The movie is a good portrayal of the period. It avoided one of the classic Hollywood errors and had all the parts played by people who looked like they were Levantine. The only blonde I saw was a Roman legionary, which is perfectly plausible. Many scenes were set in the middle of daily life--stomping grapes, pitting olives, sowing grain--so it felt like you were watching real people, not a stage show.
I especially liked the portrayal of the three Magi. The "star" they followed was a planetary conjunction, which matches some of the theories I've read. The presenting of the gifts also included the symbolism of them. I was watching for that since celticdragonfly recently told me about it: gold for the king, frankincense for the priest, and myrrh for the sacrifice. The magi announced the purpose if each gift, with the third one being very uncomfortable at speaking of the sacrifice to the parents of the child. Joseph's expression slid from "whoa, food money" to "sacrifice? wtf?" as well--Joseph got most of the good bits.
A good start to the season. Watching it may become one of our family traditions. Though I think I'd rather watch it at home than in a theatre.