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1 item from 1998

Film review: 'The Prince of Egypt'

11 December 1998 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

DreamWorks' "The Prince of Egypt" is a glorious, old-style movie done with state-of-the-art animation, glowing and gorgeously composed.

Based on the book of Exodus and featuring the struggle of two brothers who embody good and evil, it packs a towering contemporary message and is realized in a stunning visual fashion. It's sophisticated, both intellectually and morally, and hopefully will play to the animation crowd.

Overall, "Prince" is a most laudable stylistic effort and, optimistically, viewers will give it their most considered effort and propel it with word-of-mouth enthusiasm.

What is most compelling about "Prince" is its magical animated art. It combines the grandeur of mountainscapes, recollective of John Ford movies, with the glories of a timeless tale -- namely, the animosity between brothers, one good (Val Kilmer) and one evil (Ralph Fiennes). It is, of course, the saga of Moses' personal quest to save his people from the repressive dictatorship of his brother Rameses, whom he urges to "let my people go." It is a magic mix of animation with religious philosophy. In that way, it is truly daring.

The visceral staging of this production is splendid, from the thrilling film score of Hans Zimmer to the super visual work of the crew of animators. "Prince" is a truly muscular movie, rippling with ideas and energy. The colors are stimulating but in a subdued sort of way. There's a wonderfully mixed fusion of browns and golds that truly lights up the eye. Compliments all around to the gifted animators, and special praise to production designer Darek Gogol for his keen combination of insight and research.

On the downside, the story line is often redundant. Co-story supervisors Kelly Asbury and Lorna Cook bring home obvious messages and themes with overly empathetic diatribes. Moses' sweet, unassuming nature is continually a counterpoint to his brother's meanness, and it rings flat after a bit.

Still, "The Prince of Egypt"'s energy overrides its sometimes laborious narrative. It's a treat to watch. Highest praise to co-directors Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner and Simon Wells for their superb collaboration. They've created a truly memorable movie.

The voice characterizations are terrific, particularly Kilmer as the indignant and noble Moses. He captures a man of deep moral dimension. Praise also to Fiennes for his layered interpretation of the amoral Rameses. Michelle Pfeiffer is most alluring as the female lead, and Steve Martin is, not surprisingly, charismatic as a court magician.


DreamWorks Pictures

Producers: Penny Finkelman Cox, Sandra Rabins

Directors: Brenda Chapman, Steven Hickner, Simon Wells

Story supervisors: Kelly Asbury, Lorna Cook

Executive producer: Jeffrey Katzenberg

Associate producer: Ron Rocha

Original songs: Stephen Schwartz

Music: Hans Zimmer

Art directors: Kathy Altieri, Richard Chavez

Production designer: Darek Gogol

Supervising editor: Nick Fletcher

Visual effects supervisors: Don Paul, Dan Philips

Casting: Leslee Feldman

Costume designer: Kelly Kimball



Moses: Val Kilmer

Rameses: Ralph Fiennes

Tzipporah: Michelle Pfeiffer

Miriam: Sandra Bullock

Aaron: Jeff Goldblum

Jethro: Danny Glover

Seti: Patrick Stewart

The Queen: Helen Mirren

Hotep: Steve Martin

Huy: Martin Short

Running time -- 96 minutes

MPAA rating: PG


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