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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner, Simon Wells
Cast:
Val Kilmer, Ralph Fiennes, Michelle Pfeiffer
Writing Credits:
Philip LaZebnik

Synopsis:
An Egyptian prince learns of his identity as a Hebrew and his destiny to become the chosen deliverer of his people.

Box Office:
Budget
$70 Million.
Opening Weekend
$14,524,321 on 3118 Screens.
Domestic Gross
$101,413,188.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish DTS 5.1
French DTS 5.1
French Canadian DTS 2.0
Japanese DTS 5.1
Dutch DTS 5.1
Flemish DTS 5.1
Portuguese DTS 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Japanese
Dutch
Portuguese
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Japanese
Dutch
Portuguese

Runtime: 99 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 10/16/2018

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Directors Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner and Simon Wells
• “The Making of Prince of Egypt” Featurette
• Multi-Language Presentation
• “The Basics of Animation” Featurette
• “Focus on Technical Effects” Featurette


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

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-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


RELATED REVIEWS


The Prince of Egypt [Blu-Ray] (1998)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 25, 2019)

An early entry from DreamWorks Animation, 1998’s The Prince Of Egypt goes back to Biblical sources. Moses (voiced by Val Kilmer) grows up the son of Pharaoh Seti (Patrick Stewart) and the brother of Rameses (Ralph Fiennes).

Moses learns that his parents adopted him when he floated their way as an infant. It turns out Moses comes from Jewish blood, and confronted with this shocking knowledge, he abandons his place of privilege and gets to know his real people.

Called by God to lead the Jews out of bondage, Moses tries to negotiate with Rameses – now pharoah - but he won’t listen to his pleas. This leads to a series of mystical adventures as Moses delivers the Jews from their plight.

Although it took multiple viewings - one during its theatrical run and more on home video - I finally must admit it: I like The Prince of Egypt. Actually, this doesn’t provide a radical change of heart. As it's not like I used to loathe the film and now view it as a classic.

Instead, I'd always found Egypt to provide an interesting and well-executed film. However, it simply didn't do much for me. I could never put my finger on the reasons for my lukewarm reception, but something about the movie left me cold, as you can see if you read my review of the original DVD.

On third viewing, something about Egypt struck a chord. Sometimes I'll revisit films that never did much for me and find new life in them, and that happened here.

Previously, I thought Egypt delivered a noble and well-meaning film, but not one that conveyed its subject especially well. After all, the story of Moses certainly has an awful lot going for it, and it shouldn't be hard to make the tale dramatic and emotionally-compelling. Unfortunately, Egypt just didn't move me during my first two viewings.

With my third viewing, I could ignore some of the film's flaws better. For instance, I initially thought the occasional use of comic relief and some slightly-anthropomorphized animals felt inappropriate.

This wasn't because I believed the story needed to be told with the gravest seriousness. Instead, I simply felt that the goofiness of these moments jarred the viewer due to the change in tone.

That said, such segments don't bother me now, as they seem less abrupt and they fit the project more aptly. Granted, I'd still like to lose the wacky camel who periodically nibbles at Moses' hair, or the goat who stares in disbelief at Moses when he dunks his head in a water trough, but I no longer really dislike these events.

I also used to have some prior problems with a few vocal performances. Kilmer works well, as he effectively conveys the character's wide range of emotions and makes Moses a believable part.

Fiennes also provides a strong effort as brother Rameses, the eventual villain of the piece. Although Fiennes irritates me at times - I just can't forgive him for The English Patient - I must acknowledge he's a talented performer, and he brings surprising depth to Rameses.

Though he could become a stock baddie, Fiennes makes sure we understand the complexity of the character's emotions. When misfortune befalls Rameses, we don't cheer for his defeat, though we're strongly on the side of the opposition. Rameses is a very flawed person, but he's not just a cartoon villain whose pain we rejoice.

Some of the supporting vocal performances feel less effective, however, and Michelle Pfeiffer simply can’t manage much of a presence as Moses' wife Tzipporah. There's nothing terribly wrong with her work, but I never feel that she commands any attention. She occasionally fills space on the screen but leaves little emotional residue.

As Moses's siblings, both Sandra Bullock and Jeff Goldblum provide decent performances, but there's something about them that just seems vaguely wrong in the parts. I like both actors - especially Goldblum, who's always been a favorite - but the two display a quirkiness that feels vaguely inappropriate here.

Nonetheless, I can't strongly quibble with any of the actors, and even though I don’t feel wild about Goldblum and Bullock, I will acknowledge both enjoy some strong moments. Only Pfeiffer's performance truly leaves me cold.

In any case, via my third viewing, I feel more positively about the acting than had previously been the case. Even with the faults I discern, the problems seem less glaring than during prior screenings.

Really, the only continuing concern I maintain about Egypt stems from the animation. For the most part, the artwork in the film seems quite strong, as characters move fluidly and believably, and much of the art looks simply gorgeous.

My problems revolve around the integration of computer animation in Egypt. Primitive circa 1998, much of the film uses this kind of work, and it suffers.

For example, when baby Moses gets set adrift, he rests in a CGI cradle. Many of the special effects also clearly come on a computer. From the burning bush to the parting of the Red Sea, it's obvious that human hands never touched much of the material.

Late 90s CG just didn't blend well with traditional cel animation. These segments retain a strangely artificial look that makes their origins obvious.

It's not that they look too "perfect". Rather, they just seem a little too slick and smooth. These parts of Egypt really stand out to me, and these elements occasionally take me out of the story.

But only occasionally, because I find myself much more involved in this tale than I expected. Despite the fact it still seems a little odd to see a cartoon representation of the tale of Moses, the movie portrays the events vividly and with strength. It's a solid movie that deserves your attention.


The Disc Grades: Picture C-/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

The Prince of Egypt appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not an awful presentation, the transfer disappointed.

Sharpness varied. While much of the offered good delineation, the film rarely seemed quite as well-defined as one would expect from an animated tale, and more than a few soft spots emerged.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I noticed no edge haloes. The film boasted a nice layer of grain, but it also came with occasional spots, specks and marks. Though these didn’t dominate, they seemed more prominent than I’d hope.

Colors went with a fairly earthy palette that emphasized sandy tones and reds. The hues felt mediocre, as they never brought much life to the film and could seem a bit flat.

Blacks tended to appear inky, and shadows were somewhat dense. For instance, the shot of Moses and Tzipporah in their bedroom became nearly impossible to discern.

In general, the movie seemed darker than one might anticipate. Again, this was never a terrible image, but it definitely failed to live up to expectations and deserved nothing better than a “C-“.

On the other hand, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack worked well, and the mix featured a consistent bias toward the front spectrum. During much of the film, the forward channels dominate the action, and they do so nicely.

Audio seemed precisely placed with the environment and all sounds blended together neatly. This meant everything meshed together nicely.

The surrounds provided a lot of positive ambiance throughout the film, and on many occasions they became much more active partners. Actually, even during quiet moments, the rear speakers contributed some solid effects.

For example, at the very start of the film, we heard the gentle sound of a tambourine deftly travel from speaker to speaker. This added to the way in which I was drawn into the story.

Yeah, it doesn't sound like much, but I thought it was a nice touch, and the track came filled with similar moments. When wind whipped around the screen, we hear convincing effects from all five channels.

For the most part, the soundtrack didn't overwhelm the viewer, though a few moments came close. The parting of the Red Sea provided audio of genuine power and depth, and that moment stood as the most stunning of the film. Other big moments worked well, too, such as the scene that covered most of the plagues.

Audio quality appeared solid. At times I felt the dialogue didn't blend particularly well with the action. Some of the speech didn't match up well with the rest of the track and these lines could appear somewhat artificial.

However, dialogue always came across as warm and distinct. I detected no problems related to intelligibility or edginess.

Music displayed good range and seemed nicely bright and clear. Actually, I thought the songs could have appeared a little more crisp and vivid, but they generally were smooth and dynamic.

Effects fared best in the mix. From the quiet moments I already mentioned to killer show-stoppers like sandstorms or the fire-tornado that stops Rameses from chasing the Hebrews, the track boasted excellent reproduction of these effects. Ultimately, this became a compelling track.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD? The lossless audio boasted more vigor and range.

As for visuals, the Blu-ray brought superior colors and accuracy, but the lackluster nature of the presentation limited improvements. I strongly suspect the Blu-ray just reused the nearly 20-year-old DVD transfer, so it got a boost from the format’s superior capabilities and that was it. The movie needs work.

The Blu-ray includes most of the DVD’s extras, and we open with an audio commentary from directors Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner and Simon Wells. All three sit together for a running, screen-specific look at story/characters, animation and design choices, music, cast and performances, and connected domains.

Though some commentaries for animated films feel dry, this one offers a lively look at the film. The directors cover both technical and creative issues in nearly equal measure and make this an engaging and informative track.

Next comes a program called The Making of The Prince of Egypt. It runs 25 minutes, 39 seconds and features Wells, Chapman, Hickner, executive producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, producer Penney Finkelman Cox and Sandra Rabins, composer Hans Zimmer, songwriter Stephen Schwartz, story supervisors Kelly Asbury and Lorna Cook, DreamWorks co-founder Steven Spielberg, background supervisors Paul Lasaine and Ron Lukas, supervising animators Fabio Lignini, Kristof Serrand, David Brewster, Serguei Kouchnerov, Rodolphe Guenoden, and Patrick Mate, scene planning supervisor David Morehead, head of technology Rob Hummel, visual effects supervisors Dan Philips and Don Paul, sequence leads Doug Ikeler and Jamie Lloyd, CG crowd animator Wendy Elwell, supervising sequence lead Henry Labounta, and actors Sandra Bullock, Val Kilmer, Jeff Goldblum, Ralph Fiennes, and Helen Mirren.

“Making” looks at story and characters, cast and performances, music, research, art and animation. Along the way, we get some decent details, but an awful lot of the show commits to praise for the film and all involved. As such, it’s not nearly as informative as it could be.

A staple of many animated discs, we find a Multi-Language Presentation for “When You Believe”. It plays the song with snippets in English, German, Flemish, Euro Portuguese, Finnish, Icelandic, Thai, Czech, Slovak, Hungarian, Mandarin, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Danish, French, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese, Castillian Spanish, Cantonese, Swedish, Polish, Dutch, Norwegian, and Latin Spanish.

This becomes a fun way to hear the song. In particular, it’s amazing how well the producers match all the different vocalists, as they blend nicely.

With The Basics of Animation, we get a nine-minute, 32-second featurette with Hickner and Wells. They add commentary to a procession of shots that lead us from story reel to “work in progress” animation to final animation.

This turns into an effective view of the different stages. Hickner and Wells offer good insights about the material as well.

Finally, Focus on Technical Aspects lasts five minutes, 58 seconds and concentrates on different aspects of animation techniques. It becomes a pretty efficient overview.

When I initially reviewed The Prince of Egypt, I gave it a lukewarm endorsement. However, I changed my view and think the movie tells a classic tale in an evocative and moving manner. The Blu-ray boasts very good audio and some useful supplements but picture quality seems dated and flawed. Though I like the movie, the visual presentation disappoints.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main