Journey to Bethlehem Blu-ray Review


  • Director: Adam Anders
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Fiona Palomo, Milo Manheim, Antonio Banderas
  • Dubbed: ‏ : ‎ Spanish
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ SONY
  • Number of discs ‏ : ‎ 1
  • MPAA rating ‏ : ‎ PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ Digital_copy, Blu-ray, Subtitled
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 98 minutes
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ January 16, 2024


         We may have had four Spider-Man franchises in the last two decades, but that is nothing compared to the number of times the nativity story has been revisited on film. Whether it is a sincere dramatic retelling like The Nativity Story (2006), an animated revision like The Star (2017), or a docudrama like Why the Nativity? (2022), there always seems to be a new approach to the familiar old story. Journey to Bethlehem is no exception, revising the story of Christ’s birth with a popular young cast and the structure of a lighthearted musical. Although the film is live action, it carries the tone and sensibility of an animated children’s film, shoehorning in silly comedic elements to go with the goofy over-acting and mildly catchy songs.


        As a lower budget film produced by the faith-based company, Affirm Films, Journey to Bethlehem does attempt a sincere retelling of the biblical narrative, even if the filmmakers can’t help but simultaneously revise it with modern politics. Even while staying true to the spirit of the story, Journey to Bethlehem tries to update it by shoehorning in feminist ideology. In this version, Mary (Fiona Palomo) goes from being a faithful servant of God to a feisty young woman demanding the type of opportunities typically reserved for men. Mary is initially resistant to the idea of an arranged marriage to Joseph (Milo Manheim) because of her aspirations to become a teacher, but he slowly wins her over with his charm.


        The film also attempts something few nativity narratives have before, showing the doubt of those around Mary and Joseph when she reveals her pregnancy. Predictably, Joseph’s family members initially assume some impropriety led to the conception, and it is only the faith of the young couple that convinces others. Unfortunately, the jealous King Herod (Antonio Banderas) also believes in the miracle and sends his forces to prevent the young child from being born and fulfilling the prophecy, resulting in the king’s downfall. But even this threat is not taken too seriously, as the tone of Journey to Bethlehem remains light throughout.


        Part of what keeps the film so lighthearted, in addition to the silly comedic relief in many of the supporting performances, is the musical numbers. With cast members who are better known for their musical careers, including Lecrae, Moriah, and a member of King and Country, there is a heavy emphasis on the musical interludes. In many ways, the film feels structured around these moments, and they may be the greatest asset for those who appreciate the style of music. But for those who are grown adults or don’t enjoy musicals, Journey to Bethlehem has very little to offer.


        The Blu-ray release comes with a digital copy of the film in addition to the high-definition disc. The film itself visually resembles a cheaply made TV-movie, so there isn’t much demanding a high-definition presentation. The Blu-ray disc does come with a handful of special features, including 3 deleted and extended scenes and a handful of promotional featurettes. There are five featurettes, though none of them are especially in-depth, mostly just capitalizing on the popularity of certain cast members with young audience members.


Entertainment Value: 6/10

Quality of Filmmaking: 4/10

Historical Significance:  3/10

Special Features: 5.5/10

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