'Brother Bear 2'
(Mandy Moore, Patrick Dempsey, et al / DVD / G / 2006 / Disney)
Overview: The bonds of true friendship and love are powerful enough to persist through even the most extreme circumstances, but can even the strongest bond endure when a young man and a young woman are split apart by the spirits? Since being turned into a bear as punishment for his insensitivity in Brother Bear, Kenai has managed to find true happiness and a compelling sense of purpose in his new relationship with his adopted brother Koda. But when Kenai's old friend Nita prepares for her wedding day with another man, the spirits send a sign indicating that a strong connection still exists between Kenai and Nita.
DVD Verdict: Following the recent tradition, Disney gives us another direct-to-video sequel to their theatrically-released film. `Brother Bear 2' features most of the major characters from the original, including human-turned-bear Kenai (voice by Patrick Dempsey replacing Joaquin Phoenix) and his best friend, cute cub Koda (Jeremy Suarez). Familiar voices from Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas as Rutt and Tuke, can also be heard as well as Michael Clark Duncan as Tug (Tug's scenes are brief, though). The film picks up the story where the original ended, showing Kenai and Koda living in the woods peacefully. Then young woman named Nita (voice by Mandy Moore), who was a good friend of Kenai when they were kids, comes to them, asking Kenai to help her destroy the amulet, of which power, she says, prevents her upcoming marriage. And moreover, a shaman says, to do so they have to travel to the waterfalls where young Nina and Kenai first talked about their love before Kenai is turned into a bear. The initial situation sounds a bit like `Lord of the Rings,' but the story itself is much short (74 minutes) and compactly told. Like Peter Jackson epic, Nina, Kenai and Koda encounter adventures on the way, with the jolly pair of moose, stealing raccoons, etc. What happens during the journey is not particularly original (though its outcome may surprise some) and the pace is sometimes slow, but the film is enjoyable all the same. As if reflecting the pace of the film, Melissa Etherridge provides her ballad songs which are slow but strong, sentimental but beautiful. No one will deny the beauty of her songs, but some would prefer more upbeat ones heard in other Disney films. What I thought most disappointing is the visuals of the film. The designs of the mountains, woods, or the characters themselves are more than adequate, but when the film comes to the scenes where complex movements of characters and objects are required, it betrays the budget which must be much lower than the original. The cat-and-mouse chase sequences involving Nina, Kenai, Koda, and the meddling raccoons could have been better with more detailed descriptions and careful treatment of the picture and the same thing can be said about the snow mountain scenes where we definitely need more actions to enjoy. It is true that `Brother Bear 2' is a better film than most of the so-called `cheapquels' from the company, and has potential to be a much better one with a portion of the budget Disney unwisely spent for the duds (of which names I don't mention here). Again I say `Brother Bear 2' is a very good film. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Behind The Music Of Brother Bear 2
Game: Trample Off, Eh?