Merry Christmas To All, And To All, A Good Night

There are many things I have wanted to blog about this past month, but I simply have not found the time to do it. I did learn how to snowboard in Colorado, which was great for the spirit and bad for the tailbone. But since the moral of the Christmas story is that we are unfulfilled enough in life to seek purpose in the most unlikeliest of places, you get a movie review. Maybe next year.

The Nativity Story: A Missed Opportunity, But A Good Family Outing

The Nativity Story is, unsurprisingly, the story of Jesus' birth. Writer Mike Rich is very faithful to the historical account of Luke 2 and includes several meaningful snippets of Old Testament prophecy. He does a very good job capturing the disenchantment of the Jewish people in 1st century Palestine, and the script includes some clever dialogue that brings the Three Wise Men of ancient Persia to life. The cinematography is very realistic, and Keisha Castle-Hughes is well cast as the young Mary.

But it left me wanting more. The Christmas story is really a collision of three stories, momentarily drawn together to produce the second greatest miracle the world has ever seen: Herod the King's quest for power, the Wise Men's quest for knowledge, and Israel's quest for redemption. In the story, Herod the Great is thwarted by the warnings of clever Gabriel (the film's most unspectacular character) , the Wise Men are richly rewarded for their intuition and sacrifice, and Israel never entirely understands the blessing God has bestown upon her.

The film ignores the delicate balance this story requires. King Herod is there, but his character is very shallow and boring, to say nothing of his brutish son, who spends the entire film brooding over his terrible lot in life. Rich and Director Catherine Hardwicke deserve credit for the entertaining interplay among the Wise Men, and Mary's family is very prominent in the earlier scences. For the 2% of the audience unfamiliar with the story, the beginning is very confusing. The formality of each Biblical reference is dusty and oblique, draining the vitality from the characters and forcing the audience to take the time to translate their speech into common English. A modern paraphrase of the New Testament would've brought the characters to life, even if it would disenfranchise textual purists.

Given the man that inspired it, this film could've been brilliant. Instead, it is merely a nice movie for the whole family to see. Mine did, and yours probably should too. At the very least, it will give you a better appreciation for the selfless, faithful action of ordinary people that make the 25th of December, and every day thereafter, a Merry Christmas.

2 Santas out of 4

HAHA! I love the new ratings system. I highly suggest you propose it to Ebert and Ropert... or whoever they are.
I have to go with the first 1:20 of Scrooged as the best Christmas movie. Bill Murray is wet your pants funny.
Burn MOV to ISO or RIFLEMAN folder: Click "Burn", select the "RIFLEMAN DVD Folder" or "ISO file" option, specify a folder to save them, and click "Start" to generate RIFLEMAN DVD COLLECTION files or ISO onto your computer.
TV Standard:"NTSC" is 30 fps, which is used in USA, Canada and Japan; "PAL" is 25fps, which is used in Europe and Asia.
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