Left Behind - A disaster of a film - 1.50 stars

Left Behind has become a cottage industry with Christian publishing. Will the 1995 novel translate into a new movie series? 

Walking into the cinema...
I have spoken in previous reviews that the only way to earn the right to speak about a film is if they have actually seen it. Begrudgingly, I am going to see Left Behind, because I want to be able to give an honest and knowledgeable answer to the question, "What did you think of the Left Behind movie ?" Seems a heavy price to pay for accountability, but to the cinema I went.  

Cinematic value: 1 star      
Theological value: 2 stars      
Overall rating: 1.50
    A stereotypical, dysfunctional family cinema. That is the best way to describe the Steeles of the Left Behind film. Chloe (is the university student with a chip on her shoulder, Ray () is the father who is an international pilot who is considering an affair with a stewardess and Irene () is the mother who has become a Christian in the last year. In the eyes of Chloe and Ray, Irene's religious fervour is the cause of family's problems. She talks about her new found faith in Jesus and continually challenges her family to believe in God. Irene's primary reason for earnestly communicating this message is based in her biblical view of the end times, specifically of the rapture. The belief that Christians will vanish from the earth prior to a global tribulation. 'Are you ready?' is the theme of the Irene's questions and of the film. During a trip home to see the family, Chloe is able to see her father as he is about to leave for London and in an interesting twist of events, meets the world-famous, investigative journalist, Buck Williams (). Buck and Ray are on the same fated flight heading to London.  After seeing her father at the airport and later having an argument with her mother, Chloe is out with her brother at the local shopping centre. In the blink of an eye, the rapture occurs. Ray and Buck are in the air to London, Chloe is left alone to defend herself in New York and the surreal drama begins to unfold. The remainder of the film is played out as the characters manage life through the ensuing chaos and their investigation into what has happened. The harsh realities of life set in as they see how the world has changed in an instant and they need to determine how they will get on with the next few hours, much less the rest of their lives after being left behind. 
     Over the last two decades, this book series has become a beloved work of Christian fiction to many around the world and has become a force within Christian publishing. The series and the previous films have made household names of writers, Jerry B. Jenkins and Timothy LaHaye. Due to the mainstream acceptance of these books, a multitude of discussions about the end times within Christian and non-Christian circles have continued. Throughout the ages, the end times have been the focus of many great theological minds and educational institutions. Over the past century, they have also had to consider the rapture as part of that study. For those who enjoy engaging in these theological discussions, it would be worth taking the time to read through the materials put out by these people and organisations. For the sake of our readers, this review will be focused on the film, not the book series or the end times debate. 
       is a stunt-coordinator turned director who gets the daunting task of bringing the first book from the Left Behind series to cinemas. To his credit, he only takes on the first few chapters of the original book. Which leaves him with the action side of the rapture, but not the introduction of the new world order. Armstrong only has to manage a handful of characters and a six hour window of time. Also, the signing of Nicolas Cage and Chad Murray by the production team gives this new version of Left Behind some Hollywood credibility. As a performance, Cage does manage to work with what he is given with the limiting script, but that is where the accolades end. The production budget must have been paid to Cage. The remainder of the production was difficult to endure. The script, the effects and the music are poorly initiated. Even within the realm of Christian cinema, this film did not measure up to the the expectation that was conveyed by bringing Cage on board. Based on the multitude of examples of bad production value it would not be gracious and would show poor form even as a reviewer to lambaste this film. It was a struggle to find any redeeming values in this film. At times the audience was laughing because of the awkward nature of the production and not due to any humorous moments. It is best to say that the term 'disaster film' has multi-layered meaning with Left Behind. Two striking thing about the film were the negative portrayal of Christians and the fact that Jesus' name was not mentioned throughout the script. The film distracted from the intentional message of the Bible. This film does not warrant any recommendations and should be avoided. 
      It would be a surprise if anyone outside of the Christian community would even consider going to this film. But it is worth noting that this is a fictional portrayal of events many hold to within Christianity. If someone merely sees the posters or the shorts, they may have questions about the end times, The book of Revelation or God. If that is the case, the opportunity to have a discussion about salvation through Jesus should be the centrepiece of the conversation. If you are a Christian reading this review, the challenge is for you to evaluate what you believe. Have you taken time to consider what you know about the the biblical view of the end times and how would you have a conversation with someone? Ensure that the conversation is not judgemental, but is based in a personal study of the topic and centred on Jesus. If you are someone who is not a Christian, but find yourself reading this review. Are you interested in finding out more about the Bible, Jesus or Revelation? If you are in Australia, contact City Bible Forum or if you are in the US, contact Saylorville Church

Leaving the cinema...
What do I think about Left Behind? I will have to admit that I will have to give two different  answers. As a film reviewer, this was a poorly executed film and I would not recommend it to anyone. As someone who looks at every opportunity to talk to people about the Bible and Jesus, if someone chooses to go see the film, let's talk. You will need some clarification and explanation after watching this 'disaster' film. 

What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film? 
1. What does the Bible have to say about the rapture?  (1 Thessalonians 4:17, Luke 17: 34-37)
2. What does the Bible have to say about the end times? (RRs would recommend a study with a Christian through on of the biographies of Jesus & the book of Revelation)

Written by Russell Matthews based on a five star rating system @ Russelling Reviews #russellingreviews