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.
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.