Left Behind portrays Christians as nutjobs

Left Behind portrays Christians as nutjobs

Nicolas Cage’s apocalyptic Left Behind movie opened in US  theaters at the weekend, leaving critics less than enraptured.

So here, in a nutshell, is the plot of the latest in a line of ghastly new faith-based movies: Cage plays one of many unfortunate souls stranded on an increasingly chaotic Earth after God calls all True Believers home to heaven.

The most important event in the history of mankind is happening right now. In the blink of an eye, the biblical Rapture strikes the world. Millions of people disappear without a trace.

All that remains are their clothes and belongings, and in an instant, terror and chaos spread around the world. The vanishings cause unmanned vehicles to crash and burn. Planes fall from the sky. Emergency forces everywhere are devastated. Gridlock, riots and looting overrun the cities. There is no one to help or provide answers. In a moment, the entire planet is plunged into darkness.

The Steele family is caught on the razor’s edge of that darkness. Airline pilot Ray Steele (Cage)  struggles to calm, and ultimately to save the lives of the passengers that remain on his flight, as the world below loses its ability to help his plane, and any other to safety.

According to this report, the early reviews are trickling in for Left Behind – and they are not good.

In fact, they are downright bad. Of the 30 reviews posted as of this morning [last Friday] on the movie-review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, only a single one was positive. That translates to a woeful three percent approval rating.

Things aren’t much better over at MetaCritic, where Left Behind has so far earned a score of 14/100 based on 19 reviews – and, again, only one positive one in the bunch. Read the reviews, and you’ll get such damning descriptions as “atrocious,” “moronic” and “fails miserably on every level.”

This isn’t the first time Left Behind has made it to the the big screen – but it might be the last. Based on the first book in the series by Jerry B Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, it was previously adapted for the big screen in 2001, in a film starring Kirk Cameron. That one was more well received than Armstrong’s, but only marginally, with a lowly 16 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Here are some reactions to this latest disastrous Christian incursion into the world of entertainment:

Jeanette Catsoulis, The New York Times:

Breathtakingly clunky …. Forced to wait at least half an hour for the skeletal plot to kick in, we have plenty of time to notice the awkward dialogue and slapdash logic.

Lindsey Bahr, Entertainment Weekly:

At best, Left Behind is shoddily made sensationalist propaganda – with atrocious acting – that barely registers as entertainment. At worst, it’s profoundly moronic.

Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter:

Awkwardly combining religious proselytizing with disaster-movie tropes, Left Behind, with its sub-par production values, howler-filled dialogue and terrible performances, fails miserably on every level.

I confess to having read only one of the reviews all the way through: Matthew Paul Turner’s delicious hatchet job on The Daily Beast:

During the first 32 minutes of Left Behind, the message is this: Christians are nutjobs. That’s the mantra we hear when we meet Rayford Steele. Steele is a husband, a father of two, and an airline pilot who’s having an affair with a flight attendant because his wife is cheating on him with – wait for it – Jesus.

Yes, Jesus. Apparently, after converting to evangelical Christianity, Irene Steele (Lea Thompson) turned into the kind of Bible thumper that would make Rick Santorum blush, and her constant attempts to get Rayford to trust in Jesus have put a strain on their relationship.

But Irene must be annoying because even her daughter, Chloe (Cassi Thomson), a sophomore in college, can’t stand to be around her.

Turner points out:

Though most Christians who adhere to Rapture theology believe that Jesus’ Rapture happens in a twinkling of an eye, Left Behind’s Rapture happens much more slowly, sometimes in slow motion.

I swear, Jesus came back for at least 15 minutes, rapturing to Heaven the world’s born again population (most of which were Americans living in the New York City region) and every child 12 and under. Jesus made a huge mess, too, leaving piles of lifeless articles of clothing everywhere.

He concludes:

Ultimately, just like all of those empty articles of clothing left behind by Jesus’ return, Left Behind is a lifeless film, void of anything remotely human, God-like, or authentic, just a terrible Christian movie starring Nicolas Cage.

But  the official Left Behind website has managed to unearth some positive reviews, mainly by Christian nutjobs, such as Pastor Matthew Hagee, of John Hagee Ministries

Left Behind will cause everyone who sees it to ask the all-important and eternal question, ‘Am I ready to go?’ Don’t miss this important opportunity, go see Left Behind!

And this from Ron Kitchell, Pastor, Morning Star Christian Chapel:

Excellent. A real eye opener to the nonbelievers.

Jackson Cuidon, writing for Christianity Today, identified a truly objectionable aspect Left Behind:


This film contains maybe the most offensive depiction of a Little Person [midget Martin Klebba, above] that I’ve ever seen in any form of media; he is angry, short-tempered, thieving, accusatory, and generally a bad person, and the film strongly implies all this is predominately due to his stature.

At the end of the film, he is punted down a slide like a football. I don’t need to defend any position that this film is as un-Christian as you can get, given its depiction of this character. It’s either a joke on the part of the filmmakers– in which case it’s not only horribly misguided, but actually deserving of an apology on their part … it is the most mean-spirited, insensitive, idiotic thing I’ve seen in my tenure reviewing for Christianity Today.

47 responses to “Left Behind portrays Christians as nutjobs”

  1. Canada Dave says:

    Why would a very good actor like Cage get involved with something such as this ?

  2. Dave Godfrey says:

    Canada Dave – Nic Cage is a likeable actor, but often his film choices are extremely dodgy. His CV is filled with more clunkers than hits, and this one sounds exceptionally bad.

  3. GIndy51 says:

    Canada Dave, money. Nic Cage needs the cash and he will take anything that is thrown at him.

  4. Angela_K says:

    “A real eye opener to the nonbelievers”

    Could well be for the non-believers who haven’t yet worked out that christians are indeed nutjobs.

  5. zombiehunter says:

    I watched one of the original left behind movies (on youtube) and it sucked major balls and if that’s getting “better” reviews than this one then I will definetly be avoiding this.

    Maybe the purpose of this film was to give Christians a showing up in the same way that Darren Aronofsky’s take on Noah was treated as a piece of mythology and not literal fact I don’t know either way I think I will watch something else instead.

  6. barriejohn says:

    Christian “endtimers” like the Hagees are wetting themselves over this film, which is like a Hollywood version of a Chick Tract. (Incidentally, Daddy’s church is called The Cornerstone Church.)

    Extracts from Wikipedia:

    (John) Hagee is the founder and National Chairman of the Christian-Zionist organization Christians United for Israel, incorporated on February 7, 2006.

    Hagee believes the Bible commands Christians to support the State of Israel and the Jewish people even though he has uttered remarks that some have interpreted as antisemitic.

    Because the land now known as Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank was ruled by the Ottoman Turks prior to World War I, then controlled by the British, and later partitioned under United Nations mandate, Hagee argues that the land does not belong to the Palestinian people, and that the name “Palestine” (deriving from that of the ancient Philistines) was imposed by the Roman Emperor Hadrian to punish the Jews for their revolt against the Roman Empire. Hagee has commented that there is no Palestinian language and no historic Palestinian nation.

    In his 2005 book Jerusalem Countdown: A Warning to the World, Hagee interprets the Bible to predict that Russia and the Islamic states will invade Israel and will be destroyed by God. This will cause the antichrist, the head of the European Union, to create a confrontation over Israel between China and the West. The book echoes predictions made in The Late, Great Planet Earth, the best-selling 1970 book co-authored by Hal Lindsey and Carole C. Carlson.

    Hagee claims that Adolf Hitler was born from a lineage of “accursed, genocidally murderous half-breed Jews.”

    “It was the disobedience and rebellion of the Jews, God’s chosen people, to their covenantal responsibility to serve only the one true God, Jehovah, that gave rise to the opposition and persecution that they experienced beginning in Canaan and continuing to this very day … Their own rebellion had birthed the seed of antisemitism that would arise and bring destruction to them for centuries to come … it rises from the judgment of God upon his rebellious chosen people.”

    Hagee blamed American economic problems on the fact that the Federal Reserve System is controlled by “a group of Class A stockholders, including the Rothschilds.” In the same series, Hagee further asserted that the Rothschilds, who are Jewish, were part of a wide-ranging conspiracy of “international power brokers based in Europe.”

    Much more here:

    See what we’re dealing with?

  7. barriejohn says:

    Angela: That’s exactly what I thought when I read that statement! I think that partly due to the publicity given to televangelists today, even outside of America, and the rantings of mad Muslims, nonbelievers DO have a much better idea of what nonsensical views believers in religion actually hold.

  8. barriejohn says:

    If you don’t know how Jack Chick treats the End Times prophecies, just have a look here (scroll down):

    I knew Christians who gave out these ridiculous booklets – as Bob Hutton still does in Canterbury!

  9. Rev. Timothy Lovejoy says:

    For your delectation:

  10. Paul Cook says:

    Hagee needs help for sure. On this basis (comment below) the so called land doesn’t belong to the jews either. It was part of the roman Empire. And the Roman Gods had precedence over it all. Not the hate filled yaeweh who was only one of many jew gods.

    “….the land does not belong to the Palestinian people, and that the name “Palestine” (deriving from that of the ancient Philistines) was imposed by the Roman Emperor Hadrian to punish the Jews for their revolt against the Roman Empire. “

  11. Broga says:

    Perhaps the film is intended to be a comedy and it has been misunderstood. Whatever, the intention it does seem to be funny.

  12. Barry Duke says:

    Angela, go to the this Left Behind FB fan page and you will see just how moronic Christians can be:

    Barbara Koger: This is real. When the Rapture takes place the non believers will believe then, but it will be too late. As for me I’m going up to meet Jesus in the air when he splits the Eastern Sky. Hope I’m still living when this happens. I’m looking for The Savior.

    Mischievous me has just posted a link to this Freethinker report on their page.

  13. Trevor Blake says:

    Just in time for Halloween.

  14. Barry Duke says:

    Well, Broga, according to the Christian Film Database this “masterpiece” has “moments of REAL laughter. Totally unexpected … Martin Klebba, who plays one of the airline passengers is HILARIOUS. He really brought some great moments to this delightful film. Not sure if he’ll sneak his way into any of the sequels but I sure hope he does.”

    So, maybe it really is a tongue-in-cheek piss-take.

  15. AgentCormac says:

    The only thing that gets left behind when these morons start blathering on about ‘raptures’ and ‘end times’ is reality.

  16. barriejohn says:

    In the Old Testament, the North signifies the place of judgment. I knew Christian teachers who pointed out that there were “fewer stars in the northern night sky” and that this was because “Jesus and his saints” would return to earth from this direction. Yes – “spiritual beings” had to have a space made for them in case they bumped into any stars on their way to earth!

    “O ye children of Benjamin, gather yourselves to flee out of the midst of Jerusalem, and blow the trumpet in Tekoa, and set up a sign of fire in Bethhaccerem: for evil appeareth out of the north, and great destruction.” (Jer.6:1 KJV)

  17. Norman Paterson says:

    In Ezekiel’s story, the whirlwind came from the north, IIRC.

  18. Missus_Gumby says:

    If this movie is only half as bad as Battlefield Earth , then I’m in for a treat. I haven’t had a really good laugh for ages.

  19. Newspaniard says:

    Couple of things:
    Has anyone who has commented so far actually seen this film or have they just read the reviews?
    Will it be one of those films that the critics and other self-opinionated persons, hate and actually become a cult movie which all the young (and young at heart) will thoroughly enjoy because it is so bad?

  20. Broga says:

    @Barry: I enjoyed the comments of the Rapture enthusiasts. I’m reminded of the Wee Frees story:

    An unbeliever dies and finds himself in a queue where the Angel Gabriel is telling people to go to the right or the left. Those to the right are Wee Frees and go to heaven. Those to the left to hell. The man is sent to the left.

    “But I didna’ ken,” he wails as he heads for hell.

    “Well, ye ken the noo,” says a Wee Free walking into the queue to heaven.

    I see LEFT BEHIND is the first of a series. I suppose there will be strong lobbying from the Hollywood Christians to get it a clutch of Oscars. “Isn’t life just dandy”, as the man said.

  21. Norman Paterson says:

    Newspaniard: I’ve not seen it. Saw “Langoliers” though.

    Have chosen not to watch “The passion of the Christ” because I think all that blood would upset me for no good purpose.

    There are so many films I’d like to watch, so many books I’d like to read, and only so much time left. Gotta prioritise.

  22. Barry Duke says:

    Breaking news: The Jehovah’s Witlesses have just launched J W Broadcasting. Learn in the introduction by a singularly creepy presenter of how Jehovah’s guiding hand brought this venture into being in a miraculously short space of time.

  23. Angela_K says:

    Barry, I’ve just looked at the FB page link you gave above. The comments are both hilarious and disturbing – and these people are allowed to vote and breed!

  24. barriejohn says:

    Oh, Noes: there are doubts as to whether Nicolas Cage is a Real Born Again Christian!!

    The question about Cage being a “believer” came just a week after another apparent fan of the upcoming movie claimed on the social network that the Hollywood star was a Scientologist and the film would be “a big deception.”

    Also, just suppose the Rapture takes place before Christians are able to view this wonderful film?

    “If we get raptured before this is released, well, I’d be ecstatic, but I’d be really upset for not getting to see this movie!!!!!!!!” wrote one excited fan.

  25. Matt Westwood says:

    What, you mean it’s even worse than the remake of The Wicker Man?

  26. Barry Duke says:

    Speaking of remakes, brace yourselves for Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings, due for release in December. This report says 68 percent of Murcan Christians will not watch it if it is not seen as biblically accurate”.

  27. AgentCormac says:

    “If we get raptured before this is released, well, I’d be ecstatic, but I’d be really upset for not getting to see this movie!!!!!!!!” wrote one excited fan.

    For 2000 years people have believed this whole second coming baloney is about to happen any minute now. Yet somehow it’s actually going to happen today – in less time than it takes to get to a cinema. Bloody idiots. And they’ve turned the word rapture into a verb! FFS.

  28. Broga says:

    @Barry: Loved the JW clip. Jehovah himself guided this work so that it took days instead of months to produce the set. Why did it take any time at all? All the featured players were young, active and purposefully energetic. Different to the sad bedraggled couples that arrive at my door hauling a child with them.

    That creepy presenter didn’t walk. He oozed. Could be another programme that Wayne Rooney might enjoy as he is into watching mind numbing religious TV.

  29. barriejohn says:

    Broga: Please don’t mock our Christian footballers!

    “I can do all things trough Christ who strengthens me” – hahahahaha.

  30. barriejohn says:

    Barry: Why do they remake ANY films?

    The Ladykillers

    War of the Worlds

    Village of the Damned

    Invasion of the Bodysnatchers


    Need I go on?

  31. tonye says:

    In my humble opinion, christian movies, (like christian rock), are always pale imitations of the real thing.

    For example (i may have posted this before) here is proper rock (AC/DC) v christian rock (Sonseed).

    To steal from Highlander – There can only be one………..

  32. Adrian says:

    These Rapturites can’t spell either. They spelt “Execrable” as “Excellent”.

  33. Barry Duke says:

    Apparently atheist parents are in danger of losing their kids come Rapture Day: “Regarding the unbeliever’s children, Bible teachers are very divided on this subject because the Bible is not specific in this regard.

    “There are some who believe that the children of unbelievers will be raptured. Their position is defended by the fact that if the children were to be left behind, they would receive the mark of the beast at their parents’ urging, thereby sealing their doom.”


  34. barriejohn says:

    This really is something else (apologies to those who have already seen it):

    … babies and children [will] have vanished… you may also find that unborn children have disappeared from their mother’s womb. I can only imagine the pain and the heartache of a world without children…

    Comment: I’ve read that in the Left Behind series, what happens is that fetuses and such that are vacuumed up in the rapture become fully grown adults in heaven. They never have a childhood at all, they just appear as fully grown adults with no memories. And, one assumes, no personalities, since without the life to shape them they’re just a blank slate.

    What I was saying here recently. Heaven, if it existed, would be a VERY different place to that imagined by believers.

  35. Norman Paterson says:

    I had a rupture once. Ask me about it.

  36. Matt Westwood says:

    “I can only imagine the pain and the heartache of a world without children…”

    I’m looking forward to being able to sleep in at the weekend without a great crowd of screaming children outside on the green. And let me tell you, little girls have *very* shrill screams.

  37. Paul Cook says:

    The sound of children – no matter what noises * they make, make us human.
    (*at play)

  38. Maggie says:

    Don’t Christians worry about meeting Hesus stark naked?

  39. barriejohn says:

    Maggie: Never fear – God provides all necessary clothing!

  40. barriejohn says:

    Some of these commenters appear to be mentally ill. Where do they get their “information”?

    #When our souls leave our bodies, in the 3rd dimension and our souls go to the 4th dimension the frequency is higher. Our ‘bodies’ seem like floating, moving, see through ghost like images. Our bodies are not as basic as they are now.

    #No my friend, they wear underpants packed with explosives just in case somebody gets to heaven that shouldn’t be there, so they can just sidle up to them, pull the ripcord and BANG!!!

    Not much different to down here, in fact.

    I prefer THAT scenario!

    (From Yahoo Answers, but the link was too long.)

  41. Brian Jordan says:

    Just for the record folks, today the Rapture Meter stands at 184, only 4 points below last year’s all-time high.
    There’s an alternative meter which is available for embedding on web sites, should you feel the need Barry. The rap-con meter (their term, not mine!) which currently shows 1 = Imminent.

  42. Barry Duke says:

    Thank you for that, Brian Jordan. But until the science being employed to gauge the imminent coming of Rapture is credibly explained, I’ll hold off putting the Rap-Con Meter on the Freethinker site.

  43. Brian Jordan says:

    Well, since no religion has ever credibly explained anything, I won’t hold my breath!

  44. barriejohn says:

    Brian Jordan: Wise decision. The “Return of The Lord Jesus Christ” was “imminent” way back in the 1950s when I became a Born Again Christian ™!

  45. Linda Davis says:

    Actually the belief in a Rapture of believers is not a 2000 year old idea but was started by a number of ultraconservative Christians in the late 1800s. Before that, there was a general belief that Jesus would return to set up a Kindgom on earth. The Jews similarly believe that a Messiah (not Jesus) would come to establish a Kingdom. There are several good books debunking the Rapture by Christian theologians. While this still may be objectionable by those holding no religious belief, it is nevertheless a result of more critical thinking regarding what the Bible says.

    i hold to some Christian beliefs (because that is what I was taught and have experienced some benefit from) but have moved away from some of these ridiculous prognostications and other judgmental positions. I have alwasy thought the Left Behind books were a travesty and peddled hatred and chaos. Pure fantasy.

  46. A Confused Atheist says:

    But they are [nutjobs]?…

  47. Stuart W says:

    Am I the only one who instantly thought of the Simpsons episode ‘Homer and Ned’s Hail Mary Pass’ in which Flanders starts producing faith-based films including one called (deep voice) Left Below? The premise is literally identical to the description above of people suddenly vanishing save for their clothes, having been called to Heaven during the Rapture (“Oh WHY did I CHOOSE to be GAY!?!” squeaks one guy in despair).
    Memo to Hollywood – this was meant to be funny not a serious template.