Thursday, December 4, 2014

Left Behind

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Well, it's obvious this series will never be good but redoing it without Kirk Cameron is a good first step.

Left Behind – 0 out of 5

I don’t know what it is but I love watching Christian films.  It’s not because of some deep-seeded faith I have in God, it’s not that at all (I’m an atheist).  Rather, the films are so preachy, so delusional, and are made by people who have no clue on how actual, real people behave that it makes watching a film that is about a guy gaining spider-based superpowers from a spider bite feel grounded and realistic.  Christian friends of mine are open with me that they find Christian films to be ridiculous and accidental comedies.  It’s hard to not laugh at them because so often they are filled with such bad morals and messages that they become ridiculous because the creators are operating blind and fail to notice these things because they just want to say, “Guys, God is totes awesome and if you don’t see that it’s because there is something missing in your life and His name is God.”  Never mind the fact that these movies might be arguing that letting someone die is better than calling 9-1-1 because he accepted Christ before he died or they might be showing you that God won’t rapture an elderly lady that has dementia (that was giving to her by Him) because she has an illness that won’t let her remember who her husband is let alone remember what the lower case tee dangling from her neck means.  It’s situations like this is why I will suffer through something like Left Behind.
Was I not suppose to laugh at the girl who is hugging her brother as he
got raptured?

The hardest part of the film to suspend disbelief over
wasn't God or The Rapture but the idea of Cage flying
a plane that isn't filled with convicts.
Chloe Steele (Cassi Thomson) has come home to visit her father, the pilot laughably named Captain Rayford Steele (Nicolas “Not the Bees” Cage), for his birthday but is informed by her mother (Lea Thompson) that he has a flight he needs to take to London.  She’s able to meet briefly with her father in the airport and quickly suspects that her dad might be being unfaithful (yep, that’s a pun) to his wife.  Captain Steele does little to comfort his daughter before he’s asking the passengers to put on their seatbelts and put their tray tables in their upright position; however, in the air, The Rapture hits and all the Godly folks who are all about Christ’s love being all up inside them are snatched away to heaven and all that’s left is their clothes.  Passengers on the plane start to freak the fuck out, Chloe loses her shit because her little brother disappeared in her arms and her mom vanished right out of the shower (washing all her sinful bits, no doubt), and those left behind (oh!  That’s how they get the title!) have snapped and start looting.  Now, Captain Steele must work with an investigative reporter named Buck Williams (Chad Michael Murray) to figure out what happened and how to land the God damned plane.
White people are looting?  According to several Facebook friends I deleted,
only black people do that.

I was all about seeing this movie because it looked cheesy as shit.  I never bothered to watch the original film or read the books it’s based of (or play the insane game that was developed after) because…well…because it’s looney bin crazy.  Plus, I can’t in good conscience give any of my money to that nutbar Kirk Cameron or to anything he's associated with—hell, I can’t even bring myself to illegally download anything with him in it because I’d rather pretend he doesn’t exist than listen to his insane rants (but, I confess, I kinda wanna watch his shitstorm that is all about the pretend War on Christmas).  However, when I saw that Nicolas Cage stepped in and proved to be so desperate for money that he is taking food right out of Cameron’s mouth and is preparing to bring his unique form of insane overacting to the table, I was more than ready to jump onboard THAT bandwagon…and I wasn’t disappointed.
Lady, I ask this politely...what the fuck is your lower hand doing to that
stuff animal?

Left Behind is, in a word, hysterical!  It’s just like all other Christian films and is preachy and terribly acted.  Not to mention, the film has the usual poorly thought out morals and messages that can quickly turn against a Christian film and make them look like the rants of a crazy person and end up working against the religion it is trying to lift up.  In this case, the film shows us The Rapture and we see that only those of other religions, the wicked and sinful, and those who love Christ but don’t give their heart completely to Him are denied access to heaven and have the privilege of enjoying the Hell on Earth that is to come.   Now, to the faithful that made this film, it makes them and their ilk look like great people—fuck, they are so good that God teleported their naked selves to the other dimension in the sky.  However, when you look deeper (and not even that deep), this scenario kinda makes God look like a dick.
God really interrupted a breakdance battle to bring about The Rapture?
There are dick moves and then there are serious dick moves.

Of those who are denied access to heaven, you have those from other faiths, they are portrayed subtly as those who basically bet on the wrong horse—I will say, however, unlike films like God’s Not Dead and others, alternate faiths weren’t being bashed…even though they include a Muslim and have the obligatory “Is he a terrorist?” moment.  Then you have the sinful people and this film was NOT subtle about showing off each character’s sins that kept them from getting into paradise.  In fact, it was sorta strange that all these characters are so readily willing to show off their sins to literally anyone who is looking or asking—like I said before, Christian films don’t really understand how people interact with each other.  Finally, you have those that believe but just not deep enough—which is really only covered with a single scene with a priest who admits he stopped believing.  However, there was one group this movie has constantly playing in the background that made the film’s message look bad to me.
"What do we have in the cargo bay...a shark or something?"

In a very indirect way, the film vilified innocent people—with the major exception of babies and children.  God made sure to Rapture them like nobody’s business.  However, the film has a lot of really good people that are ignored by the Lord because clearly God in this film is a high school-er playing the popular game.  For example, I talked about the woman with dementia that is on Captain Steele’s plane.  The lady has no idea where she is and is a victim of a breakdown of her mind—a breakdown, mind you, that God gave her (it was in His plan, after all).  Now, when the Rapture hits, this women is left to hang out by herself when the world turns to shit.  It’s never made clear if she was a believer but, considering her husband was Raptured, there’s a good chance that she was probably a church going, God-fearing woman.  Sadly, her mind can barely remember where she lives but the loving God in Left Behind decides to say, “Fuck that woman, she can’t remember that I am love, so she stays.”  Seems like a dick move on God’s part.
"Jesus?  Is the Mexican fella down the street?"

Then there’s the doctors, police officers, and EMT’s working tirelessly to save people who were in accidents or harmed during the looting that all the heathens will seemingly do once a good chunk of the world’s population mysteriously disappears—because this makes sense in the eyes of the people who come up with this bullshit.  These emergency service individuals aren’t asking, “What the hell happened?” they are asking, “How can I help?”  None of these individuals are focused on but you see them in the background helping the frightened, stopping any law breakers and, most importantly, healing the injured.  Now, are we supposed to assume that these selfless people are heathens, sinners, and terrible people that didn’t deserve God’s saving?  Fuck, at least in This Is the End God is portrayed as a loving person who will save those who’ve done good and selfless acts.  In Left Behind, it seems like he’s just being a dick and really only cares if you worship him to the point your life is literally empty without mentioning his name every three seconds.  From the perspective of an atheist, this is a little fucked up.  A vulgar comedy shows The Rapture happen with a loving benevolent God while a film based on a hit Christian novel series portrays God as a sort of insecure asshole who really doesn’t give a fuck how many good things you do.
Look at those pricks...helping people while the population is freaking the
fuck out.

Messages and morals aside—let’s be honest, if you are a believer you are going to come away with a different perspective and see how awesome it is to believe—nothing about this film is really well done…despite how the author of the books claims this will be one of the greatest films ever made.  Left Behind is a thriller with no thrills that just barely chugs along at a methodical pace.  It wants you to think that the flight that Cage is piloting is in peril but the film seems to forget you need to actually make it feel like they are in peril.  The music, the acting, the editing, nothing going on here makes the viewer feel like the tension is being ramped up or that any character’s life is truly in danger.  Instead, you get a sluggish, boring approach towards the routine crash, but kinda controlled and totally survivable, landing.
Yeah!  That's the same look I had on my face when I saw how they handled
thrills and tension in this movie.

In a Christian film, the acting is usually really bad (due to the director getting people from his church who’ve never acted in their lives) or people acting the fuck out of their role because they think this is either their big break or God will love them more for overacting in a church film.  Left Behind is lucky enough to have both of these a-plenty!  Whether it be Lea Thompson (in her short appearance) looking like she is ready to be Raptured the moment the director yells “cut,” or Chad Michael Murray being nearly completely forgettable in his role that Kirk Cameron once called home. Of course, if it wasn’t for his poorly trimmed beard, I never would have noticed Murray or his character at all. He was just that forgettable.
Did he sneeze while he was trimming his beard?

Then there’s also the inclusion of Jordin Sparks for some reason and she proves that going from being a part of a nationally televised karaoke competition to acting was not a seamless transition.  We also have the absolute joy of watching Cassi Thomson cry constantly in the film…but forget the actual tears part.  Actually, that is a common occurrence in the film.  It’s quite amusing because characters (whether it be big or small) keep crying but there is rarely a tear seen.

He's crying because he just watched the first Ghost Rider film.

However, the highlight of the film has to go to Nicolas Cage.  I’ve never made it a secret that I adore Nic Cage.  We all know he’s an over-actor but his overacting looks like a fucking art form.  We also know that he is really hard up for money and he took his one-time drive to expand and experiment with his acting career by taking any script that came his way and made it his way to try and pay off his debts by taking every script that came his way.  This time he’s taking money from Kirk Cameron’s pocket…but that’s okay, Cameron will have no problem with that because he’ll make sure he stays in the spotlight by saying something ignorant or making another homoerotic banana video with his God-buddy that has the mustache.  Anyway, Cage is actually quite special in this film and it has little to do with his ridiculous character name.  Cage spends most of this movie looking like he really did do this film for the cash but, in the final moments, we see the usual and needlessly intense Cage starting to peak through.  He never reaches the insane levels that I know and love from him and, in the final seconds of the film, he’s actually giving a really terrific, subdued performance but the fact he will go from not giving a single fuck to kinda/sorta giving a couple fucks is a little fun all by itself.
See, this is why we can't let Christians become pilots.
Then there’s all the other problems this film has.  Things like characters whose only defining characteristics are whether or not they have undying faith in a Sky Wizard and, when they don’t, what sin is happening in their lives that keeps them from loving said wizard.  There’s no depth to Captain Steele beyond the fact he is a cheating husband—who hasn’t cheating physically yet because this film doesn’t want you to think about sex…or the potential for it.  Chloe is just a girl who doesn’t want to talk about God but her mother never wants to stop talking about Him. 
"...but God is sure great isn't He?"

"Lady, do you want your stuff crust pizza or what?  We finished cooking it two hours ago."

I'm sure both of them will be handled with respect
and care...
And then there is the gambler character, which is portrayed by a little person who was in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and a Muslim.  These two are supposedly the comic relief of the film but they are never funny.  Additionally, it obvious the filmmakers think they are being progressive by getting the usual “The Muslim is a terrorist” accusation out of the way early and showing that he is actually a caring person that wants to make sure everyone is okay during this troubling time…and then they show him later kicking the little person down the escape ramp for a cheap joke that isn’t really funny at all.
Someone who worked on this film actually thought this would be funny.

Left Behind is, without a doubt, a piece of shit, to put it bluntly.  The story is simplistic and intelligence-insulting, the acting is horrendous, and the film falsely believes it is showing off a heroic message but really is just a jerk-off tale about what an obnoxious asshole this God character can be and how dumb most people are that don’t worship or believe in him (but, like I said, this part is defined entirely by the viewer's perspective and beliefs).  The only thing this film has working in its favor, for me, is the fact it is really easy to laugh at and tease.  I won’t lie, the film is hard to watch because it is boring as fuck but when you riff the film, the characters, and the thrill-less action that plays out before you, it actually makes the film fun to sit through.  However, without that, the film was just a waste of time and energy for me.

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