|3 Wise Men, The|
|Written by Mel Odom|
|Tuesday, 01 November 2005|
“The 3 Wise Men” is a Biblical story of the three wise men that bore gifts to the baby Jesus on the night of his birth. However, the story is definitely by way of “The Lord of the Rings”. Magic and dragons, shape-shifters and a demon exists in this tale that might surprise some parents hoping to rent or buy a DVD in time for Christmas.
Also interesting, the whole movie appears to be Hispanic in origin, the actors, the directors, and even the animation studios. Overall, the production value of the movie remains consistently high throughout the film. The colors are bright and vivid, the story pace snaps along at a trot when it’s not at a full gallop.
In the Hispanic culture, the Journey of the 3 Wise Men is celebrated every January 6, the twelfth day of Christmas, the day of epiphany. During the celebration the journey of the three kings is re-enacted and they are remembered.
Three quotes open the movie in Chapter 1, pertaining to the gifts the magi (the three wise men) brought to the infant Jesus. Gold symbolized courage. Frankincense symbolized humility. And myrrh symbolized heart. From there, the action takes place in the contemporary world, showing a young man stealing a star from the top of a Christmas tree. The cars shoot across the street, going from left to right and right to left through the surround sound system to announce how good the sound part of the movie is. The boy takes his stolen treasure to a shop owner, who isn’t impressed with his thieving skills and begins telling him the story of the 3 wise men. The boy responds that he’s not interested unless the story involves treasure, pretty girls, and bad guys who get what’s coming to them. The shop owner promises all of that. A wolf-howl crescendos through the subwoofer.
Chapter 2 shows the wolves that were sent out to find the treasures that are supposed to be delivered to the King of Kings. Their howls and the sounds of their scrabbling feet ricochet through the surround sound system, followed swiftly by the noise of drumming horses’ hooves. The viewer will notice at once that the Bible story, only loosely hinted at, takes on a decidedly fantastical nature when one of the wolves becomes a man dressed in wolf skin. The shape-shifter reports to a demonic looking magician in the employ of King Herod, who wants everyone to realize that he is the King of Kings. The three wise men are also introduced in this chapter, Gaspar the teacher, Melchior the explorer, and Balthazar the warrior. All are shown doing what they do best, and how they are called by the Star of Bethlehem to take the tests that will legitimize them as the Bearers of the Gifts of the Magi.
King Herod plots with Belial to use Tobias, the son of Jason, a local hero, to spy on the wise men as they begin their trek. Sarah, an ex-slave girl whose family was murdered by King Herod’s men at his orders, runs into a band of thieves that she mistakenly hopes to use to raise an army against the king. The thieves, a truly funny bunch, are already planning to sack the city and quickly take Sarah as hostage.
Chapter 4 opens up in the marketplace. Cackling chickens fill the surround sound system, making the viewer feel as though he or she is in the middle of the scene. The three wise men meet inauspiciously just as the thieves descend on the city with Sarah in tow. This sequence of events is great for the younger viewers, filled with sight gags and slapstick humor. The dumbest of the thieves rides a stick pony. One of the thieves is magicked into a Santa suit (which is totally anachronistic given the time, but since the release was scheduled for near-Christmas, is a timely one).
Throughout the movie, the animators use lots of bright, powerful colors. Chapter 6 really shows off the beauty of the film. And the twisted humor of the story is further revealed in the evil magician’s lair when a big frog eats a little frog, and he feeds his fish only to have each of them eat each other in turn, resulting in only one huge fish left in the tank in a few quick chomps. One of the more disturbing images for the very young viewers is when Belial pops out one of his eyeballs and magicks it into a necklace that Tobias has to wear so he can spy on the three wise men and Sarah as they continue following the Star.
The sound remains good all through the movie as well. The thuds on the door in Chapter 7 rattle the subwoofer, as does the later explosion of the windstorm out in the desert. Chapter 9 offers another visual that might be upsetting to younger viewers. Sarah and Tobias enter a cave filled with shackled and broken skeletons, and she explains that these were her people and she barely escaped meeting a similar fate at the hands of King Herod’s men.
“The 3 Wise Men” is a solidly told story that uses bits and pieces based on the Biblical story, but really goes out and does its own thing. The story is simple and solidly told with gorgeous colors and action throughout. It would be a good buy or rental for parents looking for a pleasant hour and a quarter for the kids to add to their DVD collection or spend an evening with, but there’s not much replay value. Parents might make a family night of it with this DVD, but the story is aimed primarily at the young generation growing up with Pokemon and Dragonball Z who might was some Christmas fare.