By Bill Arceneaux
It was a few months ago that I, along with my cohorts at Movieboozer.com, viewed and commented on the Kirk Cameron Left Behind trilogy. There was an aggressive and confident determination evident in the production of these movies, making us believe that the filmmakers were trying to make something compelling. Indeed, the premise of a worldwide event where people just disappear without explanation can be grounds for many an emotional exploration. Too bad that the end result was silly and over the top at its best, and boring at its worst.
So, with the first try down as a strike, a new team comes forward with a new adaptation of the faith based book series – this time, packing Nicolas Cage. WHOA! Sure, Mr. Cage has appeared in almost everything the last few years, but he almost always brings something to the table, from subtle movements to outrageous reactions.
In the Baton Rouge area shot Left Behind, we are set in a world where everyone is smiling. From cheek to cheek, there is an almost global mania of joy occurring, rivaling that of the opening to the great (and creepy) Mulholland Drive. Of course, in that movie, it was meant to be odd. Here, it’s all too normal, making it almost an alternate Earth. Boy, it sure would be a shame if a tragedy happened…
To make things a little stranger is that the production is very much like a syndicated drama from the 90s. Sets are lit brightly, second unit footage looks like stock, and the music sounds as if it were commissioned to a company that handles scores for commercials. It’s a film as polished as nail polish smell. This isn’t to say that the filmmakers didn’t work well within their means, but the leftover quality was strong.
Within the story itself is another peculiarity. While there is a small visit to a church, it really is never stated for a fact what is happening and why. A woman on the plane that Mr. Cage pilots during the film feels that what is happening is just a “bad trip.” She then proceeds to use a bag of powdered drugs in the bathroom, and later states that all of this was laid out in the Bible. Was she still high? If so, should we be listening to her? This presents the hidden potential that the religion angle could just be a red herring, and if future installments happen, I would recommend keeping this element. Hold on to the mystery and leave open all doors. With better craft, things could get really intriguing.
In the original movie, the Antichrist himself is revealed, and it’s pretty much accepted that what is happening is The Rapture. This new Left Behind, while laying in religion fairly thick, still leaves the main event a bit unanswered. Characters flock towards faith, but I bet most would in that situation. It’s a movie not interested in conversion but in drama, and that’s good. However, it’s also a movie featuring silliness from the acting to the making of, and that can be as unintentionally funny as it is painful to watch. What this film really needed was Nicolas Cage.
Oh, right. He was in it. How was he? Well…
… he fits in with the weirdness, but never gets weird. He’s just kinda there, playing it straight. In that sense, he was weird, I suppose, if only by default of his casting. Never fly a plane on default, Nic. Especially when things go crazy around you.
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