Brother Bear (2003)

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Released 28-Jun-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
THX Optimizer
THX Trailer
Outtakes
Audio Commentary-Rutt And Tuke
Music Video-Look Through My Eyes
Game-Bone Puzzle, Find Your Totem
Featurette-Bear Legends: Native American Tales
Featurette-Making Noise: The Art Of Foley
Featurette-Art Review
Deleted Scenes-3, With Introduction
Bonus Track-Fishing Song
Bonus Track-Transformation Song
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 81:36
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (23:32) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Aaron Blaise
Robert Walker
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Joaquin Phoenix
Jeremy Suarez
Jason Raize
Rick Moranis
Dave Thomas
D.B. Sweeney
Joan Copeland
Michael Clarke Duncan
Harold Gould
Paul Christie
Daniel Mastrogiorgio
Estelle Harris
Greg Proops
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $36.95 Music Phil Collins
Mark Mancina
Matthew Jon Beck


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.70:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Varies Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
English
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Brother Bear is Disney's latest animated feature to be released on DVD. Brother Bear is the enjoyable and touching family-orientated story of a young man who "learns to become a man, by becoming a bear".

    Brother Bear tells the story of three Inuit brothers who live in a far-North American wilderness. Kenai (Joaquin Phoenix) has two older brothers, Denahi (Jason Raize) and Sitka (DB Sweeney). Kenai is pretty irresponsible and immature. Indeed, he's a pretty lousy brother. After angering the spirit gods, Kenai is taught a lesson by being transformed into a bear (the animal he hates). To be changed back to human form, Kenai embarks on a journey to a mountain where "the lights touch the earth", which in itself becomes a journey of self discovery and redemption. To undertake the trip, Kenai is thrust into partnership with a little bear, Koda (Jeremy Suarez), who has lost his mother. As the 'road trip' ensues, the two bears meet a number of characters, including two comical moose brothers, Rutt (Rick Moranis) and Tuke (Dave Thomas). Forced to care for each other, Koda and Kenai learn what it is to be brothers, and when Kenai's journey is complete, he is faced with the surprisingly difficult decision of returning to his friends and family, or remaining a bear.

    Set in prehistoric times, the story is enriched with native American mythology and a strong sense of a time when mankind had a much stronger bond with nature. It is also interesting to note how far Disney has come in its depiction of Native American people and their culture: Brother Bear stands in stark contrast to the crude Hollywood stereotypes of "Red Indians" presented in Peter Pan. Rather bravely, Brother Bear does not shy away from presenting an alternative culture, religion, and language with respect, and without being patronising. For example, the film opens in an Inuit language, before switching over to English.

    Brother Bear also boasts some of the most breathtaking scenery that I have seen in an animated film. Brother Bear will be one of Disney's last films to be produced with traditional 2 dimensional hand-drawn animation, as Disney has recently opted for all future projects to be computer-based. The art direction and art work is magnificent, and the grand vistas presented really do need a projector to be fully appreciated. Indeed, when I first watched this DVD on my large widescreen television, in a number of the scenes the characters are the size of ants. Once projected as a large image, however, the sweeping scenery and the detailed animation of the characters themselves lift this film up another notch.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is excellent, and faultless. The only issue concerns the aspect ratio . . .

    According to the packaging, Brother Bear is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1, 16x9 enhanced. However, the transfer is actually presented in an aspect ratio of 1.70:1, 16x9 enhanced. Brother Bear has a strange peculiarity: Theatrically the first 20 minutes of the film were presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 (within a 2.35:1 frame), but when Kenai is transformed into a bear, for effect the aspect ratio 'expands' to 2.35.1. R1 DVD consumers get the option of watching either a 1.66:1 or a 2.35:1 version of the film, but we do not.

    The sharpness is excellent, although some of the backgrounds are intentionally very soft. The colour is magnificent, and much of the scenery and backgrounds have a Monet-like appearance, as if they were painted with light. This is one of the very best presentations of colour I have ever seen on a DVD that I have reviewed.

    A pristine print has been used, and the disc has been expertly authored. As such, there are no problems with MPEG artefacts, film-to-video artefacts or film artefacts.

    Only English subtitles are present, and they are accurate. This is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed rather early at 23:32, which is in between scenes and not noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are two audio options for the feature: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) and English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s). While dts tracks are often superior in quality, I could not hear any real difference in quality between these two options with this movie.

    The dialogue quality and audio sync for the animation are excellent.

    The musical score is credited to Phil Collins and Mark Mancina, and it is a suitably dramatic score. There are, of course, a number of featured songs provided by Collins, including the very catchy "On My Way", and "Great Spirits" performed by Tina Turner. Personally I think Collins provided some of the best Disney songs ever with his tunes for Tarzan, but here, with the exception of "On My Way", the songs are pretty forgettable, and don't add that much to the film.

    There is strong surround presence and activity throughout, such as at 68:33 where a wind-storm and the score are both happily piped through the rears. There is also a very good LFE track, and examples of this are plentiful, such as the thunder at 19:26 or the mammoth steps at 39:55.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are plenty of genuine extras.

Menu

    Animated menus with Dolby Stereo Surround audio.

THX Optimizer

    Video and audio tests and signals to help calibrate home theatre equipment.

Koda's Outtakes (2:47)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, non-16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Stereo, these are a series of short comic outtakes.

Audio Commentary-Rutt And Tuke

    A great idea, but the joke wears thin pretty soon. In character, the moose Rutt and Tuke (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas) provide an amusing screen-specific commentary throughout the film, in which they discuss everything from global warming to Phil Collins' hair-line.

Music Video-Look Through My Eyes

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, non-16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

Games

    Two games utilizing the remote control - Bone Puzzle and Find Your Totem - which I found too tedious to complete.

Featurette-Bear Legends: Native American Tales

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, non-16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo audio. This featurette is composed of stories told by animating the traditional cave paintings on a wall.

Featurette-Making Noise: The Art Of Foley

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital stereo audio. The young actor who voices Koda, Jeremy Suarez, visits Foley artists at work, and provides a behind-the-scenes look at their craft.

Featurette-Art Review

    Art Director Robh Ruppel, and Animator Byron Howard discuss the inspiration for the animation, presenting a number of stills, photographs, and sketches that helped the team develop the characters and scenery for the film.

Deleted Scenes (11:03)

    Three deleted scenes entitled "Where's Koda", "Confusion", and "Muri the Squirrel" are presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, non 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo audio. Each scene is introduced with an explanation as to the reason for its removal.

Bonus Track-Fishing Song

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital stereo audio, this was a Phil Collins song replaced in the final version of the film by another Collins tune, "Welcome".

Bonus Track-Transformation Song

    Here we see the Bulgarian Women's Choir, in tradition dress, recording this song for the film. English subtitles are provided.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Brother Bear was released on DVD in Region 1 in March, 2004.

    The Region 4 DVD misses out on:

The Region 1 DVD misses out on:

    I would favour the R1 for the additional extras, and the option of seeing the film in its original aspect ratio/s.

Summary

   Brother Bear is a touching and positive family movie. For anyone with small kids (especially any that are brothers), I thoroughly recommend it.

    The video quality is exceptional.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    There are plenty of genuine extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Sunday, July 04, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

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