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Tim Reckart
Steven Yeun, Gina Rodriguez, Zachary Levi
Writing Credits:
Carlos Cotkin

A small but brave donkey and his animal friends become the unsung heroes of the first Christmas.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$9,812,674 on 2837 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Audio Descriptive Service
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

86 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 2/20/2018

• Audio Commentary with Director Tim Reckart and Executive Producer DeVon Franklin
• Sing-Along
• “Faith All Year Round” Featurette
• “An All Star Cast” Featurette
• “Creating the World of 9 Months BC” Featurette
• Dance Along
• Animated Nativity
• Lyric Videos
• Arts & Crafts
• Trailer
• Previews
• DVD Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


The Star [Blu-Ray] (2017)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 22, 2018)

For an animated take on the birth of Christ, we find 2017’s The Star. Bo the donkey (voiced by Steven Yeun) leads a fairly monotonous life at a mill, and he longs for something more adventurous.

Bo eventually escapes and heads on an improbable journey that also involves Ruth the sheep (Aidy Bryant) and Dave the dove (Keegan-Michael Key). Along with others, these critters wind their way toward Bethlehem and “the first Christmas”.

With a prime mid-November release date, one might think a tale such as Star would do well at the box office. One would think incorrectly, as it sputtered to an iffy $40 million in the US.

Perhaps audiences thought Star looked a little cheap compared to big-budget studio fare – and it was cheap, as the film cost a mere $20 million, peanuts for an animated movie. Honestly, the superficial impression I get from Star is that it started out as direct-to-video fare that received a theatrical run.

That stems solely from the less-than-Pixar visuals, but this theory becomes less likely given the talent involved, as Star involves a surprisingly noteworthy number of participants – albeit in small roles. The cast involves stars like Oprah Winfrey, Christopher Plummer, Kelly Clarkson, Ving Rhames and others as they take on supporting parts. Not that the leads are unknowns, of course, but Yeun, Key, Bryant, Gina Rodriquez and Zachary Levi can’t be considered household names.

All involved offer good performances, though possibly not in the tone one might expect from a story about the birth of Christ. Even when told from the POV of barnyard animals, one anticipates a certain level of seriousness and dignity, neither of which dominates Star.

On the surface, I should like this more irreverent attitude, as it makes Star something different than the standard Biblical tale – and at times, the movie generates a decent level of humor. Again, the actors assist, as they take some fairly mediocre material and deliver mild amusement.

That said, a lifetime of conditioning to see the birth of Christ as a solemn event makes it tough to take it as a wacky affair, and a clear disconnect exists. A quirky, neurotic Joseph? A nerdy, insecure Mary? More comic relief than you can shake a stick at?

All of that comes together in an unstable manner for the tale on display. While I’m happy Star avoids too much literal holier-than-thou material, the humorous vibe doesn’t really work.

This seems especially true because Star comes with a narrative that winds up as a mess. The movie flits from one aspect of the story to another without real clarity, and those elements mean it seems more like a jumble of comedic beats than a concise story.

Despite these flaws – and mediocre computer-generated animation – I admit The Star works better than I thought it would, largely because its cast manages some funny moments. Still, the project seems more like a self-conscious attempt to be “different” than an organic, coherent Bible tale.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

The Star appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The image looked solid.

Sharpness worked well, as the movie boasted consistently detailed elements. No softness emerged in this tight, accurate presentation.

I saw no shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes remained absent. The flick also lacked any print flaws.

Much of the film opted for a mix of teal and orange, with some emphasis on a sandy amber related to the setting. The movie showed these colors in a vivid manner.

Blacks seemed dark and deep, while shadows appeared smooth and clear. Everything about the transfer pleased.

Though not bad, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack seemed less impressive. This was because the soundfield often lacked much ambition, though it did kick to life at times.

Some “action” scenes used the channels well, and a few other broader sequences boasted pretty useful material. Music also spread across the speakers in a vivid manner. These elements led to a sporadically involving soundscape.

Audio quality seemed good. Speech was distinctive and natural, without edginess or other issues.

Music was perky and full, while effects appeared accurate and packed a nice punch. The erratic nature of the soundfield left this as a “B” mix.

When we move to the set’s extras, we launch with an audio commentary from director Tim Reckart and executive producer DeVon Franklin. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the project’s origins and path to the screen, story/characters, cast and performances, music, visual design and animation, and connected areas.

At the start, the commentary shows promise, as Reckart and Franklin discuss the movie’s long road to theaters. After that, occasional nuggets of info emerge, but a lot of the content simply praises the movie. All that happy talk makes this an erratic chat.

By the way, Reckart and Franklin claim that Star gives us the first-ever “animal’s-eye view” of the birth of Christ. Nope – heck, it’s not even the first to star a donkey, as 1977’s Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey offers a very similar story.

Executive producer DeVon Franklin shows up again in the nine-minute, 52-second Faith All Year Round. Franklin leads a panel of kids as they discuss the movie and ways to maintain the Christmas spirit 365 days a year. (Or 366, in leap year.)

Basically this means Franklin preaches to the youngsters. View it as a lecture with a strong religious message involved.

Two more featurettes ensue, and An All Star Cast runs 13 minutes, two seconds. It provides comments from Franklin, Reckart, and actors Gina Rodriguez, Zachary Levi, Steven Yeun, Kristin Chenoweth, Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Patricia Heaton, and Kelly Clarkson.

As expected, the show covers the cast, their characters and their performances. Also as expected, the featurette offers a lot of fluffy content without much substance.

Creating the World of 9 Months BC takes up two minutes, 10 seconds and features Reckart and Franklin. We get notes about research and attempts to recreate the movie’s setting. It’s short but it gives us a few useful insights.

With Star-Aoke Sing Along, we get two options. The first brings a version of “There’s No Me Without You” sung by “Bo and friends”, while the second just shows lyrics sans vocals. Neither does anything for me, but maybe someone will enjoy these options.

In the same vein, we find a Dance Along for “Life Is Good”. This shows two absurdly perky kids as they tappa-tappa-tappa to the song, and we’re supposed to boogie with them. Yeah, that’s not gonna happen.

Next we get Aninated Nativity, a screen-saver of sorts. It plays the same 65-second clip scene over and over as Christmas songs run on top of it. I don’t know what real purpose it serves, but it’s harmless.

More music appears via five Lyric Videos. These offer various movie songs accompanied by movie scenes and on-screen text. Once more, I figure someone might dig this stuff – but that person isn’t me.

Three elements pop up under Arts & Crafts, all of which teach us how to create various objects. These cover “Twinkling Star Ornaments”, “Sweet and Sparkly Stars” and “Star Mason Jar Votives”. Still not really working for me, but these could be fun for others.

The disc opens with ads for Peter Rabbit, Hotel Transylvania 3, All Saints, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Angry Birds Blue, The Swan Princess: A Royal MyZtery and The Emoji Movie. No trailer for The Star appears here.

A second disc provides a DVD copy of The Star. It includes the same extras as the Blu-ray.

Thanks to a surprisingly strong cast, The Star offers decent amusement, and at times, its irreverent tones succeeds. However, its comedic elements often feel forced, and a lack of narrative clarity becomes an issue. The Blu-ray delivers very good picture as well as mostly engaging audio and a decent collection of supplements. The Star turns into fitful entertainment.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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