I had never watched this movie before until a couple days ago when I noticed it on Netflix and decided to throw in my 99 minutes. This film was exactly what I had expected it to be, which is a mediocre film with a few songs and some beautiful shots. The voice acting in the movie is good, but ultimately forgettable with some strong voice-chemistry and some over-looked dramatic moments. The soundtrack is nothing special and– unlike its Disney rivals– does not seem to catch on. But what holds up the film is ultimately the remarkably beautiful landscape shots and color schemes.
The film features Val Kilmer as the voice of Moses (as well as God), and he does well in the role. One scene, in which he’s conversing with his bother Rameses in front of his son, where the stakes are some of the highest in the film, really showcases Kilmer’s attention to detail and nuance. His greatest moments however are when he’s onscreen with Rameses, voiced by Ralph Fiennes. Ralph Fiennes too puts in some great voice acting, but comes off a little dull when he’s not onscreen with Kilmer. It is truly the chemistry and sense of brotherhood that keeps the voice acting alive. Despite the fact that it is a musical film, neither of the characters sing a lot. Kilmer dos have somewhat of a solo song, which sounds fine, but the song itself is not very good.
Michelle Pfeiffer and Sandra Bullock also have a go at a few lines of dialogue, and that’s where the film really starts reaching its monotonous state. Neither of the two (otherwise fantastic) actresses puts in the extra little nuance or color that is required for voice acting. Voice acting requires all the nuance and character to be legible in the voice, which proves a difficult task for many film stars.
Jeff Goldblum also has a smaller part which too seems to falter from a lack of color and life. Danny Glover gets thrown into the film’s most useless and silly character (despite the fact the film stars two bumbling idiots), and despite Glover’s serious attempts of making sense out of the nonsensical character he voices, all his attempts fail. Patrick Stewart and Helen Mirren play the pharaoh and queen respectively and put in quite and effort which seems to pay off a little, but when the characters are as paper-thin as most of these characters are, even the best attempts fall short. Then we have the two bumbling idiots that are voiced by Steve Martin and Martin Short. These two acclaimed actors are wonderful– or would have been– if they had gotten more screen time.
The visuals in the film are what keep the film afloat. With stunning shots of desserts and ocean, as well as a few beautiful interpretations of famous Egyptian landmarks. But it is the scene in which Moses parts the seas which really manages to take the breathe away from the viewer and really showcase the wonderful animation that this film offers. his attention to detail and beautiful water-rendering is only really rivaled (at least in my opinion), by the water animation in Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur, which came out 17 years after The Prince of Egypt. The soundtrack however is not as remarkably beautiful and ground-breaking as the song’s are all forgettable and honestly: useless. This film could just as well have been a non-musical and it would be just as good if not better. All the singing (at least most of it) is sung by a boring chorus and with no dramatic affect or intent.
The story is pulled straight out of the bible and thrown onto the big screen with no major changes (well none that do anything cinematically-beneficial). If just the story had been improved with some alterations, the film would have been a lot better. The story is weirdly-paced, which much like many other bible adaptations, comes from the fact that the alterations were kept at a minimum. The screenplay too, is not great and features some of the most awkward transitions between beats, scenes, and themes. The screenplay also does not seem to understand the characters very well and throws around with them carelessly. So much could have been done to make this film better, just by tweaking the screenplay.
So yeah, this is not a great film when compared with some of Disney’s or Pixar’s better features. But it has a few nice moments and is worth watching- if not just for the parting-of-the-seas sequence. But maybe it’s better just to find that sequence on YouTube and skip the rest of the film which is awfully bogged down by its weak screenplay and pathetic soundtrack that does nothing to the film.
Best Aspect- The parting of the seas
Worst Aspect- Screenplay
Rating- 5.0/10 or F