Animated. Voices of Val Kilmer, Ralph Fiennes, Patrick Stewart, Sandra Bullock, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jeff Goldblum. Written by Philip LaZebnik, Nicholas Meyer. Directed by Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner, Simon Wells. Rated PG for intense depiction of thematic elements.

"Prince of Egypt" is an animated retelling of the story of the Ten Commandments, with the more sordid moments removed. Touted as the film to finally usurp Disney's crown, this Dreamworks production has been highly anticipated by movie-goers of all ages. The question on everyone's mind is: does it live up to the hype? The answer is almost, but it's still a rewarding cinematic experience and will disappoint few.

When we first meet Moses (Val Kilmer), it is as an infant being sent down river to the welcoming arms of the pharaoh's wife. When next we see him it is as young man chariot-racing his brother Ramses (Ralph Fiennes), the future Pharoah. When Moses is informed of his Hebrew heritage by the sister (Sandra Bullock) he never knew, his whole self image shatters. Rather than ignore the revelation, as he is encouraged to do by Ramses, Moses leaves the palace to pursue a life away from the persecution of his people.

After he has settle into his new life as a married sheep herder, Moses receives divine revelation from God, who has taken the form of a burning bush. Commanded to free the Hebrew people from the grips of the Egyptians, Moses embarks on a holy mission which will place him at odds with the brother he still loves.

"Prince of Egypt" lacks the sweeping grandeur of Cecil B. DeMille's 1956 version of "The Ten Commandments" and, to be honest, the earlier, campier film was more fun. That's not to say that this animated feature does produce its own pleasures in abundance. The voicework is understandably top-notch and some of the animation is simply breathtaking. Computer animation is seamlessly blended with traditional cel animation in ways untried before, often to great effect. There were times when it was easy to forget that this was a cartoon at all.

So, although the film didn't bowl me over as the ultimate in animated movie-making, I have no qualms recommending it to audiences both young and old. Just don't come expecting living gargoyles, talking trees, or singing dinnerware. The only thing supernatual about "Prince of Egypt" is the presence of God.

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