THE 3 WISE MEN
MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5)
Martin Sheen as GASPAR
Lupillo Rivera as BATHASAR
Emilio Esteves as BELIAL
Marcos Witt as MELCHIOR
Kuno Becker as TOBIAS
Jaci Velasquez as SARAH
Directed by: Antonio Navarro
BY KEVIN CARR
When the holidays come around, there is a slate of holiday DVDs and television specials on the market. Inevitably, many of them are similar to each other. However, now and then you get some that are unique in themselves or at least different enough from the fray that it causes you to take notice.
Such is the case with “The 3 Wise Men,” or “Los Tres Reyes Magos” in the original Spanish. This Christmas story is told outside of the birth of Christ, focusing on the three wise men from the east that traveled to see the baby Jesus on Christmas day.
In some ways, this cartoon reminds me of the old “Little Drummer Boy” stop-motion animated show that is no longer aired because its portrayal of Arabs has been deemed politically incorrect. In this old classic, the story of Christ is told from the sidelines. Rather than rehashing the Christmas story which has been done to death, “The Little Drummer Boy” and “The 3 Wise Men” show things from a different angle.
In some ways, “The 3 Wise Men” tries too hard, making the wise men mystic wizards who use magic. The bad guy is Herod and his evil henchman Belial, who is presented as a full demon. Overall, the story offers a lot of adventure and magic, which should be appealing to younger viewers. Without directly talking about Christ, the filmmakers have been able to make the story a little more like a super hero cartoon and less like Bible school.
The story is told by an old man in New York, explaining the Christmas message to his grandson. The heroes are the three wise men, as well as a soldier and an ungodly sexy female freedom fighter. The charge is for the wise men to overcome their fears and avoid detection by Herod and Belial. It gets corny at parts, but it makes a nice holiday film.
Originally made for a Spanish audience, the DVD includes Spanish and English language tracks and features some well-known voices of Spanish media.
Overall, “The 3 Wise Men” is a solid tale that teaches some good lessons. And without the overbearing and overtold angle of the standard Christmas story, this film can be refreshing in the holiday season.
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Widescreen (1.78:1), enhanced for 16×9 televisions. Spanish language track. English subtitles for the hearing impaired.