Is it good? Yep. Is it a triumph in animation? Well...The Prince Of Egypt is a retelling of the story of Moses and his people. It's the story of the Exodus. The story's been told on screen before, in Cecil B. DeMille's "The Ten Commandments."
But it's never been told as an animated musical.
I won't focus on the story. As I type this, it's early Christmas morning. You should probably know what the story's about anyway. I have only basic knowledge of the Bible, and I knew what was going on. The story itself works. It's a moving narrative that clips along at a fast pace. The voice work is excellent, specifically from Val Kilmer and Ralph Fiennes (as Moses and Ramses, respectively). Both redeem themselves in my eyes from previous subpar work (The Saint for Kilmer, and the obvious Avengers debacle for Fiennes). There's nice turns from Sandra Bullock (Miriam) and Michelle Pfeiffer (Tzipporah), too. But the real focus here is the animation.
It is impressive. It is, at times, even stunning (the Red Sea "parting" sequence is the prime example). There are some scenes where the hand-drawn stuff does blend seamlessly with the computer generated animation. There are some scenes where it doesn't. Does it compare to other animated features? Yep. Tzipporah bears a bit of resemblance to Esmerelda from Hunchback Of Notre Dame. But most of the characters are uniquely animated. The character of Aaron actually actually looks like Jeff Goldblum, who provided the voice, with a beard. Miriam is a bit more plump than the average animated female. Moses is angular.
Is it groundbreaking? In some ways, yes. Sticklers may be able to point out where things don't blend, and average moviegoers may not even notice, or care. But it's groundbreaking in that it has taken an extremely serious subject and applied it to an art form that was previously used exclusively for children's films. That's not to say The Prince Of Egypt ISN'T for kids: it is. It's definitely a family movie. But it's not family in that Disney sort of way.
There are no human-like animal sidekicks. There are elements of humor, but not the sort of slapsticky way most kids movies are. The closest thing to comic relief comes from Steve Martin and Martin Short as temple magicians, who are more sinister than comedic. The entire film has a very serious tone to it (and it should), but it may make some younger children - and perhaps a few older ones - a little restless. A scene where a vengeful God kills the firstborn son of every Egyptian, including the now-Pharaoh Ramses, even unsettled me a little.
The songs? Mostly forgettable. They don't stand out (although the opening song is still on my mind), and they don't really distract, either.
I guess this reads more like a non-review review.
I enjoyed the film, more than I thought I would. Is it a triumph, a breakthrough?
I can't say.But I do think it's a step in the right direction.