The Nativity [2010] (Movie Review)

Which way to Great Britain?
Which way to Great Britain?

Plot Summary

In some alternate universe long long ago, first century Judea looked like Europe and the Jews lived in European-style houses with glass windows.  All the Jews were of European descent and sported cockney accents.  The families of Joseph and Mary had enough money to throw parties and to eat fine food.  Everybody wore those ridiculous outfits you see in cheesy church plays and even had some makeup.  The only non-white people in their sphere were Hispanic shepherds (is this a subtle message for modern race relations?) and those Asian and African guys known as Magi.  Mary had creepy conversations with British angel guys and she and Joseph sometimes acted like a dysfunctional American couple.  The BBC historian’s personal favourite (haha) was that psychic gypsy that served as Mary’s midwife.  If you think all of this is a complete joke, you’re wrong and need to be educated by BBC, who knows far more about what really happened in the Bible than you do.  Or you can just watch this horrid viewing experience for yourself and see that I am not making any of this up.  Like seriously, this got approved.  And no, this is a not a plot summary.  This is a rant because I wanted it to be, kthxbye.

 

Production Quality (-2 points)

Did we mention that nothing about this miniseries-turned-movie is even remotely accurate to history?  Those BBC guys weren’t even trying when they put Mary in a house with glass windows.  With glass!  In first century Judea!  In fact, all of the sets are totally inaccurate to history.  The camera work and stuff like that aren’t even really that good, but they are so overshadowed by the complete and utter nonsense spewed by the remainder of this film that it doesn’t really matter.  I hate this film so bad that I gave it negative points, mostly for total disregard of reality.  So sue me if you think this isn’t a real review.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-2 points)

Since when were Mary’s parents rich enough to throw even a moderate dinner party?  Since when did first century Jews have dinner parties that resembled the semi-modern Western world?  There is an infinite list of pertinent questions I could ask about this film.  What’s with the grinding planets?  Why does the Magi subplot seem like a cross between Lord of the Rings, Aladdin, and the Magi subplot from that better Nativity movie with a similar title?  Why does Mary constantly talk about being ‘bathed in light’?  What is the purpose of the Hispanic shepherd subplot?  Why do Mary and Joseph have emotionally unstable fights like a dysfunctional American couple?  Why does Mary’s invented midwife resemble a psychic?  And finally, why did BBC even make this movie?  From histrionic dialogue to historically inaccurate storylines, there are no redeeming qualities to this film and it is downright offensive.

Acting Quality (-2 points)

Screaming matches, British voices, useless conversations, oh my!  There are too many actors and actresses in this movie that I recognize from way better BBC movies, like ones that are based on those books that depict the fictional yet realistic lives of actual British characters in the 19th and 20th centuries.  We don’t have to sit here and take this garbage.  First-century Romans and Judeans were not remotely European.  The Europeans actually were the ‘bad guys’ back then, or something like that.  You’re welcome for the history lesson.

Conclusion

Some may criticize me for being so hard on this film, but seriously, if anyone else besides BBC tried to make a historical film and made it so grossly inaccurate as this one did, they would be out of a filmmaking job forever.  They would be discredited and ridiculed, kind of like what I’m doing in this review.  It’s downright offensive to totally alter historical accounts for the sake of convenience, thus a negative score is warranted.  So if you’re looking for that perfect holiday film for the whole family to enjoy, unless you like out-of-touch unrealistic portrayals of historical figures, steer clear from this one.

 

Final Rating: -6 out of 10 points

 

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The Ark {Noah’s Ark} [2015] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

In another overly British production loosely based on Biblical events, Noah and his family are depicted as an angry, dysfunctional unit fighting to survive on their agricultural incomes in a world full of atheists and hedonists.  They’re also the only white people around.  Noah, the unquestioned but mostly aloof patriarch, is told by an angel that a flood is going to sweep across the planet and destroy everything.  Therefore, he needs to build a boat for him and his family—and a whole bunch of other random people—to be saved.  Also, there’s apparently no call for any animals to board the ark at all.  Despite opposition from his family and the people ‘in town’, Noah and his wife build the massive lifeboat almost singlehandedly before scrambling around and getting on the ark just as the flood waters rise.  Good thing they were able to fit about thirty people and no animals on that giant vessel before the hurricanes overtook the planet.

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

If you haven’t figured it out yet, we didn’t particularly like this film.  But we will begin with this film’s one positive quality—most of the characters seem authentic most of the time, such as actually getting dirty and muffed up.  But otherwise, there is nothing good to say.  There are too many modern nuances and costumes.  The camera work is just okay—there are too many outside shots ruined by poor angles that catch too much sunlight.  A majority of the time, dialogue is indiscernible due to unusually loud and annoying background music.  The editing is terrible, with tons of wasted time and useless scenes, which we will see more of next.  In short, The Ark isn’t even partially redeemed by professional production.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-2.5 points)

There’s plenty of real content in the Scriptural narrative on Noah that can be expounded on, yet this creative team chose to ad lib and transpose modern family struggles on top of the story.  Noah’s relationship with God is replaced with odd conversations with an angel.  If Noah’s family isn’t shown eating that mysterious pizza from The Bible miniseries, then they’re having childish skirmishes and fistfights with each other.  Noah’s fictional fourth son has a very large role, including his nightly illicit activities.  As a character, Noah is inaccessible and lofty, a typical Bible character error.  Abstract philosophical discussions that fit in more in modern Great Britain replace meaningful dialogue.  If someone wants to complain about ethnocentrism in modern Western film, look no further than Bible films.  In short, The Ark barely attempts to stay true to the historical truth.  While some Bible movies commit small inaccuracy errors, this one uses the characters and invents a primitive soap opera transposed on top of a natural disaster plotline.

Acting Quality (-1 points)

Did we mention these actors are British?  They’re British.  Not only that, but it seems to suggest that the white characters, primarily only Noah’s family, are the ‘good’ characters, while the multicultural characters are the ‘bad’ ones.  The truth is, we can’t really be sure what ethnicity any of these people actually were—likely nothing like what we have today—but the least that could have been done was at least attempt to use primarily Middle Eastern actors and actresses.  As it is, the cast that has been assembled here is overly dramatic.  Women are portrayed as mostly silent kitchen helpers.  In short, there is no end to this movie’s problems.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, it cannot be effectively said that Christian-led Bible films are better than mainstream Bible films.  The truth is that truly watchable Scripture-based films are very few and far between.  People need to know that the Bible isn’t just a bunch of silly mostly-untrue narratives.  Movies like The Ark only contribute to this cultural storyline, and perhaps purposely so.  But Christian film makers have nothing to say about this unless they are going to make meaningful, accurate, and professional Bible-based movies that can overshadow movies like this one with better overall quality.  The world is waiting.

 

Final Rating: -3 out of 10 points