Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Ten Commandments

Unleashing The Power of the Lord!

I suppose Biblical stories will never run out of fashion, though I find it a bit strange that amongst the numerous potential stories for retelling, the story of Moses got chosen again, and for an animated movie no less, although this one's done in 3D. Remember Prince of Egypt (1998)? Dreamworks Animation pretty much nailed it, especially when you have a relatively sucessful hit song as a byproduct (played ad nauseam until it became an irritant). Comparisons are inevitable given the content and the form, and unfortunately, this movie with input from IVL Animation (Singapore) didn't surpass the benchmark set by Prince of Egypt, but it's a slight improvement to the local 3D animated movies that have been released to date (that of Zodiac: The Race Begins and Legends of the Sea).

The Ten Commandments that this version offered is a super summary of events that are in the Bible, starting from an infant Moses in a basket surviving a water borne trip, and bypassing his growing up years creatively through the opening credits. If using Cecil B. DeMille's 1956 movie starring Charlton Heston as the baseline, then it managed to shear off more than 50% of that content, and added just a little bit more toward the last act, which seemed to drag it just a tad longer, including events that you may or may not already be familiar with, but definitely not in the DeMille film, nor in Prince of Egypt.

As an animated movie, and a 3D one at that, it still has not reached the level of quality that one is accustomed to from, say Pixar, which in my opinion deem worthy to be used to measure up against. The animation here is still blocky at certain bits, especially in character design and rendering. But credit has to be given for how key scenes were depicted, and I thought the Burning Bush was particularly well done. Other than that, the Parting of the Red Sea was another key moment, but unfortunately didn't offer any spectacular Wow moment that the earlier Ten Commandment movies provided. It pales compared to the 2D style in Prince of Egypt, though it included a nod towards it of sorts by having those whales(?) swimming around and seen through the water curtain.

The movie managed to snag a more international cast for its voicing of characters, and I thought having Christian Slater (Moses), Alfred Molina (Ramses) and Elliot Gould as the Voice of God, was a marked leap forward in helping the movie gain more attention, compared to the use of local actors (no disrespect of course) who may not have as much international clout to make the film appealing to audiences outside our borders.

This movie will most likely appeal to Sunday School groups, given that it's relatively free of scary images, but yet managing to tell the story of various plagues descending onto Egypt.

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