Mid-movie aspect ratio changes are one of the few things that are better in the theaters. You may have seen a movie where, at some point, the curtains along the sides draw back to suddenly create a wider screen. Galaxy Quest is the most memorable for me. It starts at 4:3 like the old Star Trek episodes on your home tv. When the scenes shift to live action, it changes to 16:9, or normal widescreen. Then, when the docking bay doors slide open to view the larger universe, the sides (curtains) keep going until you get 2.39:1, or true Cinescope. In a theater, the effect is truly special.
Replicating that experience on your home TV essentially involves shrinking the black bars around the video. It’s not perfect, but I still find the effect to be a powerful storytelling gimmick.
Brother Bear (our Friday Family Movie Night pick) not only changes aspect ratio, but also swaps color palettes. Our hero is a young Inuit hunting a bear, when suddenly the spirits turn him into one. At that point, the screen is wider and the colors are brighter, pointing to a deeper lessons around man being the monster. Basically, it’s Disney doing Nietzsche.
The story is good, but the real reason to watch Brother Bear is for the two moose, played by Bob & Doug McKenzie. Not Dave Thomas & Rick Moranis. The moose are Bob & Doug. The end could have been these guys waking up with a massive hangover talking about their crazy dream as a moose and it would have been a perfect sequel to Strange Brew.