Thursday, 18 July 2013

God Only Knows!:- The "Left Behind" Trilogy (2000 - 2005)

Why am I sullying my eyes with this??....*sighs*...oh well, lets get on with it....

The Left Behind trilogy of films is a series of Christian action movies (yes, you read that right....whoda thunk it?, mind you, at least it makes a change from the usual "supernatural horror" fayre), based on the first two of the bestselling (seriously) series of books written by evangelical christian authors Tim Lalley and Jerry Jenkins (theres 16 books in all, written betwixt 1995 and 2007, guess there must be a big demand for this sort of thing).

Made by Canadian production company "Cloud 10 Productions", a film company specialising in christian movies, the first film enjoyed a cinematic release, although the sequels only managed direct to DVD releases.
The films were all given scathing reviews on their release, described in such terms as "a shambling mess" and "..being full of ridiculous dialogue and hammy acting" and "bargain basement special effects", they even attracted criticism from Christians, as the films, as well as the books they are based on, lean towards anti Catholicism, xenophobia and in some cases, outright racism due to them being presented from the viewpoint that all other religions and alldenominations of Christianity apart from protestant dispensationalist evangelism are inherently evil.
There was also widespread condemnation of the films due to their staunchly US/Israel centric political message, as well as pandering to "illuminati-esque/New World Order" conspiracy theorists.

Evangelical christian apologist Kirk Cameron stars as Cameron "Buck" Williams, an intrepid reporter who earned the nickname "Buck" due to his tendency to "buck the conventions" of reporters keeping themselves out of harms way. Over the course of the films, Buck goes from being agnostic/atheist to becoming a born again christian after witnessing the "rapture" event and the beginning of the "tribulation". He later becomes a founding member of the "Tribulation Force", a group of christian preachers determined to convert as many people to christianity in order for their souls to be allowed into heaven after the final battle between Jesus and the antichrist.

Plot Synopsies:

Left Behind: The Movie (2000)

"Buck" Cameron is filming a story in Israel when a ridiculously massive ground and air attack force launches an all out attack on Jerusalem from across the Syrian border. As he rushes out into the maelstrom with his camera to film a live report, all the attacking enemy aircraft begin exploding and falling from the sky, despite the Israeli defence forces being completely taken by surprise and unable to make any kind of counter attack.
Later, as he flies to London, the Rapture event takes place and one third of the earths adult population (mostly nice, white protestant christians by the way) and all of the worlds children simply vanish, causing much concern and calamity worldwide.
In the Chaos, a Romainian politician, Nicolae Carpathia (oh yeah cos like thats not a reference to Dracula right?) is elected to the position of Secretary-General of the United Nations, and, building on his previous efforts to unite Europe under one flag, he proceeds to do the same with the rest of the world.
Meanwhile, Buck has learned of a secret multi national plan to rebuild the temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, the completion of which would mark the second coming of Jesus, because as it turns out, everything that has happened thus far is in fact a sign of the end times, as foretold in the bible.
Upon learning this, and learning that Mr. Carpathia is in fact the antichrist, who has come to bring about seven years of tribulation upon those not deemed worthy of entry to heaven, Buck becomes a born again christian, and alongside his love interest and a few other people, including a formerly faithless preacher, forms the "Tribulation Force", A group of militant evangelical preachers who are determined to save those who were not deemed worthy to enter heaven by God during the rapture by converting them to christianity.

Left Behind 2: Tribulation Force (2002)

One week has passed since the rapture event, and the world has descended into chaos.
Most of the US is under martial law due to wide scale rioting and looting, and the suicide rate has increased dramatically.
Over the course of this film, Buck manages to infiltrate the antichrists organisation using his position as a well respected journalist to work his way into Carpathias confidence, where he learns more about his plans for world domination.
The "Trib Force" works in secret to promote christian worship amongst the remaining peoples of earth by distributing bibles and giving sermons telling the truth about Carpathia, their cause is given a boost through the assistance of a Jewish holy man named Ben-Judah.
The film climaxes with both Carpathia and Ben-Judah giving sermons to the world at Temple mount in Israel, however as Carpathia tries to interfere with Ben-Judahs sermon, Buck stops him by damaging his jamming equipment.

Left Behind 3: World at War (2005)

18 months have passed since Ben-Judahs sermon on the mount, and Carpathia has consolidated his power and created the "Global Community" as a successor to the United Nations, with himself as "Supreme Potentate".
The Trib force has continued working in secret to oppose his rule, but they are powerless to prevent the start of world war 3, which had been engineered by the Antichrist in order to cleanse the world of any remaining threats to his power.
To try and put a stop to this, the Trib force attempts to assassinate Nicolae Carpathia, however his position as Antichrist prevents any of their attempts to kill him from succeeding.
The film ends with the GC building lying in ruins, and Carpathia walking away from it completely unharmed.

As "Action films", the Left Behind trilogy is pretty bad, mostly hampered by low budget effects, but as films in general, the whole trilogy is an unholy triumvirate of horrible acting, plot holes, convenient events and many, many cringe worthy scenes, mostly involving peoples conversions to christianity, especially Bucks conversion, which takes place in a toilet as he sits on the floor sobbing and begins begging for divine guidance, which he gets simply by looking in a mirror.
I cant say i recommend these films in any way, shape or form, and thats not me talking as an atheist, thats me talking as someone who likes to actually be entertained by media, as opposed to actually feeling physical pain induced by having faeces forcefully rammed into my eyes and ears.
The worst thing about these films is that quite literally the entire plot development simply revolves around random events that the main protagonists react to, and then credit it to God in their self righteous smug manner.
You can also tell that Kirk Cameron felt  a lot more comfortable in his role after his characters toilet conversion, as it allowed him to extrude his normal air of smugness like what he usually does whenever he and his chum Ray comfort appear on TV together to preach the good word and make bizarre and highly dubious claims about bananas.

I must say though, that actor Gordon Currie's portrayal of the Antichrist is a real pleasure to watch, as he makes the character really feel like the supremely evil Machiavellian villain that he is supposed to be , albeit one with supernatural powers.

All in all, the Left Behind movies feel like little more than a series of low budget TV movies, if you're a bit of a masochist you could watch them, but don't be expecting to get much by way of enjoyment out of them.

I give them 3 out of 10 sacrificial lambs.

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