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Overall Rating

Awesome: 20.42%
Worth A Look33.1%
Average: 18.31%
Pretty Bad: 14.08%
Total Crap: 14.08%

8 reviews, 94 user ratings

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Prince of Egypt, The
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Bland, too much a Disney copy."
3 stars

'Prince of Egypt' may just be worth sitting through to catch the Red Sea sequence -- but not necessarily because of the parting of the sea itself, though that's nicely done. No, what impressed me was the range of emotions flashing across Moses' face.

With the Pharoah's army approaching, and the Hebrew people looking to him for guidance, Moses turns to the sea, looks to the heavens, and in his eyes we see a flicker of doubt, then a leap of faith, then a becalmed oneness with his God. It's a great, understated moment, far more subtle than anything Charlton Heston came up with at this crucial stage in Moses' career.

The moment stands out all the more because the rest of Prince of Egypt is frantic and loud, as if it were afraid to lose you -- or as if disproving our suspicions that this Biblical film, the first major cartoon feature by DreamWorks, would be reverent and dead. The movie isn't irreverent, but it's too alive: too much jostling and running around, not enough genuine awe. The movie's rhythm is set early on, when the infant Moses' floating basket encounters a series of lethal obstacles -- it's like Baby Indiana Jones and the River of Doom. The teen Moses is introduced to us in the middle of a rip-snorting chariot race with his brother Rameses; the horses gallop over rickety bridges and fall over towering sand dunes. Boy, these Egyptian heirs to the throne -- they work hard and they play hard.

The story of Moses is the primal story of self-discovery: When faced with the cruelty of the Egyptians towards the Hebrew slaves, Moses feels compassion that he can't possibly understand. We know why, of course, and part of the appeal of this story is watching Moses peel off his luxurious false self and find the harder road to his true destiny. What's most disappointing about Prince of Egypt, which clocks in at a mere 99 minutes, is that the journey is telescoped; it seems too fast and unearned, and nothing has any gravity. Some stories need an epic length, so that changes in character come gradually. Cecil B. DeMille's 1956 The Ten Commandments weighs in at three hours and forty minutes, and we get much more of a sense of what Moses is giving up (in Prince of Egypt, for instance, there's no tempting Nefretiri).

In this telling, Moses and Rameses are two fun-loving young guys, friendly competitors, until Moses becomes the leader of the Hebrews and brings plagues down on Egypt. Where's the fraternal resentment we remember so well between Moses and Rameses in Ten Commandments? Rameses is the first-born (and also the Pharoah's only true son), yet the Pharoah loves Moses more no matter how hard Rameses tries -- that should be the angle, but Prince of Egypt muffles it. There are no villains here -- we're told that the Egyptian leaders are acting out of the only tradition they know -- and this is a hell of a time for DreamWorks to try ambiguity. Are the filmmakers trying to avoid awkward moments between adopted kids taken to the movie by their adopted parents?

Technically, the movie is proficient. I'd put it up against Disney's recent stuff. But here, DreamWorks is trying too hard to beat Disney at its own game: The tone is textbook Disney, from the comic-relief characters (Steve Martin and Martin Short) to the pastoral images giving way to big musical numbers (which are generally duds). Of the celebrity voices, only Sandra Bullock and Jeff Goldblum (as Moses' true siblings) really stand out -- mainly because they don't sound like they belong in this setting. The credits tell us that Moses is voiced by Val Kilmer, but it could be anyone. And Moses is drawn as a Disney hero, too -- strapping body, eager face-splitting grin, basically Aladdin with a beard.

God knows DeMille's epic wasn't art, but it was a glorious wedge of Biblical cheese. Given a choice between DeMille's form of show-biz pomp and Disney's (copied here by DreamWorks), I prefer DeMille's. 'Prince of Egypt' is hyperactive and visually busy without being much fun -- at least not as much fun as hearing Yul Brynner intone "Zo let it be written, zo let it be done," or watching Anne Baxter bat her eyes at the mud-stiffened Charlton Heston.

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originally posted: 01/27/07 12:36:40
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User Comments

10/10/15 WALTER Jeffrey Katzenberg was responsible for such films as THE LITTLE MERMAID. 5 stars
10/08/15 A Historian The pyramids weren't built with slave labor. 2 stars
11/21/10 mathias the fact they sing about dead kids is kind of fucked 2 stars
4/08/09 namra humayun its a very good film 4 stars
2/18/09 Sally Sundeen I am a sucker for animated films...but I love this movie. I think that it is wonderful! 4 stars
9/28/08 Little Buddy Released after Mulan and Anastasia. 5 stars
1/28/08 Pamela White almost biblically acurate and kids learn history 4 stars
6/24/07 Austin Wertman Powerful 5 stars
2/16/07 Vip Ebriega One of the best musicals I've watched. 5 stars
11/26/06 pffgg bla 1 stars
4/03/06 JRE incredible graphics. and followed the bible pretty well too 4 stars
2/04/06 Quigley the movie has a real sense of wonder and power to it unachieved by traditional animation 5 stars
1/03/06 Wiseman wohh guys common this movie was great. 5 stars
8/30/05 ES 'There must be more than this provincial life...' whoops, wrong movie 3 stars
5/11/05 Katie Malone It really says something when an atheist is moved by this deeply religious film. 5 stars
1/14/05 KingNeutron Worth seeing more than once. 5 stars
12/23/04 Daveman Gorgeously animated but too sentimental for my tastes 3 stars
10/18/04 Amber Laplante I love this movie. I think it is a great leason. 5 stars
5/17/04 DM I really like the songs, but something isn't right 4 stars
5/15/04 Sean Scanlan Umm.... 3 stars
11/07/03 Kyle I hate religion, but I've read Exodus, this is a terrible adaptation. 2 stars
10/04/03 louis thornton jr i love it show all the things that he done 5 stars
10/01/03 Esotla Lativa the facts were totaly wrong - 1 stars
10/14/02 Charles Tatum Disney needs to worry 5 stars
10/24/01 Andrew Carden I Couldn't Really Find This Entertaining At All. Lacks Good Scripts. 3 stars
9/10/01 I love movies great film but Jeff Goldblum's voice was wasted 5 stars
4/09/01 Gary Great flick! The animation is much better than Disney and the storyline is powerful! 5 stars
2/25/01 Stephanie P The wonderful vocals, amazing animation and timeless tale make this movie one of the best. 5 stars
2/06/01 Turtle It's a fine adaption of the classic life of Moses, but it isn't great. 3 stars
11/29/00 Cristopher Revilla what waste of time, watch the ten commandments instead of this stupid turkey 1 stars
10/22/00 Jed &uck the jimmy jam. This is a good movie. *uck all you anti-animation people. 4 stars
2/06/00 Kyle Broflovski I loved it. And yes, I really am a Jew. 4 stars
11/13/99 Joanna Spurbeck This movie was the best reinactment of this particular story from the bible. 5 stars
11/11/99 Ralf Behet Not without flaws, but still impressive. On par with many Disney films. 5 stars
9/21/99 JED A great but a tad bit odd animated film based on the story of moses (Great cast especially) 4 stars
4/20/99 bb hooey! 1 stars
4/19/99 jimmy jam It was not very good. But then again it's a fuckin' cartoon. 2 stars
3/25/99 Michael Prince A great piece. For once, GOD was shown as more than just background. 5 stars
3/21/99 Monky The music, animation, voice casting, just incredible. I'm 26/M, seen it twice already! 5 stars
3/21/99 Zandman Technically, a PERFECT film - so what if its sentimental crap + shitty songs? 5 stars
3/12/99 Ah Dooey Anyone smarter than Tellurium (below) knows this movie is a masterpiece! 4 stars
3/08/99 tellurium The fucked up the story, they left out to much important stuff 1 stars
2/19/99 The Graduate Very moving story, and rich characters. Plus, it looks stunning! 5 stars
2/05/99 Bob, Lord of Evil I think this was hands down the best movie of 1998! 5 stars
2/04/99 Michelle Me Belle didnt even really follow the bible's story, but some of the effects were cool 3 stars
1/25/99 Meepos. If not for the songs, would have got five stars. 4 stars
1/24/99 Slugmuffin I have seen this movie 3 times now, and it keeps getting better and better. 5 stars
1/23/99 Goofaloo As a spectacle it was awesome. As a story, well we all know how it goes. 4 stars
1/23/99 Dread Pirate Roberts Half the songs were worthwhile, the animation was awesome, and the "acting" was great. 5 stars
1/22/99 TB animation was cool..... but being boring as shit for the first 30 minutes is unforgivable. 2 stars
1/20/99 Jason Stein Animation was awesome, but Steve Martin and Martin Short's charcters seemed too "Disney" 4 stars
1/20/99 Chronically hip I enjoyed it. The characters looked weird, but overall it worked. 4 stars
1/19/99 Odd Pieman( How could God allow Val Kilmer to do his voice? Blasphemy! 2 stars
1/19/99 Binky Solid effort, but like Mulan it went from visually superb to patchy. 4 stars
1/17/99 austin pretty good, though could have waited for video 4 stars
1/12/99 Miss Scarlett Yer playin' with the big boys now! 4 stars
1/12/99 Doobie Boy A bad premise (remaking a classic) but executed well enough. Worth a matinee ticket. 4 stars
1/08/99 MRHOLLYWOOD !! its funny how a movie with a REAL plot gets dissed,AWESOME,MOVING & OSCAR MATERIAL!! 5 stars
1/07/99 buddy "Spork Girl" Disney?!?! Get a clue!!!!!! 2 stars
1/05/99 Willy Wonker Dude Huh, huh, huh, this s*cks. Huh, huh, huh. Change it Butthead. 1 stars
1/04/99 Noreen Can't understand how anyone could call this a masterpiece. A for effort, C- for results. 2 stars
1/04/99 Lindsay It was good, I enjoyed it, beautiful animation, good music. 4 stars
1/04/99 Jason Landru and One Hung Low, you gents really have this one nailed. 1 stars
1/04/99 Landru This film blows. I've seen better animation in commercials. 1 stars
1/03/99 Shana I like Val Kilmer better in live action. He looks much better than that scrawny cartoon guy 1 stars
1/03/99 Critic Deluxe Contrary to all of the praise, POE is an average film in most respects, including animation 2 stars
1/03/99 One Hung Low It gives the word "tacky" new meaning. The soundtrack is an insult to the subject matter. 1 stars
1/02/99 Louis XIV Dreamworks paid plenty of critics to hype this film. I found it to be mediocre at best. 2 stars
1/02/99 John Pindick of Egypt. Lame. Trite. Boring. Tedious. Stupid. Poor animation. 1 stars
1/02/99 Oscar Goldman Prince of Egypt is a trite, cartoonish remake of a classic. Soundtrack (bad) is CWTV & MTV 1 stars
12/31/98 Austin good, not great, serious theme 4 stars
12/30/98 MilhousFan Are you people on crack? This movie was amazing! 5 stars
12/30/98 Peter Fitswell Reamworks has produced a film that can make you yawn and vomit simultaneously. 1 stars
12/30/98 Sylvia Jeff Goldblum's geekiness taints any serious film. Subject was too serious for a cartoon. 1 stars
12/29/98 Hugh Jass POE (acronym is an insult to Edgar Allan) has mediocre animation and a weak script. 1 stars
12/29/98 PyThomas Brilliant animation. Best of all, no cute talking animal sidekicks. 4 stars
12/28/98 Mercury Hayes How Dreamworks got 3200 screens for this dog is a tribute to SKG's pull. 1 stars
12/27/98 Katsat Crude mix of CGI/traditional animation. Leaden, plodding, boring. Aimed high & missed badly 2 stars
12/27/98 Thing Music was the pits. Animation was like a Saturday morning cartoon. 1 stars
12/27/98 Clint Beastwood My niece and nephew hated the film. They thought it totally blew. Barf city. SKG blows! 1 stars
12/25/98 Louis Munro popo, do you work for PDI? Kind of like asking a father if is daughter is beautiful. 1 stars
12/24/98 popo Beautiful, moving. Fantastic. Thanks to Dreamworks for taking animation to new heights! 5 stars
12/21/98 jlgallardo I hated te animation of the people, they don't stand up Disney's. Nice special affects. 3 stars
12/21/98 Freyja An enjoyable enough cartoon (not quite animation in my book). Despite the music. 4 stars
12/21/98 buddy Jerky animation, just like Anastasia, boring, horrible songs, CG that doesn't mesh. Yuck. 2 stars
12/20/98 Mr Showbiz visually breathtaking, but follows it's Disney forebears too closely. 4 stars
12/20/98 Louis Munro The animation is no better than any Disney film. Trivialization of 10 Commandments. 2 stars
12/19/98 Jason Stein This is the most spectacular animation i've ever seen! DreamWorks scores BIG! 5 stars
12/19/98 Carole Whitehill Breathtaking, magical, spiritual achievement. This year's "Titanic" Go see it! 5 stars
12/05/98 Jerry Wake me up when it's over 1 stars
11/23/98 Martin Restin some nice effects, but uninvolving characters and story. would bomb if a live action film. 2 stars
11/08/98 Mr. Spock of Vulcan Nice animation. Soundtrack is Nashville meets Soultrain. Katzenberg is devoid of ideas. 3 stars
8/28/98 Mister Whoopee superb animation and effects, celebrity voices and the tale of Moses. Very Disney. 4 stars
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  18-Dec-1998 (PG)
  DVD: 14-Sep-1999


  26-Dec-1998 (PG)

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