14 July 2014

Movie Review: "Joseph: King of Dreams"

Rated: Not Rated (US) / PG (Canada)
Starring: Ben Affleck, Mark Hamill, and Jodi Benson
Released: November 7, 2000 (VHS and DVD)
From the people that brought you The Prince of Egypt comes another animated Bible story! Joseph's mother and father consider him their most special son, but his many brothers despise him...so, they sell him into slavery.  While working at the house of the wealth Potiphar, Joseph gets wrongly accused and thrown into prison for a crime he didn't commit.  When Joseph hears his fellow prisoners discussing their dreams, God helps him interpret them...a gift that helps him in ways he never expected!
Based on the story in Genesis.

The Good
The Prince of Egypt was praised by critics everywhere for its wonderful animation, and this direct-to-video sequel--or is it prequel?--follows suit.  Every scene is lavishly illustrated, and (most of) the dream sequences are quite wondrous.  Also, the voice work--featuring A-list talent ranging from Ben Affleck (Daredevil) to Mark Hamill (Star Wars) to even Jodi Benson (The Little Mermaid)--was outstanding.  Some Christian movies suffer from shoddy production values, but this one definitely does not.  As for the story, I liked how Joseph was presented as a flawed individual--which he likely was--instead of a Mary Sue.

The Bad
I didn't really care for the songs that much, especially the ones in the background; they sounded too much like elevator music.  Also, though I know some liberties have to be taken to do a audiovisual interpretation of a Bible story, the makers changed a bit too much of the Biblical account.  Sure, VeggieTales changes up many of the stories from God's Word, but, with that series, it's always obvious what was in the original story and what wasn't; with Joseph: King of Dreams, it wavers too much between faithfulness to the Good Book and deviating from it.  Not only that, but...the dream sequence involving the cows was weird and freaky, even though it did feature nice computer animation.

The story of Joseph and his "coat of many colors"--or, depending on your translation, "richly ornamented robe"--has been adapted several times in various ways.  Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice did "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat", a Broadway musical; last year, a modern-day adaptation called Seasons of Gray came to theaters; Big Idea's VeggieTales did it Western-style with The Ballad of Little Joe; and, a few traditional-style films based on the story have been released in the past few decades...such as this one.  Though it was entertaining and fun, I can't imagine I'll be watching this again.  I wasn't a tremendous fan of The Prince of Egypt, but I could see why people liked it; if you did, you'll have to judge for yourself if you'll like this or not.  It's unsettling to think that DreamWorks went from releasing Biblical animated films to the crass Shrek quadrilogy.

Score: 3/5

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