It’s strange to give Jesus a B- because like Superman and Star Wars before it this story will hold a lot of appeal for some and very little for others. It almost defies grading in the sense that it’s not meant as a piece of entertainment, or I should say it’s not solely meant as a piece of entertainment. No, what we have here is an “ethos.” You either buy into Christianity or you don’t. You either subscribe to the Bible and The Nativity Story or you don’t. Putting a grade on a movie that’s not meant to stand up to criticism is weird.
What are the chances of a non churchgoing person seeing this? They can’t be good. I don’t really dig bringing religion into reviews because it’s a personal thing, a personal choice, and unlike most issues it’s a non-negotiable for people. You’re not going to change your beliefs in God because of me, and I’m going to believe what I believe no matter your feelings towards it. So why not leave it out of the dialogue altogether? Unfortunately, on a film like this you basically have to know where the reviewer is coming from to make a decision on whether the opinion matters to you. So here goes nothing. I am familiar with the Nativity Story because I grew up Episcopal and went to Catholic school. However, though I am familiar with the Bible and the belief system in no way do I consider myself locked into Christianity. I don’t go to church. I don’t believe the Bible is literal in the slightest. I would never ever see this if I wasn’t a reviewer. It’s not innovative, the message is manipulative, and it wouldn’t appeal to me as a form of entertainment. So my expectations were low going in.
And now it’s time for the actual review, hopefully you’ve decided whether or not we’re simpatico. The movie, as a straight up story, is fairly well done. It’s the story of Mary and the birth of Jesus, her struggle to explain a pregnancy where she didn’t have sex, and the miracle of the birth of the “savior of men.” It does drag a bit in the beginning as Herod is portrayed as a raving loon whose main goal in life is to persecute him some Jewish folk. Fine and dandy, I’m with you, an underdog “good versus evil” battle. The film picks up steam throughout however, and the last 20 minutes are very strong. It feels like a happening when everything is coming together to form a bow-tied miracle.
That said, I bet you are still in one of two camps. You’re a devoted Christian and thus morally obligated to give this film your money. Or you’re a non practicing person who wouldn’t bother with this if they set it up to play at your house for free. Christians will be happy; it’s a faithful and entertaining retelling of a classical biblical tale. Castle-Hughes is great as the lead and continues her road towards super-stardom. For the rest of us (who won’t see it) it’s an odd little film all the way around. It was an odd choice for director Catherine Hardwicke, it’s an odd film to judge, and it’s slow and obvious at times. As a story it works a little better than average. As a recommendationÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ well, you made up your mind on that long ago.