MOVIE REVIEW: Left Behind ( 2000 )

5
55% Heresy?

Pretribulationists have entered the compound! Pretribulationists have....sssssssssss.

It's unfortunate that only dispensationalist Christians are getting a piece of the Hollywood money, given that much more creative stories could be told.

  • Plot 60 %
  • Acting 60 %
  • Special Effects 40 %
  • Family Rating 60 %

A story about yada yada….like you don’t already know.

Oh, some don’t? Well imagine that every Christian you know just suddenly disappears.  The world panics, and a charismatic leader arises.  Congratulations, you now know the plot of Left Behind which is based on a book series that drags on longer than my Uncle Barry’s fishing stories.

Like the book, the story follows the post rapture events in the lives of two main protagonists, reporter Buck Williams ( Kirk Cameron ) and airline pilot Rayford Steele ( Brad Johnson ).  Through encounters with Pastor Bruce Barnes ( Clarence Gilyard ) they learn the truth of what happened and join to preprare for the coming reign of the Anti-Christ, Nicholae Carpathia ( Gordon Currie ).

Left Behind the Movie, while based on the novel by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, is much more the product of Cloud Ten Pictures.  For those unfamiliar with Cloud Ten, they are the Grand-Poobah of C-grade pretribulationist rapture movies that are designed to at least try to scare viewers into the Kingdom of God.   The names say it all with memorable films like Apocalypse, Revelation and even Judgment that boasts the highly sought after acting talent of Mr. T.

Left Behind is less a movie about evangelism but rather a propaganda piece for Pretribulationism.  Pretribulationism is the idea that the rapture will happen immediately prior to 7 years of God’s judgement on mankind which will end in the return of Christ…who technically already returned at the beginning to rapture his followers…but don’t think about it too much or you’ll need some Dispensationalist-Strength Tylenol.  ( Sorry, inside joke. ) Nobody walked out of this thinking about the gospel. All they thought was that all Christians believed in pretribulationism.

While just about every Christian does indeed believe in Christ’s return, it’s the details and the timing we disagree about.  Does the rapture happen before the tribulation, in the middle, after, or just not at all?   Many big-name Christian leaders such as LaHaye give such heavy weight to their end-times interpretation that anyone who disagrees is often considered an inferior believer.

There.  Confused yet?

Left Behind gets a split down the middle grade because to be honest, it’s not really a bad movie.  On one hand it actually has fairly decent acting.  Kirk Cameron cannot be faulted for any failures as his role playing Buck Williams is handled very well.  Johnson as Rayford seems a little stiff sometimes, but so is his character in the book!  The problem is the source material that really makes the job hard for the acting talent.   The overall production value ranges from good to cheap.  How can I say that?  Well, the scenes that involve people talking and stuff are done well, but any special effects are a washout.  Most involve a trip to the local Halloween store to get some fake blood for the faceless, injured wanderers.

The release of Left Behind was also an odd situation.  Initially it was released on video, and then it was sent to the theaters. The hope was that all the Christians would do free advertising and encourage others to see it.  That assumed two things…one, that all Christians believe in the rapture and two, that all Christians would feel comfortable pushing a movie.  Neither held true and the idea was one that didn’t pay off.

There is a moment that stands out for me though.  It’s a scene with a sad pooch standing next to the clothes of its raptured owner.  What about the dog???

In the end, we can finally say that maybe this whole rapture-mania is going to burn itself out.  Now that a feature film is done there shouldn’t be any more…

What?  They’re doing a remake?

Seriously?

Ah nuts.

© 2011 – 2015, Dysfunctional Parrot. All rights reserved. No reproduction of written material is permitted.

About Author

John Paul Parrot ( aka. The Dysfunctional Parrot ) is a disgruntled Systems Analyst who wanders the Canadian wastelands saving small villages with the power of Kung Fu.  His chair is also a little too close to the twenty year old microwave.  As you can well imagine, this has had certain side effects.

  • FlyinBrian

    Let's just pray the dog owner was "insured".

    http://eternal-earthbound-pets.com/

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      Ha! If a rapture ever did happen and the guy splits town with the cash, what's the owner going to do…come back for a refund?

  • anonymous

    a remake? Al Qaeda was never so diabolical.

  • The first few books in the book series were ok as fiction. Did not match my theology but as Robert A. Heinlien stated, “One man’s theology is another man’s belly laugh.” But the books got so bad I never finished the series.

    Steven

  • Toby

    PRETRIB RAPTURE SECRETS

    How can the “rapture” be “imminent”? Acts 3:21 says that Jesus “must” stay in heaven (He's now there with the Father) “until the times of restitution of all things” which includes, says Scofield, “the restoration of the theocracy under David’s Son” which obviously can’t begin before or during Antichrist’s reign. ("The Rapture Question," by the long time No. 1 pretrib authority John Walvoord, didn't dare to even list, in its scripture index, the too-hot-to-handle Acts 3:21!) Since Jesus can’t even leave heaven before the tribulation ends (Acts 2:34, 35 echo this), the rapture therefore can't take place before the end of the trib! (The above verses from Acts were also too hot for John Darby – the so-called "father of dispensationalism" – to list in the scripture index in his "Letters"!)

    Paul explains the “times and the seasons” (I Thess. 5:1) of the catching up (I Thess. 4:17) as the “day of the Lord” (5:2) which FOLLOWS the posttrib sun/moon darkening (Matt. 24:29; Acts 2:20) WHEN “sudden destruction” (5:3) of the wicked occurs! The "rest" for "all them that believe" is tied to such destruction in II Thess. 1:6-10! (If the wicked are destroyed before or during the trib, who'd be left alive to serve the Antichrist?) Paul also ties the change-into-immortality “rapture” (I Cor. 15:52) to the posttrib end of “death” (15:54). (Will death be ended before or during the trib? Of course not! And vs. 54 is also tied to Isa. 25:8 which is Israel's posttrib resurrection!)

    Many are unaware that before 1830 all Christians had always viewed I Thess. 4’s “catching up” as an integral part of the final second coming to earth. In 1830 this "rapture" was stretched forward and turned into a separate coming of Christ. To further strengthen their novel view, which the mass of evangelical scholars rejected throughout the 1800s, pretrib teachers in the early 1900s began to stretch forward the “day of the Lord” (what Darby and Scofield never dared to do) and hook it up with their already-stretched-forward “rapture.” Many leading evangelical scholars still weren’t convinced of pretrib, so pretrib teachers then began teaching that the “falling away” of II Thess. 2:3 is really a pretrib rapture (the same as saying that the “rapture” in 2:3 must happen before the “rapture” ["gathering"] in 2:1 can happen – the height of desperation!).

    Other Google articles on the 181-year-old pretrib rapture view include “Famous Rapture Watchers,” "Pretrib Rapture Diehards," “X-Raying Margaret,” "Edward Irving is Unnerving," “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” "Walvoord Melts Ice," “Wily Jeffrey,” “The Rapture Index (Mad Theology),” “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers,” “Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism,” “Scholars Weigh My Research,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” "Pretrib Rapture Secrecy," “Deceiving and Being Deceived,” and "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty" – all by the author of the bestselling book “The Rapture Plot” (see Armageddon Books).

    [Thanks, D. Parrot. Found the preceding web goodie. Toby]