- Don Ford
Don Reviews "Bilal: A New Breed Of Hero"
Animated features have made great strides in the last five to ten years alone to the point where it almost looks real life. There are films where things like human hair is so detailed that literally see every individual strand is visible. In some ways this is a good thing, but the downside is how much larger the gap is becoming with the great and struggling studios.
“Bilal: A New Breed of Hero” is the new animated film co-directed by Khurram H. Alavi and Ayman Jamal, who also co-wrote the script and both being fairly new to the industry. Featuring the voice talents of of Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Oz, Pompeii), Ian McShane (John Wick, Deadwood) China Anne McClain (Descendants 2, Ten), Jacob Latimore (The Maze Runner, Ride Along), Thomas Ian Nicholas (American Pie, The Lost Tree), Michael Gross (Tremors, C Street), Mick Wingret (The Princess and the Frog, Mecard), and Fred Tatasciore (Robot Chicken, The X-Files), it is based on the historical events of Bilal (Akinnuoye-Agbaje & Latimore) in the Middle East from 580 to 640 A.D. Bilal was a young boy who along with his sister Ghufaira (McClain & McWilliams) is orphaned in a raid and put into slavery. They both end up in the trading village of Hejaz and are owned by wealthy and ruthless trader Umayyad (McShane). Bilal always quietly resisted slavery, and one day, he meets up with the Master of Merchants, who is the voice of the revolution against slavery. After earning his freedom, Bilal goes on a quest to free his sister and end slavery for his people.
There are some beautiful colors and animation in this film, but there are times it went out of focus for me and gets very choppy, where the movement and speaking reminded me of the animated robots in some high-end amusement park attractions (I may not be able to give the name, but there is a chance that Mickey will get mad). This also reminds me of the Claymation movements of the classic “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”. Now, I can understand if it was live robotics, but since that was not the case, it was very distracting for me. The voice work is OK, but there were times the tones and trying to get too emotional was a big turn off. I love McShane, but I just could not get him into his character as I did in “Kung Fu Panda” versus constantly hearing Al Swearingen from “Deadwood”.
The story line has good points and bad, but at an hour and forty-five minutes “Bilal: A New Breed of Hero” did not seem too long. There were points where it flowed well and kept me interested, but there were also points in the story that dragged where spent too much time is spent on certain aspects while other events that were more impactful in the story overall seemed rushed, especially in the third act. There were also times were it seemed like the film makers relied too much on the emotion, which fell flat as well. Based on all of these factors, I will not see this film again.