Everyone's a critic: 'The Nativity Story'

Friday, December 8, 2006

Starring Shohreh Aghdashloo, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Eriq Ebouaney, Ciaran Hinds, Alexander Siddig and Shaun Tour. Rated PG for some violent content, running time 100 minutes. (Cape West Cine)

Two stars (out of four)

This is a story that has been told time and time again, but in this realist version of the story the filmmakers seemed to capture the violent conditions that existed in the Holy Land quite well. In doing so, many of the scenes are lackadaisical and at times I almost felt as if I were watching a docudrama on the BBC instead of a motion picture. But alas, a few nicely done CGI backgrounds came to rescue and rekindled my interest.

The story focuses on Mary and her persecution by King Herod in his quest to eliminate a threat to his power. Some of the scenes are quite graphic, and the filmmakers make it easy to see why the world needed a savior at this point in history. You can still take the children, but don't expect them to sit still with their eyes glued to the screen for the duration of this picture.

-- Pat Pratt

Four stars (out of four)

"The Nativity Story" does something truly remarkable; it visually retells the story of the birth of Jesus in a way that is fresh and illuminating. Stunning scenery, acting and costumes allow viewers to be transported through time to a place of incredible physical adversity, extreme poverty and the existence of routine cruelty imposed by oppressive rulers.

The fulfillment of prophecies take place in the intervention of the Almighty, through the demonstration of faith, love and devotion of two unlikely human beings, Mary and Joseph. As it happens in many uplifting tales, the valuable gifts and life lessons provided in the story are overlooked by those who need them the most, as they pass by what appears to them to be of little worth.

The landscapes in the film were photographed on location in Nazareth, Italy and Morocco. Special effects added buildings that no longer exist today. The result of the cinematic combination is amazing. Instead of spending time this season focused on outdoor light displays and the number of presents under your tree, take time to see this movie. It is a real jewel, with an unforgettable message.

--- Marilou Shaner

Two stars (out of four)

"The Nativity Story" is, of course, the story of the birth of one of the most influential people of all time, Jesus. It takes a more in-depth look at Mary and Joseph, and how Mary's conception of a child without ever having been with a man is dealt with.

In that time, a woman being with child when she was not married would often be stoned to death. Most men of that time would have turned on the woman, but not only does Joseph not turn on her, he protects her, and after a visit from an angel, he believes her, without question.

You can see why Mary would be chosen, though she does not. She is quiet, simple, strong and has a faith that few others do. She accepts the angel's words with no hesitation.

Though the story is a timeless one and Mary is elegantly portrayed by Keisha Castle Hughes, the dialogue in places is dry and, well, too biblical. The three wise men try to add a dry, out-of-place humor. King Herod is not well-portrayed -- his cruelty and greediness are bland and old.

If you are into religious history it might be worth a look, but wait for the DVD.

-- Carrie Lloyd

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: