Two Brothers

"Good"

Two Brothers Review


"Two Brothers" is a rare animal indeed: A critter movie not just for kids, with well-drawn, well-acted human roles that are more than just sidekicks for the stars of the show -- two extraordinarily expressive Asian tigers named Kumal and Sangha.

Generally a Serious Actor drawn to atypical grown-up dramas like "Memento" and "A Slipping Down Life," Guy Pearce is especially good as Aidan McRory, a famous, roguish adventurer, hunter and unscrupulous treasure profiteer in 1920s French Indochina, who becomes an occasional fixture in the tigers' lives. But Pearce also clearly understands he's in a supporting role and lets no movie-star pride get in the way of the story.

The first half of the film is about the cubhood of timid, curious Kumal and bold, protective Sangha, and how each comes to be captured as humans encroach on their territory and each of their parents is shot. Coincidentally, both tigers are rescued separately by McRory, but his own misfortune (he's arrested for looting archeological sites) leads to Kumal being sold to a gypsy circus, where his spirit is broken, and Sangha being turned into a trained killer by the emperor's private zookeeper.

A year later they chance to meet in the emperor's fighting ring and manage an amusing escape -- only to be hunted by the man who saved their young lives. "They never learned to hunt and they're not afraid of people," McRory explains to the tearful young son of a French administrator who once kept Sangha as a pet. "They'll go for the easiest pray -- women in the fields, children..."

Co-writer and director Jean-Jacques Annaud ("Enemy at the Gates," "Seven Years in Tibet") gives "Two Brothers" an empathetic and nurturing sense of both animal instinct and human ego as his story unfolds in unexpected ways and with uncommon depth. Even with its sparse dialogue (tigers don't talk, after all), the film touches on issues of imperialism, nobility, cultural and environmental preservation, tomb-robbing, poaching and animal cruelty -- all without seeming the least bit preachy. In fact such moments are some of the cleverest and snappiest in the picture.

And there are no villains here. Even the sometimes-cruel circus owners, the wily colonial administrator (Jean-Claude Dreyfus) and the pampered emperor (Oanh Nguyen) are compassionate characters with many dimensions.

But more importantly, the same can be said of the tigers. I have no idea what it takes to get a bona fide performance out of an animal, but Annaud and his trainers do so beautifully. Kumal and Sangha don't exhibit taught mannerisms, they have personalities, moods and emotions. There seems to be a genuine understanding of their characters in the eyes of these handsome creatures. But that's not really possible...is it?

Annaud does make one stylistic mistake -- the mixing of film stock and digital video -- which haunts the whole picture. Not only is the digital camerawork distractingly conspicuous -- especially in a period film -- but it also looks cheap. The director probably cut a few million bucks off his budget, but the result is that he has a hard time doing justice to the beautiful jungle landscapes or the picturesque, overgrown ancient ruins therein that Kumal and Sangha call home.

But this artistic faux pas isn't enough to diminish the standing of "Two Brothers" as a fine example of one of cinema's most endangered species -- an animal movie, with a great script, that is engaging and entertaining for just about any age. (The film is rated PG for mild violence and may be intense at times for smaller children.)



Two Brothers

Facts and Figures

Run time: 109 mins

In Theaters: Friday 25th June 2004

Box Office USA: $18.9M

Budget: 545

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Production compaines: TLA Releasing

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Fresh: 89 Rotten: 25

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: Norbert Orlewicz as Riley Adamson, Cody Campbell as Chad Adamson, Karen Rae as Tobie, as Gavin

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.