Some Christmas Movie Reviews
These are my own opinions. You are welcome to post your own or respond to these.
The Nativity, 2006
Live action. Written by the guy who wrote Finding Forrester and Secretariat. A dramatic and reverent film that includes at its heart a loving relationship between Mary and Joseph. Well-done, realistic, inspiring, and full-length. Not for younger children. 2006 from New Line Cinema.
This is a full-length movie. Break it into two parts or use only certain chapters depending on your available time and age range.
2017, Sony Animation
Saw (most of) "The Star" last weekend. It was "ok" but our preschool-age grand-daughter grew restless and we had to leave the theater about 2/3 the way through when she lost interest. She also thought the dogs were "too scary."
When I shared my review on our Rotation.org Facebook page, a number of people said, "we loved it!" (Check out some of those reviews posted below.)
This movie will likely start appearing at church movie nights and cable TV because of its star voice cast, so be sure YOU have reviewed it before showing it.
Excerpts from other people's reviews that I thought hit the nail on the head:
- ...trying to split the difference between Sunday school and the Cartoon Network, but the results meet the standards of neither.
- Never overcomes the impression that it exists only to make a certain sum of money.
- The film pinballs between reverence and poop jokes.
Why Do We Call It Christmas?
with Buck Denver
from the people who made the terrific What's in the Bible series, 2011.
This DVD has some good content, but it's too long and overly-explanatory (talky talk) for children. This was surprising because I love the rest of the What's in the Bible series of DVDs fro the same people.
After previewing it, and thinking it was "good enough," I showed it to a group of 1st through 5th graders at a Fellowship Event. The longer it went on, the more they squirmed. Much of the content went right past the younger ones. At times, the pace slows down as it tries a little too hard to explain things.
At 44 minutes long (TV length?), it reminds me of a lot of sermons that could have been made MUCH better had they made it shorter, done a little less "talky talk," and left a few pages on the cutting room floor.
HOWEVER.... In ANOTHER DVD made by the same company...
Part 1 of DVD #10: "Jesus is the Good News" from the What's in the Bible series, DOES do a VERY good job of explaining how the Old Testament led to the New, ...why the coming of Jesus the Messiah was necessary, and what he'd do for the world. It's about 15 minutes. No "birth" story, per se. Rather, it's about "why" and "why then?"
The Promise (Glorious Films)
Animated, musical. See the outline and review here at rotation.org. I like the modern animation and the fact that it's a musical -but not "kiddie" music. Lots of majesty and feeling.
The Fourth Wiseman
One of my favorite "Bible" movies ever.
Stars Martin Sheen as the fourth or "other" Wiseman who missed joining his friends on their journey to Bethlehem because he kept being pulled into helping others. He eventually spends the wealth he was going to give the Christ child. At the end of his life, he comes upon Jesus who is walking to the cross and is blessed with the realization that his life of service was his gift to Jesus. (1985)
Here's a preview of this 70 minute movie from YouTube:
You can see a full-length version on YouTube for private review at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfVgUqR5oPs
Available on DVD or for download from your favorite online movie retailer, or Amazon. REALLY worth the price.
Follows the famous story by Henry Van Dyke, a famous 19th Century Presbyterian preacher.
The Mormon Church made a kids' cartoon version of the story which is a lot shorter. You can see it on YouTube at https://youtu.be/yzNwLEfxlDQ Check this related post for more about these two "Fourth Wiseman" videos.