YES, I'm back at it again with the direct-to-video Disney sequels. I can never stay away very long. I had an extended hiatus from this project because I couldn't log on to DisneyLife, turns out the page wouldn't load because I had an ad-blocker on. WELL PLAYED DISNEY. Now for my glorious return to Disney form I wanted to ease myself back in with something with high production and short running time. Brother Bear 2 fits the bill, clocking in at just over an hour but retaining the original pine smell. No seriously, I feel like I can smell the pine trees.
Brother Bear 2 starts out with essentially a lads on tour montage. This is a very technical term I made up where two guys pal around without the nonsense or drama of a female body interrupting them. In fact this whole film is about how women disrupt the stats quo, the idyllic life you have created with your bro, and turn it all on its head, turning brother against brother and family against each other (and into near death situations). For some reason Koda has never tried to kill or main Kenai despite the fact that Kenai MURDERED HIS MOTHER in the first film, he's chill with it, what is in the past stays there I guess. Who needs a mum anyway when you have an older brother who is going to take you to eat delicious berries?
Of course things can not stay this much of a sausage fest forever, and sure to his puberty ridden teenage-boy-inside-a-bear body, Kenai is dreaming of his long lost love, who he hasn't seen since he rescued her from a river when they were kids. Now, if there is one thing Disney loves it is ancient traditions, they love it in Lion King, they love it in Moana and they have had a field day with the Elder Spirits in the Brother Bear franchise. Nita, the discussed girl, as to be wed for the good of her village, and to be honest she's not that bothered about it, her suitor is quite fit and her dad is nice. There's one problem though, she is bound by destiny to end up with Kenai, THE BEAR BOY. Mortifying right? You're just trying to live your life and this boy you barely remember who is now by the way, A BEAR, is your soulmate? Not cool. So Nita goes off to sort the mess out, destroy some sort of talisman and go back to her village and marry her fiance.
YOU THOUGHT IT WOULD BE THAT EASY? Cue a paint by numbers odd couple rom-com as Nita and Kenai realise they DO love each other, even though Nita hasn't seen Kenai since he was a kid and now he is a bear, she is way more understanding and unshallow than I would be in this situation. Of course Koda feels threatened that his mum-murdering mate has now got a girlfriend, and everything goes to shit and I'm sure you can understand how this playing out because we have seen it a million times before. If you don't think about it too much, Brother Bear is a very inoffensive way to spend one hour fifteen. It looks very very nice, the songs are not terrible and there is some MILD PERIL to keep you interested. At once point I thought someone might die, because this IS Disney after all.
There's also a side plot involving some moose trying to chat up some other moose which has the weird claim to fame of being Rick Moranis' last film role to date. I actually really like these moose and it's definitely because of the accent.
So what's good about Brother Bear 2? The setting, mainly. Maybe they had a lot of spare material left over from the original Brother Bear but I've not seen a Disney sequel that looks THIS good. There are sun rays filtering through clouds and cold, icy rivers. The landscape changes from snow to honey coloured first signs of Spring. It's genuinely a pleasure to look at and if there is one place I would like to go it's the American wilderness to experience this for myself (and hopefully not get eating by a bear). The bear animation is great, I like how all the bears have different colours limbs for some reason. The voice acting is convincing and the score is cinematic enough. Would I watch this again? No probably not, but then I am old and I can never get past in the first Brother Bear where Kenai kills Koda's mum. If I was a kid I probably wouldn't even realise this was a sequel and was just a continuation of the original, that's how well it matches to the first in style and substance.
Overall I've not been impressed with the Brother Bear films to be honest. I only watched the first one recently so I've never been the intended target audience. The littlies will enjoy it.