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Mixed or average reviews - based on 28 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 40 Ratings

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 28
  2. Negative: 3 out of 28
  1. Unfolds in a scrupulously accurate historical adventure story that depicts the world of Jesus' birth with an exciting you-are-there verisimilitude.
  2. By grounding everything that went before in an earthy realism, Hardwicke earns the elevation of the nativity sequence, one of the more beautiful scenes in this year's cinema.
  3. It's a handsome production, nicely shot by Elliot Davis on Italian and Moroccan locations, with a performance by Castle-Hughes ("Whale Rider") as the Virgin that's so pleasing and minimalist it could have been lifted from a fresco by Giotto.
  4. Other than portraying Mary as an overwhelmed teenager, mystified that God has chosen her to be the mother of his child, it doesn't offer anything that hasn't been playing out in grade-school pageants for decades.
  5. This is not a chance to "experience the most timeless of stories as you've never seen it before" but just the opposite: an opportunity, for those who want it, to encounter this story exactly the way it's almost always been told.
  6. The Nativity Story is a film of tame picture-book sincerity, but that's not the same thing as devotion. The movie is too tepid to feel, or see, the light.
  7. 25
    A deadly dull, by-the-numbers rendition of the Nativity story.

See all 28 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 24
  2. Negative: 4 out of 24
  1. DeirdreJ.
    Dec 9, 2006
    10
    I watched this movie for the second time today. As usual (!), there were people talking in the theatre, but (quite unusual!) they were saying I watched this movie for the second time today. As usual (!), there were people talking in the theatre, but (quite unusual!) they were saying things like, "Oh, that shot is gorgeous!" and "The photography is stunning, and so is the music." I agree. The movie is very beautiful. Some of it does look like a Chirstmas card, and some looks more like (for instance) National Geographic, but every shot is beautifully composed. I also found the acting very good, and I think the whole thing was very intelligently done. The movie does have two strikes against it (neither of which mattered to me very much). The first is that it sticks very closely to the biblical story. Those who expected it to contradict the tenets of Christianity in some way will of course be disappointed. Also, it's rather contemplative. Some people will automatically find that boring. In fact, it reminded me of "The New World," one of my favorite movies of last year. It is similarly beautiful, similarly measured in its pace, and similarly from a woman's perspective -- and I loved it! For what it's worth, I liked it the first time I saw it, but loved it the second time, when I was able to notice even more. BTW, the scenes with Gabriel were some of my very favorite, and I loved that they used a falcon to herald him. That just has so much symbolic resonance -- like a lot of the other details in the film. (I think it was a Lanners, but maybe a kestrel -- does anyone know for sure?). One of the things that impressed me more the 2nd time was the score. Yes, it's Christmas carols, but how interestingly they are used! And they used Anonymous Four for the vocals! How great is that! I loved the movie -- I think it's very intelligent, beautifully photographed and acted, and not at all boring. Of course, your mileage may vary (and I won't mind!). Expand
  2. TomasD.
    Dec 15, 2006
    10
    I Loved this touching Story of The Birth of Jesus and the rich Background into the times of his life. A must see!
  3. ellab
    Dec 3, 2006
    10
    Grace is a quiet poetry that Catherine Hardwicke puts into pictures. The surprise is in the tremendously nuanced portrayals by Castle-Hughes Grace is a quiet poetry that Catherine Hardwicke puts into pictures. The surprise is in the tremendously nuanced portrayals by Castle-Hughes and Issac (Mary and Joseph). To portray holier-than-thou icons with humanity and vulnerability is a brave and remarkable choice. Perhaps bolder than the Passion, where doubt is absent and the cinematic draw of epic violence over the emotional accessibility of the every-man leap of faith that we forget that we are all capable of each day in our choices of who we love, how we parent, how we choose to conduct ourselves each day. Kudos to the filmmakers for not selling out for a Hollywood high-octane version of a story that has its grace and its power in the daring of humble, real people with humor and fear to make a choice based on their faith, and not on glory. I hope that the subtlety of what a powerful choice the respect for the characters bravery and not cinematic spectacle is not lost on the audience. In my afternoon screening, I saw men and women look to the screen with tears in their eyes, and I hope the film inspires many to trust the quiet srength of the individual that is all but lost in our lives barraged with violence and information. It is an island of peace and hope in an ocean of self-doubt and self-obsession. See for yourself. Expand
  4. JaredB.
    Dec 22, 2006
    9
    How can anyone, who has seen this film, give it a less than glowing review? I just returned from seeing it, and I found it to be one of the How can anyone, who has seen this film, give it a less than glowing review? I just returned from seeing it, and I found it to be one of the greatest movies I have ever seen. My only complaint is in regards to the way the wise men were portrayed. while I don't doubt that they may have had senses of humor, this movie portrayed them as clowns. Other than this, The Nativity Story is an amazing film. Expand
  5. ChadS.
    Jan 1, 2007
    7
    "The Nativity Story" surprised me, perhaps even moved me. At its core is the story of a teenage girl steadfastly trying to keep her honor "The Nativity Story" surprised me, perhaps even moved me. At its core is the story of a teenage girl steadfastly trying to keep her honor against a wave of admonishment by her family. The casting of Keisha Castle-Hughes is key because she still looks like a young child. From their viewpoint, you can understand their confusion and heartbreak at the thought of her laying down with a man. And poor Joseph(Oscar Issac), talk about your bizarre love triangles. At a bazaar, en route to Bethelehem, a vendor rhapsodizes about the joy of seeing your face in a developing one. You can almost literally see the air go out of Joseph; his defeated countenance is priceless, and the consoling hand that Mary offers is a beautiful grace note(now, now, there, there, I'm with you, Joseph, not God). The journey of the three wisemen, and the tyranny of King Herod's rule are necessary evils, essential subplots to keep the Bible-thumpers happy, but the story of Mary and Joseph is for everybody. Expand
  6. StelP.
    Dec 1, 2006
    6
    There's something missing from this film, even though the quality is good and the Biblical storyline is accurate. There seems to be There's something missing from this film, even though the quality is good and the Biblical storyline is accurate. There seems to be little sense of purpose in the acting, and the cinematography adds to the drab feeling...no vibrant colors at all, even with the Wise Men and their outfits. Way too much brown and gray. Even the greens were flat. At least some vibrant colors could've added some spark to this dull visual spectacle. Even critical parts, like the angelic appearances and the Holy Spirit appearing in the form of a dove, come off flat. The flights of the dove almost look like file footage! You're hardpressed to know if it's a dove or a pigeon. It's strength is in the Biblical storyline, but unfortunately, the screenplay and the acting don't flesh out the urgency of the story. I really appreciated the focus on Joseph's character as a young man...character in the sense of the man himself, and his importance in this story. If there's one thing the movie exposes, it's the background story of this man who lived through such an historic event. And you're able to feel a bit of the tension and fear of the unknown that both he and Mary experienced. As a young couple from a small village, they truly had to trust God that everything happening to them was working together towards the birth of Jesus, the Savior for all mankind. Would you and I have had that type of faith? Expand
  7. JoeyL.
    Dec 4, 2006
    1
    This film was awfully boring. Why doesn't someone come up with an original idea anymore? If the makers had argued that Joseph really This film was awfully boring. Why doesn't someone come up with an original idea anymore? If the makers had argued that Joseph really impregnated Mary, then maybe I'd have paid attention. As it was, I fell asleep three to four times during the screening. I had a dream in which someone created an interesting movie about Jesus. Then I woke up and had to watch this drivel. Expand

See all 24 User Reviews

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