'Two Brothers': Tigers Burning Not So Bright
By Desson Thomson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 24, 2004; Page WE36
In French director Jean-Jacques Annaud's story, two real tigers (actually, played by more than two, since they are played as cubs and adults) are separated when young and taken into captivity, only to face each other years later as adult tigers who are goaded into fighting each other. Of course, they "recognize" each other.
The movie is reminiscent of the director's 1988 "The Bear," in which a couple of real bears figure as the main characters. To accentuate the positive: Those tigers are adorable and fuzzy little critters, which should please animal lovers and children. The film's sentiments -- the immorality of stealing or hunting rare species, such as the tiger -- are obviously spot-on. And on occasion, Annaud creates cute comedy out of interaction between the animals.
But the story, which features an apparently lobotomized Guy Pearce as an opportunistic explorer and hunter who learns the errors of his ways, is deeply dull. There's no pleasure in bashing one of the few movies around geared to a family audience. But I would have gladly volunteered to lead all the tigers participating in this movie directly into the wilds, just to stop them "acting" in this slow-moving, heavy-handed drama. The trouble is, they would be too tame to live in the wilds. And that's one of the movie's points. For fans of wild beauty only.
TWO BROTHERS (PG, 120 minutes) --Contains implied, off-screen violence. Area theaters.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company