The Bear is a big, polished children's film, nothing more. [27 Oct 1989, p.G5]
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Although this dialogue-free, mostly animal-action movie has its moments, Gerard (The Name of the Rose) Brach's man-meets-bear scenario is barely a soft, high-budgeted muzzle ahead of the Disney wilderness pictures. [27 Oct 1989, p.N43]
Although The Bear is as handsome as Quest for Fire - the story of an Ice Age tribe moving up the evolutionary ladder - it is also as turgid. [27 Oct 1989, p.12]
No less amazing than the material Mr. Annaud has captured on the screen is the fact that he has gone to such crazily elaborate lengths to capture it at all.
Warm, intelligent, humane, The Bear is everything you could hope for in an outdoor adventure. [27 Oct 1989, p.33p]
What ultimately prevents it from being something more is the fact that Annaud isn't a better director. Even the film's virtuosity as a technical feat is frequently undercut by the fact that one is too much aware of it as a stunt to accept it as a story on its own terms.
There has been a glut of animal movies in the last few years. But, of them all, The Bear -- sympathetically imagined, meticulously organized and grandly executed -- is easily the period's epic. [25 Oct 1989, p.F1]
It's certainly harrowing to sit through. Talk about your grizzly misadventures.
This is not a cute fantasy in which bears ride tricycles and play house. It is about life in the wild, and it does an impressive job of seeming to show wild bears in their natural habitat.
while the conception of bear behavior is false and sentimental, the bears' performances are perfect, through a combination of training, staging and editing. [27 Oct 1989, p.F15]