Two Brothers Movie Review
Director Jean-Jacques Annaud (Enemy at the Gates, The Lover) returns to wild animal territory last seen in his film The Bear, choosing to focus his latest project - a children's movie - on two live, non-talking, non-CGI tigers. The result is a pleasantly sweet-natured and sometimes remarkable kids' film. Perhaps the biggest shocker is that, in these days of Babe and Pixar, Universal let this honest tale get out of the edit room without CGI-ing in even a single eyebrow-raise on these cubs' faces.
The story begins very simply and wordlessly with the conception and birth of the cubs, Kumal and Sangha. One is bold and one is timid, but both play happily together among the ruins of Angkor. Soon, this idyllic scene is shattered by adventurer Aidan McRory (Guy Pearce) who, while seeking his fortune in looting the ruins, ends up setting off the chain of events that separates the duo. After killing the cubs' father, Aidan claims Kumal as a pet, and later he traps Sangha and his mother, giving Sangha to the young son of a French official (Freddie Highmore).
As the plot follows each cub from kind human to cruel human, Annaud charts the ultimate PETA-friendly parable: These tigers turn out to be caring and understanding, while the humans are the real monsters and murderers. And even if you're fairly jaded to that party line, it's hard not to get swept up in the grace of these amazing creatures, especially when the human actor talent is never all that winning and only tends to bring the production down.
To be fair, it's not really the actors' fault. Co-writers Annaud and Alain Godard (longtime writing pair) don't give the cast much less the incredibly capable Pearce (Memento) much to say, except for tear-wringing platitudes like, "No, I'm the one who is wrong!" Annaud perhaps spends so much time trying to capture emotions in his tigers' movements and expressions that he forgets he might want to make the people engaging, too.
While the script and two-legged actors leave something to be desired, Two Brothers won't disappoint families with young children. Annaud definitely cranks the "aww" factor to 11, with adorable close-ups on mewing cubs and shots of them scampering around the jungle playing ball. And with its very natural, somewhat old-fashioned live-action style, today's unimpressionable kiddie audiences may actually fall for Two Brothers' charm. And parents will definitely approve of its simple-natured harmlessness. Plus, the film even ends with an educational message that tigers like the ones in the film are endangered. I just wonder if this flick will set off a tiger frenzy like Nemo did for clown fish.
Ol' blue eyes wants to eat your liver.