If you are looking for a film that is meant to inspire and fill you with hope, look no further than the new animated film Bilal: A New Breed of Hero. This PG-13 film centers around the man Bilal and his life. As a boy, he dreamed of becoming a great warrior, but when his village is raided and his mother is killed, Bilal and his sister are sold into slavery. After many years of serving cruel masters, Bilal finally manages to find the strength to rise up against his captors and help to free many others who were stuck in his same fate. The film is inspired by true events and though filmmakers have taken some liberties with the story, much of the source material is based on fact. Bilal Ibn Rabah was a real person who was an Ethiopian slave who after converting to Islam because of a companion to the prophet Muhammad after his emancipation.
This was an interesting story for me to watch. It is about breaking free of the chains that bind you (both internal and external) and being free. The film refreshing to watch because it is not only taking an animated film and giving it some very serious subject matter to work with but also because we are given a more ethnic hero than we are used to seeing on the screen. It is wonderful to watch. I will say I felt that some of the movie posters are slightly misleading. Seeing a poster of a young boy in a dress-up warrior mask may not actually convey what you are about to see. Again as I said this is PG-13 (only the 2nd animated film to be given such a rating with the movie 9 as the first) and it earns that rating. There is a lot of dark subject matter in the film. Lots of poor slaves being abused by their masters or even several deaths. It can feel pretty intense to young viewers so definitely keep that in mind before bringing your young children.
This film is a very glossed over version of Bilal's life. We don't get too deep into religion with this film as it is more about being freedom and equality than it really is about religion, through religion does play a small part in the film. Mostly it is shown being used to keep up the status quo and keep poor people poor and keep the hierarchy of slaves and masters in order. At the time when men worshiped idols and people were taught to believe that their status in life was their faith and they could only be born into their proper caste and there was no way of changing it. When Bilal is faced with a different religion that is sweeping the countryside he begins to wonder why people believed in idols at all. He starts to see that all men are equal as we all are made the same, we live our lives the same and we die the same. it is fairly inspiring to watch. The animation is well done and a lot of the fight scenes are pretty incredible to see. there were times I felt like I was watching an ancient version of The Matrix with some of their fighting styles. It was just fun to see.
If you are looking to broaden your horizons than Bilal: A New Breed of Hero may be just what the doctor calls for. Again please mind the PG-13 rating for younger kiddos, but I think the older kids should really enjoy this one. We scored Bilal: A New Breed of Hero with a solid B+.
You can see Bilal: A New Breed of Hero in theaters February 2nd.