Boonie Bears Guardian Code (English) review: M-AI tujhe salaam!

Boonie Bears Guardian Code (English) review: M-AI tujhe salaam!

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The Chinese sci-fi animated film Boonie Bears makes its way to India, hoping to strike an emotional chord with a universal theme – mother. This reviewer, though, is not too impressed but it could appeal to target audiences in urban metros.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️ (2 / 5)

By IndiaLevel Media

Mere pass maa hai”, Shashi Kapoor’s iconic dialogue from Deewar [1975] became the pulse of the nation that prides on its family values, especially maternal love.  Sadly, for Briar and Bramble, they don’t have their mother. Years ago, she abandoned her cubs, never to return.

What happened to momma bear? Is she even alive? Briar last saw her mother walk towards a hill where a tech hub was ablaze. Most animals have short lives, and many mothers look after their off springs for a limited time. Nature can be merciless, but Briar and Bramble survive through the tough phase to turn into flabby looking bears. They work in the nearby robotics centre, now fully repaired and thriving. While Briar has learnt to live in the present, the innocent Bramble still hopes to see his mother again.

The facility is attacked by Leonard (voiced by Chris Bolke), a familiar foe, whose tiny robots are out to nab Sue (voiced by Nicola Vincent).  Hot on the heels of Sue and Professor Roland is Barbara, a warrior bear. Briar and Bramble jump in to save Sue. A bear that was ordered to capture Sue, and eliminate any threat, why does she then save Bramble? When the mask is off, the brothers are curious by this white fur sow.  Bramble believes that her mother has returned, much to the annoyance of Barbara (voiced by Kally Khourshid).

The events that follow reveal a few surprising truths. However, one crucial revelation poses a question similar to that explored in a recent Bollywood sci-fi romantic drama.

Boonie Bears is said to be a popular Chinese sci-fi, animated TV series.  It makes its way to India hoping to strike an emotional chord with a universal theme – mother. It’s an ideal film that releases two days before Mother’s Day on 12 May. Such tropes were popular in Indian culture, but the maa (mother), too, has been subdued in an era where action thrillers, super hero flicks are in vogue.

The writer trio of Tiechi Cui, Zhenjie Liu, and Rachel Xu, along with directors Yongchang Lin and Heqi Shao, explore a universal theme dear to Indian audiences. However, the Chinese animated film lacks a compelling screenplay, failing to establish a meaningful emotional connection with viewers.

One of the problems is that none of the animated characters are particularly engaging, and the voice cast fails to leave a strong impression. While we can’t speak for the original voice actors, it seems that something got lost in translation.

In the English dub, Patrick Freeman’s portrayal of Briar is decent, but Joseph Lambert struggles with his poorly developed and irritating character, lacking the charm expected in such a role. The exasperating character naturally results in an exasperated tone from Lambert.

Kally Khourshid’s tone also lacks energy. Chris Bolke voices both Leonard and Dr. Roland, but his delivery is equally ineffective.

Technology certainly plays a role, but with these characters, it feels like an overdose. The major drawback, however, is how the writers and directors undermine their own maternal theme with a particular tech recreation at the end.

On the screen, a critic might spot numerous flaws, but the real spectacle unfolded around us. It was a press show, with only a handful of journalists, perhaps at 60 percent capacity, the majority being mommy bloggers with their little ones in tow. When was the last time we witnessed such a scene in an Indian cinema hall? Your reviewer was delighted to see these children having a blast. And where there are kids, there are the most innocent of questions. Only a heartless soul would find it anything but endearing.

This writer was moved when, during the interval, a young boy and girl left their seats to fetch a Boonie Bear coloring book and a bag tag for me. The most touching moment came at the end of the movie when the little girl became visibly emotional over a certain act of valour.

Indian theaters have never faced such challenges. Despite its flaws, we still need the Boonie Bears to draw audiences, mothers, and their children back to the theaters.

Boonie Bears Guardian Code is set to be released in English and Hindi in India on 10 May.

Boonie Bears Guardian Code (English) review: M-AI tujhe salaam!

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