1400 years ago, Bilal ibn Rabah (voice of Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, "Suicide Squad") told his mother he wanted to be a warrior who would protect her and his sister Ghufaira (voice of Cynthia Kaye McWilliams). Instead he witnessed her murder by Umayya (voice of Ian McShane), he and his sister enslaved. When he protects a starving boy, Saad (voice of Thomas Ian Nicholas), noting his big heart, teaches him about true freedom and Hamza (voice of Dave B. Mitchell) teaches him how to fight on the battlefield where the two will face Umayya, greatly outnumbered, in "Bilal: A New Breed of Hero."
This Saudi Arabian computer generated animation boasts photo realistic environments and touchable fabric and hair textures but its characters feel like those from a video game, their indivualized ethnic features notwithstanding. Filmmakers Khurram H. Alavi and Ayman Jamal, who also cowrote the screenplay, deliver a homogenized message about false gods, freedom and equality in a story that plays like 'Spartacus' without its gladiatorial arena. It's too adult for young children (several were escorted out of the screening I attended), and too ploddingly paced for their elders. Still, some of the visuals entrance as does the frequent use of low angle camera, accentuating the ferocious majesty of rearing horses.
Robin did not see this film.
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