MAMA BEAR HOLIDAY MOVIE REVIEW: “Journey to Bethlehem”
By Janette Nuss
Bring in the Christmas season with director Adam Ander’s musical presentation of “Journey to Bethlehem.” Opening November 10th, this family-friendly movie may well become one of the finest Christmas movies of 2023.
Lasting 98 minutes, “Journey to Bethlehem” retells the story of events leading up to the birth of Christ.
The movie is suited for Christians and non-Christians alike. Filmed in Spain, Anders combines humor, music, peril, and adventure while maintaining respect for scriptural accuracy as much as possible.
Faced with her father’s news of an arranged marriage, Mary (Fiona Paloma) is disappointed. She believes she is kissing her own plans goodbye. Her newly betrothed, Joseph and his parents have just arrived in Nazareth from their hometown of Bethlehem. The first encounter between the two in a market is anything but wonderful.
Then, one night, an angel named Gabriel (Lecrea) appears before Mary. If she thought her life was headed for change before, the message Angel Gabriel delivers tops everything. She receives his message with grace.
Sharing Gabriel’s message with her parents and Joseph, emotions were definitely not as full of grace. Struggling with the news, Joseph (Milo Manheim) wrestles with his inner self in a great scene and song, “The Great Deception.”
Meanwhile, King Herod (Antonio Banderas) begins having nightmares. Arrogant and consumed with power, this nefarious king introduces his character in the song “It’s Good to Be King.” Banderas does a fabulous job exuding the pure evil, insanity, and fat ego of King Herod.
Antipater (Joel Smallbone) is equally convincing as Herod’s son. Conflicted, he tries to live up to his father’s expectations, yet finds himself battling with his own personal sense of ethics through a powerful and soulful delivery of the song “In My Blood.”
On a much lighter note, off in the far distance, there is a trio of wise men watching the galaxy for a specific star. According to their understanding and calculations, the star will provide the exact location of the future king’s birth. Though they are comical, they are also presented as very knowledgeable and organized. Once the star appears, they travel to discuss their observation with King Herod.
Upon the wise men’s visit to King Herod, he decided to have a census. This meant everyone needed to go to the home of their birth to be counted. Since Mary was married to Joseph, she needed to go to his homeland, which was Bethlehem.
This is how the Journey to Bethlehem is initiated. Anders does an excellent job of depicting the terrain and stresses along the way. Although it is filmed in Spain, he gives the viewer a more realistic understanding of what Mary and Joseph went through to get to Bethlehem than other movies I have seen.
“Journey To Bethlehem” can be seen at Southcenter AMC 16, AMC Kent Station, Regal the Landing Renton, Regal Auburn *