The story of Moses, retold for 21st century audiences.
Rated PG for intense depiction of thematic elements. Care was taken not to offend Jewish, Christian, or Muslim audiences, but that doesn’t make this a film for all ages. While much of the violence is implied or highly stylized, it includes the hunting and killing of babies, and the persecution (including whipping) of slaves. The plagues are seen only in quick glimpses, but are still the plagues of Egypt. Even the journey of the basket carrying the infant Moses along the river is intense. Plus that whole Angel of Death. And the drowning of Pharaoh’s army. It’s a lot.
Less Heston, more singing
For its first traditionally-drawn* animated feature, Dreamworks went back a little farther for source material than The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. This reworking of The Ten Commandments shines a spotlight on the relationship between Moses (Val Kilmer) and Rameses II (Ralph Fiennes), young gadabouts in the pharaoh’s palace before Moses learns of his Hebrew origins. Studio head Jeffrey Katzenberg, who had overseen Beauty and The Beast and The Lion King, sticks to the formula by adding songs and attempts at comedy (Martin Short and Steve Martin as Egyptian high priests). But otherwise animation turns out to be a terrific way to make the story of the Exodus both more epic and iconic. —
*Or, the hand-drawn/computer hybrid we’ve had since The Great Mouse Detective.