Bilal: A New Breed of Hero

This is an animated movie that isn’t for kids. It’s too violent for the younger ones, and the older kids will be bored by it.

Bilal ibn Rabah is a 7th century African slave, who watched as his mom was murdered, as he and his sister were made slaves. He’ll eventually become a warrior and early friend and follower of the prophet Muhammed. This is Dubai’s first animated feature (Barajoun Entertainment). And the animation is beautiful — galloping horses, vast sandy deserts, and exciting battle scenes. While there were a few scenes where the animation didn’t look right overall, the look of it was impressive. Some of the folks that worked on Monsters, Inc. and Shrek were involved, so that’s no surprise.

It’s unfortunate that the dialogue is drivel, and the (sometimes fictional) story is a bit clumsy. Also, a lot of the characters are underdeveloped. My wife and I kept asking each other questions about people in it.

The film jumps from Bilal’s childhood, when his mom was alive, to scenes with him being tortured by his master. We see some flashbacks in the form of nightmares. Often times, these jumps in the story are awkward.

The diverse cast does solid voice work. They include singer/rapper Jacob Latimore, Adewale Akimuoye-Agbaje (Lost), and Andre Robinson as Bilal at various ages; Ian McShane, China Anne McClain, Michael Gross (Family Ties), Thomas Ian Nicholas (American Pie), Cynthia Kaye McWilliams, Al Rodrigo, and Sherrie Jackson.

It’s a shame the movie bored my wife and I, and a better script wasn’t written.

This gets 1 ½ stars out of 5.