How does the sequel to 2009's Brit cult festive hit fare this time around?
Those of us lucky enough to see Nativity! (4.5/5) when it first graced cinemas back in 2009 should be able to recall that it truly was a marvellous festive watch, packed with British charm and humour. Well, as with all good things in the world of entertainment nowadays, the original flick did enough to warrant a sequel. Here we are then, with Nativity 2: Danger In The Manger! in cinemas nationwide, but the question is, does the follow-up do quite enough to warrant its existence? You may be surprised to hear the answer to this line of contemplation.
Although much of the comedy continues to ensue through the classic improvisation techniques the cast use once again, Danger In The Manger! does still have a narrative focus in the form of the 'Song For Christmas' contest. This prestigious children's competition serves as a strong point of direction for the writers, allowing the characters portrayed by the likes of David Tennant (Doctor Who), Marc Wooton, Joanna Page (Gavin & Stacey), Ian McNeice (Doc Martin), Jessica Hynes (Spaced) and Jason Watkins (Being Human, Trollied) to at least know where the end-point lies. If most of those actor and show names from Britain's television industry aren't ringing many bells, then much of the appeal of the sequel will be lost for you as a viewer, yet I'm willing to bet you'll recognise at least a few familiar faces here within the 105 minute running time.
I'm glad to say that much of that aforementioned charm and humour does indeed remain here in the second act of the unprecedented series. However, those elements can only carry Nativity 2 so far, and it isn't long before it feels as if all the follow-up has to offer is rehashes of scenes from the original, parodies of its cast and songs and indeed of the Nativity story itself. For the most part, this doesn't get in the way of the fun, but the use of ad-lib is more notable here when the running time seems to be overly long compared to this film's predecessor. Kids will no doubt love gags such as 'Justin Beaver' and the dual roles from David Tennant here, yet things do seem to wane rather thin by the final scenes, such that you're wondering just when the ending will occur in much the same way as The Return Of The King. Now that is saying something, and it doesn't do much credit to the plot.
I shan't leave this review on a negative note, though. This is a Christmas film, after all, and as you would imagine its intentions of merry entertainment are wholehearted and for the most part successful. It is a shame that the powers that be couldn't leave the brilliant Nativity!'s legacy alone with the solitary brilliant film, but if you enjoyed the original, then this'll be well worth a rental when it hits DVD in Winter 2013. Nativity 2: Danger In The Manger isn't perfect, far from it, but I've seen far worse instalments of cinema this year, so it's still not bad by any means.