Dr. Donna Copeland’s
It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, with 2014 being the resurgence year of the Christian film, that Left Behind (the 2000 film starring Kirk Cameron) is being redone. So, with a larger budget and Oscar winner Nicholas Cage as the pilot who pretends to fly an airplane and really does nothing throughout the film, this is supposed to be a better version. It’s not that the Jenkins/LeHaye book in which it’s based on is bad; it’s more to the fact that it’s nearly an impossible film to make unless you are going to go World War Z or Contagion in scope. In the book, airlines are falling out of the sky while in the movie we see a small propeller plane crash, land, and scoot in a mall parking lot. It’s the scope that kills the larger idea here.
Daughter Chloe (Cassi Thomson) and her mother Irene (Lea Thompson) have never agreed on their varying beliefs. Irene has tried to speak to her family, including husband Rayford about the signs of the rapture in the Bible, but they think she is crazy. While Chloe is home visiting for her father's birthday, her mother and little brother vanish. On a routine flight from JFK to London, half the passengers, including the co-pilot, vanish. It’s a worldwide event with chaos on the ground and in the air that has Rayford in emergency protocol trying to calm the frightened passengers and somehow land the plane which has partially collided with another.
Perhaps people of today are more clueless than I realize, but even non-believers or followers I think would pretty quickly pick up on what had happened in the way this film explains it: children and believers vanishing out of their clothes worldwide. Yet in the film we get half way into the movie before anyone even suggests the rapture. Cage continues his desperate course of starring in any film he is offered and brings nothing essential to this role of a captain who literally sits at the flight deck for the entire film and tries to keep passengers calm. The real star of the film, Thomson, is right out of a Disney movie with her smiling, caked on makeup and horrendous acting skills.
“If she is going to run off with another man, why not Jesus,” Rayford says to his daughter about his wife. The musical score that constantly plays behind every conversation prompts you to look for Angelia Lansbury’s appearance at every turn. While I understand the film is a propaganda tool created for a specific audience, the fact is the reality that is presented here (before the rapture) doesn’t look anything like modern times. Even the sinners don’t curse or do anything bad. Scenes will stop with “I know where she is…” and cut to a different location in a desperate attempt to create suspense where there isn’t any. Left Behind is the type of religious film that ruins it for good films like Noah or Heaven is Real that step out of the box and manage to have a good story combined with a positive message.
Final Thought – No better than the original.
By: Dustin Chase
Those who have wondered just what the Rapture will be like, the producers of Left Behind will give you some idea. For those of us who are not believers, it is a tension-filled drama with all kinds of crises happening all over the planet. It provides an uncomfortable reminder of the different ways human beings react in emergencies, some becoming overly suspicious and accusatory, some hysterical, some prone to self-blame, some remaining calm and focused, and a few stand out as heroes. The film provides the opportunity for the three main characters to be heroic.
Nicholas Cage as airplane pilot Steele maneuvers the plane through more than one close call; daughter Chloe (Cassi Thomson) tears around the city trying to locate family members and contact her father; and investigative reporter Buck Williams (Chad Michael Murray), has had an instant crush on Chloe since meeting her in the airport and is now a passenger on Steele’s plane. Williams ends up calming passengers and helping the pilot after the co-pilot has disappeared.
Irene Steele (Lea Thompson), Steele’s wife, has been trying to warn him and Chloe about the Rapture, which fundamentalist Christians believe will occur suddenly when true believers in the doctrine will be taken up to heaven and everyone else will be left behind. What will follow is years of darkness and calamitous events. Steele and Chloe think she is rather delusional, and regard her with impatience, going on about their lives until…
Most interesting to me about the film are the detailed descriptions we get of the passengers on the plane and their reactions to the crises. Those are well fleshed out, and the actors capture the essence of their characters very well. But mostly, the filmmakers keep the focus on the three heroes, almost as if that were the primary aim of the picture. Perhaps their interest is truly of conveying a religious idea, and they felt they needed to jazz it up with heroes in order to attract an audience.
A very bothersome aspect of the film for me is the constant cuts between the action on the ground and in the plane. This goes on constantly; for instance, Chloe will open a door and what we see is the cockpit where Steele is worriedly piloting the plane. Another minus to the film is the absurdity of Chloe’s heroics at the very end. Too unbelievable, just like the Rapture.
A film for those anticipating the Rapture.
By Donna R. Copeland