I was looking through the thesaurus this morning and I’ve decided to go with wacko!
I can already hear the readers I have from America asking why I am reviewing this film considering I specialise in films that most people haven’t heard of, well it’s because I am English and outside of America this film seems to be virtually unknown and it doesn’t even seem that well known in it’s native America.
After first hearing about this film on the Chris Stuckmann film review channel on Youtube (which I would highly recommend by the way), I decided that I had to watch this film and review it for myself, especially as I seem to be one of the few people on the internet that finds Nicolas Cage watchable having enjoyed his performances in films such as “Lord of War” and “Kick Ass”.
It also continues the seemingly very popular theme of what is described in the Bible as “The Rapture,” an event where all of the innocent people in the world are ascended to heavy whilst the rest of humanity has to survive with what’s left. There have been several mainstream films with that as a plot point in recent years including “Red State” and “This is the End”, as well as a few TV shows, but all were done significantly better than this.
Ray (Cage) and Irene (Lea Thompson) have had a rocky marriage for a year now since the latter started practicing religion and it has taken it’s toll on the rest of the family, such as Chloe (Cassi Thompson). As he returns to New York for his birthday, Ray decides to avoid the situation at home by again flying to London.
Everything appears to be running normally before a worldwide flash sees numerous people vanish in a rapture style event and those that are left behind have to deal with the immediate situations. Ray is now left without a co-pilot and facing flying amongst planes that are being left on autopilot after their pilots are taken, whereas on the ground Chloe searches for her brother.
As Ray tries to get home safely, everyone reacts in the way that they see fit, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Yeah, that does sound quite bad…
Let me start off by saying that I am not even slightly religious, not in any sense of the word and I had mentally prepared myself for dealing with a film that’s nearly 2 hours long and has a very religious message, or at least I thought I was prepared for the onslaught of religious tones and messages that I just watch.
I’m going to start the review off positively by saying that although it takes more than 30 minutes to get to the actual rapture section of the film, the actual scenes immediately following it are actually done relatively well with all the panicking and a lot of people that weren’t chosen for the rapture showing why they weren’t chosen, such as two people raiding the handbag of a woman who was shopping and disappeared. That’s where my positivity really ends as it’s the only decent part of the movie and lasts for a grand total of 5 minutes before returning to the horrible film making of before.
The main point of contention for the film in my opinion is that there is NO relenting in the religious tones. From the first minute two characters get into an argument about God’s intentions in the middle of an airport. In the first 12 minutes of the film, Chloe, a supposedly non-religious person, has two conversations about God with random strangers. A non-religious person does not go on about religion in every single conversation, I know I don’t, but this film would have you believe that it’s all atheists or agnostics ever talk about, hell, I doubt even religious people spend every single conversation talking about God.
Religious overtones continue, especially when the religious mother has an argument with her non-religious daughter, and quite frankly this was one of the most painful scenes to watch in the film as there is no chemistry between the two, which is made more remarkable by the fact that they are mother and daughter in real life. Lea Thompson does well in her role as the mother and uses her years of experience to try and carry her daughter’s lack of acting ability, it ultimately fails though. The religious theme never calms down and you wouldn’t be surprised if the film had been made by the Vatican as a message to none religious people
One thing that always bugs me with films is when you have characters that fit the stereotypes and “Left Behind” is full of them. You’ve got a pilot who is cheating on his wife, numerous religious characters who refuse to accept the opinions of those that don’t believe in God, a dwarf character who has a complex about his height, a Muslim character who automatically thinks that people think he is going to blow up the plane, a mother going through a divorce who thinks that the other passengers are part of a conspiracy to kidnap her daughter, and so many more than I would care to list.
In a film that seems to be exceptionally out of touch with reality, one key message that the film gives off immediately following the rapture is that all children under the age of 10 are classed as “innocent” enough to get taken in a rapture situation. You don’t see any children under the age of 10 after the rapture happens and to suggest that virtually everyone under the age of 10 is innocent and a good person is complete and utter nonsense. Young children, say 6 and younger can be classed as innocent so I will happily go along with that one, but to suggest that kids aged 7-10 are perfectly well behaved and never cause any trouble is complete and utter nonsense. Yes, some 7-10 years would disappear, but to say that virtually all are innocent is a load of nonsense.
The music in this film is as cheesey as it gets. There’s a scene early on between Chloe and Ray when the latter is reflecting on his strained relationship with his wife, but the music in the background would be the type you would expect in a sports movie when a competitor has just lost and is watching their opponent pick up the medal or trophy. It was quite clearly just “stock music” (recorded with no specific movie in mind and then added randomly) and this continues throughout the entire movie.
Infact, the same song seems to play at various points during the near 2 hour duration, regardless of context. Don’t get me wrong, the same song being used over and over again isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For example, in Titanic various versions of “My Heart Will Go On” is played to good effect, and “To the Stars” features prominently in “Dragonheart”, but they both work well because they are used at the right times and don’t seem out of context when they are played. In many ways it removes any real tension from the film and I really don’t care about the plight that some of them face due to the music.
I wouldn’t even say that it’s the music that stops me caring about the characters, it’s how poorly they are written. There isn’t any character development at all and that is a very bad thing with regards to some characters, especially Chloe, who is arguably the main female character in the film. She isn’t a particularly interesting character, is poorly portrayed by Cassi Thompson and offers nothing to the overall story.
To be honest the whole film would have been marginally better if it had only been set on the plane and not on the ground as well as, other than the initial reactions, nothing really happens with the characters on the ground. The characters on the plane have no way of getting updates of what has happened, whereas those on the ground can see the news. The plane based characters have the tension of not even being able to search for their loved ones, something that the ground characters do.
It wasn’t as bad as I was expecting and I have definitely seen worse films, such as the recently reviewed “Zombie Apocalypse” but saying that it’s not as bad as that isn’t really a compliment because pretty much any film could be better than that pile of rubbish.
As I said at the beginning of the last section, I’m not a religious person and therefore take the whole concept of the rapture as pure nonsense but that doesn’t mean that a film with the subject matter will be awful, afterall, I did enjoy “Red State”. The subject matter doesn’t have to be realistic for it to be a good film, but in this case the film is definitely not excellent.