I wanted to like "Two Brothers" a lot. At the outset, the idea is intriguing, following two tiger cubs circa 1920's and their adventures in French owned Indochina. Everything looks like it's boiling to a big adventure. And yet the story doesn't gel that much, the human elements don't always work, and the visual strengths are a bit hard to look at sometimes.As the film opens, we see two tigers born in Cambodia named Kumal and Sangha (in case you forget this, their names are listed in the credits) as cubs, and the next few scenes let us linger with them as they play and cavort in their wild surroundings. When the film moves to its "human" story, we meet an ivory hunter named Aidan McRory (Guy Pearce) around the time the cubs' parents are killed and seperated. Kumal is sent off to the circus and trained to be a fighter, and Sangha is sent off to live with a royal family.
There are some amusing segments where Kumal and Sangha are at play in villages, but it's mostly cutesy tiger fun. A subplot involving a small boy There's also a good scene where both tigers are brought back together while being pitted against each other in a public fight; the way that director Jean-Jacques Annaud puts this scene together, you get the impression that the tigers are actually acting despite the fact that they're just well trained. They're so good that some of the human actors nearly pale in comparison.
Annaud, who helmed "The Bear" (1989) and "Seven Years In Tibet" (1997) has a knack for interesting stories in beautiful landscapes. "Two Brothers", however, has regrettably been shot in High Definition video (with the occasional 35mm sequence), and the film has a pasty, grainy video look to it, and comes off as more distracting than visually sound. (Most likely that because the HD has been blown up for Cinemascope 35mm prints, everything is magnified.) I understand the use of digital photography to get closer to the animals, and I'll admit that they act beautifully infront of cameras, but the film is nearly an eyesore.At the end of it all, younger kids may like "Two Brothers" for the tigers and wildlife, but it's just a bit too drab and uninvolving for everyone else.