The Nativity Story

by Christopher Levitan

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday March 20, 2007

The Nativity Story is the handsomely mounted, decently acted film based on the journey of Mary and Joseph before the birth of Christ. The film is harmless enough and even solid family entertainment, but it's also glacially paced and uneven. While some of the set pieces and costuming are very good, the computer effects are often laughable. The touching moment of Christ's birth is almost ruined by unbelievably bad CGI light effects.

Mary is played by the wonderful young actress Keisa-Castle Hughes (of the excellent indie film Whale Rider) and she does her best with the film's stilted dialogue and uneven pacing. While it runs just 101 minutes in length, at times, the film feels like an eternity. What makes it a frustrating experience is that clearly it was made with sincerity and care; but judging from the finished product, it all went for very little. The director (Catherine Hardwicke) is responsible for the edgy independent film Thirteen, so at the very least, I expected some new wrinkles on the ancient tale, but alas, there were none. This is straight-forward Biblical entertainment, with all the violence (there's no blood at all) and edge removed from the tale.

I can understand making a film that appeals to a family audience, but there's little to recommend this film for those outside the core audience of Christians. They will be renting this film no matter what I say about it. They deserve a better though. The DVD is basically a bare-bones release. Besides the theatrical trailer, there's no special features, which is very disappointing. The DVD transfer is stunning though, and the film can be watched in either fullscreen, or the original anamorphic 2:35 widescreen aspect ratio, which is really the only way to go.

In the end, The Nativity Story is a good watch for the converted, but due to a plodding pace and lame effects, it's merely a passable weekend entertainment.

Theatrical Trailer


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