Three directors and 16 writers succeed in carrying out much of Katzenberg's vision. The linear story of Moses is crisply told, and the look of the film is stunning; indeed, no animated film has looked so ready to be placed in the Louvre since Fantasia. Here is an Egypt alive with energetic bustle and pristine buildings. Born a slave and set adrift in the river, Moses (voiced by Val Kilmer) is raised as the son of Pharaoh Seti (Patrick Stewart) and is a fitting rival for his stepbrother Rameses (Ralph Fiennes). When he learns of his roots--in a knockout sequence in which hieroglyphics come alive--he flees to the desert, where he finds his roots and heeds God's calling to free the slaves from Egypt.
Katzenberg and his artists are careful to tread lightly on religious boundaries. The film stops at the parting of the Red Sea, only showing the Ten Commandments--without commentary--as the film's coda. Music is a big part (there were three CDs released) and Hans Zimmer's score and Stephen Schwartz's songs work well--in fact the pop-ready, Oscar-winning "When You Believe" is one of the weakest songs. Kids ages 5 and up should be able to handle the referenced violence; the film doesn't shy away from what Egyptians did to their slaves. Perhaps Katzenberg could have aimed lower and made a more successful animated film, but then again, what's a heaven for? --Doug Thomas
The movie puts a disclaimer at the beginning to inform the viewer that there are artistic and dramatic licenses taken with the story (a.k.a. whales in the Sea of Reeds). You should be prepared for this when you watch it. If you're watching this with the book of Exodus in your lap, you will see some differences in the two accounts. These changes don't adulterate the message of the story and should not detract from the viewing experience. Some differences to note are:
1) Seti's wife finding Moses rather than his daughter (Exodus 2:5),
2) The idea that Moses didn't know he was Hebrew and had no contact with his family (Exodus 2:7-11),
3) Moses' "accidentally killing the Egyptian rather than deliberately killing him (Exodus 2:12),
4) Rameses pleading with Moses to stay in Egypt as opposed to Pharaoh seeking to kill him (Exodus 2:15),
5) Any idea of personal rivalry between Pharaoh and Moses,
6) Moses speaking by himself before Pharaoh instead of Aaron speaking for him (Exodus 4:14-16),
7) An exaggerated role for Zipporah when she is actually hardly mentioned.
These changes may seem unnecessary, however they do add intrigue to the narrative and, as before mentioned, do not in any way seriously alter the story.
The quality of the music does fall firmly into the realm of opinion. However, as a person who holds a degree in music, and has performed and taught professionally for many years, my professional and personal opinion is that the music is quite wonderful. The comments made by another reviewer make me wonder if this person actually watched this movie. A comment about Steve Martin and Martin Short sounding least like their singing voices is the most absurd because they actually sang their own song. The singing voices are very closely matched to the point that I didn't know until watching the credits that Danny Glover had not sung his own song. A comment was also made about the firstborn sequence. The plague of the firstborn sequence is why this movie gets a PG rating. Focusing on the children dying rather than everyone involved makes sense, because that's the most shocking aspect of the final plague. It is also noteworthy that this tragedy is brought upon Egypt because of Pharaoh's stubbornness, not God's lack of compassion. A comment was also made about the two Egyptian soldiers dropping their staves and joining the Israelites. I found this to be a subtle nuance that demonstrates the serious research that went into the making of this movie. Exodus 9:20 makes it clear that there were Egyptians who feared the Hebrew God; and Exodus 12:38 records that many other people besides Hebrews participated in the exodus. There is no inaccuracy in the movie's depiction.
The wonderful music, superb performances by the actors, and breath-taking visual presentation make this a landmark event in animated movies. It has set a standard that all animated movies since have had to live up to.
A final note is in regard to the PG rating. This movie is rated PG so as to encourage parents to watch this with their children and guide them through the movie's more mature themes. Please consider this as I highly recommend this movie people of all ages.
You finally get to see a great animated film about people who have been subject to oppression, overcome their persecutors, and move on to victory!!!!
All the songs and animation are excellent. A 10 out of 10 for music, and a 9 out of 10 for animation.