Movie Review: Left Behind

LeftBehindby Deana Chadwell    10/6/14
My husband and I rarely go to the movies, but this one had me curious. I had read most of the book and seen the first attempt  (Kirk Cameron) at making a cheesy novel into a major motion picture. At the time that seemed possible – many decent movies come from cheesy books. But alas…

Time for the reprise – and I mean it’s high time. As a biblical Christian I have studied extensively the doctrines and passages that deal with the End Times (which, by the way, are only the preamble to a 1,000 years of world peace and prosperity). Very few prophecy buffs think we’ve got hundreds of years before things start the wind-up to the Millenium. This crucial time period is looking very near and more than possible — perhaps folks who don’t know about it should be informed.[pullquote]…when the believers all vanished they left behind their clothes and possessions – all but their underwear. Perhaps tighty-whities are required in heaven.[/pullquote]

Now, the eschatology presented in both book and movie is biblically valid. What else do you do with these passages? Keep in mind that here Paul is talking to people who are Christians, who believe Jesus is exactly who He said He is.

1st Corinthians 15:52 – In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

1st Thessalonians 4: 16-17 –For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

One can ignore them, but not if one wants to take the rest of the Bible seriously. An event, which hasn’t happened yet, an event so sudden, so unexpected, so bizarre will undoubtedly shake the whole world. I can’t even imagine what such an event would do to the world economy, to government, to travel.

The movie features an airplane from which about a third of the travellers and the co-pilot vanish. Apparently many in the control tower at JFK vamoose as well. You can imagine the turmoil. The premise has the ingredients of a great story, the current world situation makes the situation relevant, and they spent a lot more money on this version. But alas…

The first mistake was Nicholas Cage. That’s a personal reaction on my part – he really didn’t do a bad job, I’ve just never found him very believable and he had a really unfortunate dye job. Can’t a pilot have some gray? What was that about?

LaHaye and Jenkins, authors of the book, did an interesting job of imagining the unimaginable and a solid job of keeping things roughly biblical, but the writing never really solidified and that less-than-literary writing carried over to this movie. Characters were too canned and too predictable. Each and every ethnic or racial group was represented — a pair of Alzheimer’s candidates, a midget, a young Muslim man — who was very sweet, a black mom — who was wife to a basketball player, a journalist — who is the only one besides Cage who doesn’t fall apart. It was like they were all just downloaded from a database of stock characters.

In addition, the situations were overly dramatic (though I’ll have to cut both writers and directors some slack here – the premise is so bizarre that it would hard to tell when you’d crossed that line). And the budget was still inadequate – we never saw or heard from the coach area of the airliner, which gave me the feeling that the story was taking place on a very short plane.[pullquote]The first mistake was Nicholas Cage.[/pullquote]

Not only that, but either we were dealing with a plane-load of folks going commando or the film-makers got squeamish because when the believers all vanished they left behind their clothes and possessions – all but their underwear. Perhaps tighty-whities are required in heaven.

The film was so pre-packaged that in places it got laughs that weren’t meant to be; lines and events just so corny we couldn’t help it. Did the airliner have to come to a final stop only a few feet from a parked tanker truck? Really? Did the daughter have to climb to the highest pinnacle of the bridge for a suicide attempt? Did her dad have to reach her on her cell phone at the precise moment before she jumped? (I could be accused here of giving away the end, but it’s so predictable that I swear I’m doing moviegoers no harm.)

I was entertained, but disappointed. I think we’re on the brink of a major civilizational collapse and this movie really needed to be astounding. It needed to get everyone’s attention. People are going to get left behind and the following seven years are not years anyone wants to go through. In fact, billions of people will lose their lives during that time. We need to realize, internalize the fact that the Bible prophesies that could have happened by now all have, and in great detail – not in the vague, dreamy sense of Nostradamus. This movie needed to scare people into serious thought. But it won’t.

Deana Chadwell blogs at
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Deana Chadwell

About Deana Chadwell

I have spent my life teaching young people how to read and write and appreciate the wonder of words. I have worked with high school students and currently teach writing at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. I have spent more than forty years studying the Bible, theology, and apologetics and that finds its way into my writing whether I'm blogging about my experiences or my opinions. I have two and a half moldering novels, stacks of essays, hundreds of poems, some which have won state and national prizes. All that writing -- and more keeps popping up -- needs a home with a big plate glass window; it needs air; it needs a conversation. I am also an artist who works with cloth, yarn, beads, gourds, polymer clay, paint, and photography. And I make soap.
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8 Responses to Movie Review: Left Behind

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    The first mistake was Nicolas Cage.

    Oh, jeepers. I know what you mean. But don’t get me wrong. I was on the Nicolas Cage bandwagon long before most have ever heard of him. One of the finest f-bombs ever committed to film was by Nicolas Cage in the teenage exploitation film, Valley Girl. (Fast forward to about 50 seconds. He says the word with such depth and feeling, I’m surprised he didn’t at least get an Oscar nomination.)

    But I just have two words to say: Ghost Rider.

    Come to think of it, I haven’t seen “National Treasure II” so I’m going to see if I can find that.

  2. GHG says:

    I read the book many years ago and enjoyed it. I don’t recall many of the details but I do remember that some of the leading characters are killed and for some reason, for me, that lends more credence to a story. Odd, I know, but there it is. 🙂

    I haven’t seen either the old or new version of the movie and based on this review I doubt I will. Thanks for saving me $8.50 (x2) and from eating too much buttered popcorn.

  3. Timothy Lane says:

    Two books I can recommend that deal with the (possible) end times are Nightworld by F. Paul Wilson (which I discussed recently, and which certainly doesn’t follow any eschatological tradition) and The Taking by Dean Koontz (in which some characters think the eschatron is in fact upon them, but only near the end is it learned whether or not they’re right).

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Suffice it to say that you hope at the time of such an event that at least one of the pilots is a sinner.

    Speaking of Kirk Cameron projects, a year or so back I went to see his Monumental. It was okay. There are some interesting points to be made about the monument that is at the center of the movie. I didn’t even know that the thing existed. But it’s fairly slow-paced.

  5. Rosalys says:

    I read the entire Left Behind series and loved most of the books except for the last few. I got the idea that LaHaye and Jenkins were kind of milking a very popular enterprise by dragging it out as long and with as many books as possible.

    I saw the first movie with Kirk Cameron and thought they did a good job, and cheesy or not, I have every intention of seeing the Nicholas Cage version. I like to go to the movies and can enjoy even a cheesy one now and again. I’ll take cheesy over pornography any day – and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find movies that don’t have some gratuitous (and often ridiculous sex) in it so I don’t go very often.

    There was a low budget, end times, trilogy of movies back in the 70’s that started with Thief in the Night that I had qualms about – even though the vast majority of my Evangelical friends raved about it. Most had to do with the low budget-ness of it. At least in the Kirk Cameron version, the clothes left behind by the raptured individuals were left in rumpled piles on the floors and seats. In Thief in the Night the clothing was all neatly folded like it had just come out the package!

    When I first got saved I was a died in the wool pre-millenialist. For a few years after I didn’t even realize there was any other view; but there are mid-millenialists, post millennialists, a-millenialists, and those, the pretorists, who believe that all the New Testament prophesies have been fulfilled already and there will be no rapture (and probably much more!) I still kind of lean toward pre-millenialism – wishful thinking perhaps, because it is a very attractive doctrine, but also because it seems to make the most sense to me with my limited understanding of the Bible – but I am less dogmatic about it than I used to be. I do however know one thing for sure. One hundred years from now (just about) everyone reading this website will have come face to to face with the truth of the Gospel, for good or ill. For whether there is a rapture, great tribulation, and Second Coming in the mean time, or it is still yet to take place, everyone of us will have died. Whether or not these really are the End Times, our own personal end time is rushing toward us faster than most of us would like it and eternity is something we should all be giving much consideration to.

    But if you want a really good “rapture” read, and I think one of the more believable plots in the end times genre, I recommend A Form of Godliness by Shane Johnson. Shane Johnson also has a really, really good Biblical SciFi called Ice. It starts slow but stick with it – it ends fantastic!

  6. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Speaking of Nicolas Cage (and I blame this on Deana who did indeed speak about Nicolas Cage), I watched the sequel to “National Treasure” the other day. And although it is full of improbabilities piled upon improbabilities, it was a fun movie. A movie like this has to be fast-paced because, like walking on a pond of thin ice that is cracking beneath your feet, if you ever stopped to think about what is actually going on in this film, it would all collapse.

    It’s hard to figure if the stupidest moment was when Cage used a traffic camera to grab a shot of an artifact or when he suddenly decided he needed to kidnap the president of the United States, and then made that happen without breaking a sweat. But somehow it all works for a true popcorn movie. Short on brains, long on Saturday matinee appeal.

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