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Brother Bear, an idealistic quest

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November 03, 2003 13:55 IST

A still from Brother BearThough not as entertaining, inventive or colourful as some of the recent Disney animated films like Lilo & Stitch, Brother Bear has ample attraction for children between four and ten years, as seen at a largely attended screening at Zeigfeld in New York.

This is the story about the need to bond with Nature, animals and fellow humans. Phil Collins' songs make the proceedings more cheerful and the traditionally done visuals striking. The movie, which premiered in New York and Los Angeles in a handful of theatres on October 24, had its national release on November 1.

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The youngest of three brothers living in a remote part of the Pacific Northwest centuries ago, Kenai (in the voice of Joaquin Phoenix) is given a special totem by a shaman. Though the totem bear signifies love, Kenai is not very happy with it. His brothers tease him into believing that their totems are superior. Brother Sitka (D B Sweeney) wears an eagle, and Denahi (Jason Raize) a wolf.

Yet the brothers love Kenai: when a bear runs off with Kenai's basket of fish and he goes after it, they move fast to protect him. In the process, elder brother Sitka is killed.

Furious, Kenai now wants to avenge his brother's sacrifice and ignores Denahi's advice to let things go. Kenai is also urged by the tribe's wise woman Tanana (Joan Copeland) to look at Sitka's death as the will of the universe.

A still from Brother BearWhen Kenai emerges triumphant after a battle with the bear, he is suddenly tranformed by the Great Spirits into a bear, so that he can learn a few lessons about revenge, and about life.

Among the film's dramatic moments, which many children seem to love, is the situation when Denahi sees the tattered clothes of his brother and a bear next to them. He assumes the bear has eaten up the kid brother. He forgets his peaceful nature and goes after the bear, not knowing that it is indeed his own brother.

Another highlight occurs when the film's format suddenly widens the moment Kenai is transformed into a grizzly bear, showing the wonders of the Pacific Northwest.

As Denahi forms a hunting party to kill all bears to avenge Kenai's death, the latter begins to see the world through a bear's eyes and starts learning lessons about bonds between living creatures and the importance of forgiveness and humility.

A still from Brother BearInitially, Kenai is unhappy with his new avatar, but his anger and terror are mitigated to some extent when he receives bear lessons from the cub Koda (Jeremy Suarez).

Kenai also discovers from the spirit of the shaman Tanana, that he must seek Sitka, who was transformed into an eagle soon after his death.

Reluctantly, Kenai decides  to take the cub with him through an adventurous trek through forests, caverns and a volcanic field, all the while trying to elude Denahi.

Two Canadian moose named Rutt and Tuke (in the voices of Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas) provide amusement.

The interesting outcome of the movie's quest has Kenai making a choice that has a lot to do with idealism. Apart from the lively score and scenery, the movie also benefits from the lively voices of Moranis, Thomas and Jeremey Suarez.

Cast: (voices) Joaquin Phoenix, D B Sweeney, Jason Raize, Jeremy Suarez, Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas
Directors: Aaron Blaise, Robert Walker
Writers: Steve Bencich, Ron J Friedman, Tab Murphy, Lorne Cameron and David Hoselton
Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes
Rating: G for general audiences
Distributed by Buena Vista

Arthur J Pais