Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.

Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

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Movie review

'Bear' lacks the necessities

Published November 3, 2003

Two moose and a bear
[Buena Vista Pictures]
A pair of squabbling moose are good for a few laughs in Brother Bear.
Billy Norris
Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

Brother Bear

Rating: G

Summary: In an ancient tribe, Kenai (voice of Joaquin Phoenix) is a young man starving for approval. When his older, wiser brother is indirectly killed by a bear, Kenai lets his emotions get the best of him and goes on a ruthless hunt for the bear to exact revenge. He finally kills the beast, but because of his rash actions, the spirits turn him into a bear. After Kenai (now in bear form) gets caught in a bear trap, a young energetic and precocious cub named Koda (voice of Jeremy Suarez) stumbles upon him. Koda, who was separated from his mother on their way to the salmon run, offers to bring Kenai along with him to show him the place where the lights touch the Earth - the place Kenai believes will reunite him with his brother's spirit and allow him to be restored to human form. As Koda's loneliness and longing for his mother take hold, he begins to cling to Kenai as a brother figure and ultimately teaches Kenai the meaning of brotherhood and love.

My View: I was unimpressed and fairly disappointed with this movie. Hand-drawn animation is flat out of date. It now just seems nostalgic and pales in comparison to the groundbreaking technology in such films as Finding Nemo. Fresh ideas were in short supply here. It was a Lion King wanna-be. It lacked the magic, the music, all the elements that made Lion King a Disney classic. Phil Collins' songs weren't catchy enough to make them memorable. Suarez did a good job making Koda an endearing character, and the two Canadian moose were good for a few laughs. Otherwise, Brother Bear is not bad, and it's certainly not great. It's just wallowing in mediocrity, hoping to offer enough to attract the millions of usual Disney followers.

Recommendations: It's G-rated, so it's one of those rare films that meets the "good for the whole family" requirement, but that's about it.

Grade: C

- Billy Norris, 15, is in 10th grade at Seminole High School and is a former member of the Times X-Team.

[Last modified October 31, 2003, 12:59:36]

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