Third-rate children’s entertainment from Denmark that should have been better.
When The Great Bear begins, you’ll think that this film is at least a decade old if not much older. This is because the computer generated graphics are quite blocky and unattractive. However, when you realize that the film just came out in 2011, you realize just how poor the film is graphically compared to the products coming from mainstream studios today. The films by Universal, Fox, Dreamworks and Pixar are so far beyond The Great Bear in quality that kids will no doubt also notice the difference. However, if the film has an excellent story, it can surely overcome the primitive graphics. Unfortunately, the graphics aren’t the only problem with this tale.
The story involves an 11 year-old named Jonathan and his 6 year-old sister, Sophie. She is like most little sisters–a bit of a pain and he’s a lot like older brothers–he just wants her to leave him alone. However, the pair end up having a big adventure when they go to stay at Grandpa’s house out in the country. There, they wander into the great forest–a scary and foreboding place. Soon, the sister disappears and when Jonathan finally locates her he realizes this is an odd place indeed! She’s discovered a nice bear and it’s her friend–and it’s also larger than a dinosaur. Jonathan thinks she’s been kidnapped and enlists the help of a completely insane hunter. However, eventually Jonathan realizes the bear is friendly and he now has to stop the hunter from trying to kill this nice creature–even if this means his life.
In some ways, this film reminds me of My Neighbor Totoro, as the bear is very much like this magical Japanese creature. But this is where the similarity ends. Otherwise, the film seems very much like a heavy-handed and joyless film that has a very small audience. The film is too scary and violent for young kids and older audiences will probably feel it’s too much of a kids’ film. Its heavy-handed message that hunters are evil will probably annoy quite a few parents and delight the PETA-lovers out there. I was more upset at how one-dimensional and poorly written the guy was–regardless of whatever statement the filmmakers were trying to make. The bottom line is that the writing is broad and not particularly good. Combine that with the ugly graphics and it’s a film you’d probably want to skip. Now I am not saying you necessarily should completely avoid the film–I just cannot see paying anything to rent or buy it. If it ever appears on a pay channel that you subscribe to and you have nothing better to do, then by all means see The Great Bear. Otherwise, you certainly could do better.
Review by Lead Entertainment Writer & Film Critic, Martin Hafer