Boonie Bears: Guardian Code review – adorable bears in smash-hit Chinese eco tale

The ninth feature in a hugely popular Chinese animated series directed by Lin Yongchang and Shao Heqi, Boonie Bears: Guardian Code is also the franchise’s highest-grossing film, second behind The Wandering Earth 2 as the biggest Chinese film of 2023 so far. With its two main characters Bramble and Briar, adorable bears who were abandoned by their mother in a forest fire, this environmentally conscious adventure is an entertaining, if rather formulaic, ride.

For lovers of cute animals, the CGI designs of the brothers are quite lovely and detailed, though not exactly distinctive. Goofy and optimistic Bramble believes that their mother is out there searching for them, but Briar holds no such hope. However, a chance encounter with Charlotte, an aspiring scientist, promises a new clue that would lead the pair to their long-lost mummy. What follows is an extravaganza of good versus evil, bears versus bots.

There’s a curious paradox here: while Boonie Bears: Guardian Code’s plot points are absolutely generic, their execution remains rather well done. Fashioned with metallic tentacles for arms, the menacing and gigantic robot used by the villain looks suspiciously similar to the killing droid that terrorises Pixar’s The Incredibles, while a number of twists seem borrowed from older classics. Still, the animation is lively enough that these face-off sequences can still deliver a dose of thrills.

In the English-language dub, some of the voice talents are occasionally wooden, but the film compensates for this lack with a nice central song. Boonie Bears: Guardian Code is not going to blow the minds of the adults – or the more discerning little ones – but this can make for a fun, though possibly not very memorable, cinema outing.

Boonie Bears: Guardian Code is released on 26 May in UK and Irish cinemas.


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