Left Behind

2014_review_disappointments

Let me just say this right up front before you declare us legally insane and/or possessing of piss-poor taste in films — inclusion on this list doesn’t necessarily mean we think the movie is bad. Sure, that’s true of some of them (I’m looking at you Horns), but in most cases these are simply films we had reason to expect so much more from only to be let down — sometimes dramatically — in the end. 2014 was a spectacular year filled with great cinema, and there’s a lot that we absolutely loved (as evidenced by many of our other year-end lists posting this week), but these are the films that fell short. We walk into every movie hoping for the best, but sometimes our expectations get the best of us whether due to the talent involved or the power of a great trailer. We’re only human after all. So here are fourteen movies we had good reason to suspect we’d like more than we did.

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Birdman Movie

Hopefully you got all of your exercising in last month because October is determined to plant your ass in a theater seat for days on end. It’s our entry point into what we lovingly know as “Awards Season,” but there’s plenty here beyond prestige pics. The variety is commendable, from movies that have no business seeing a podium to slick future contenders to films too good for Oscar. Let’s look for the movies with the most potential to be great. We can even look for Ben Affleck’s missing wife while we’re at it.

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eOne Entertainment

I’m no expert in the Book of Revelations, but I’m pretty confident in my knowledge of the end times and the dispensationalist concept of the Rapture. Basically, everyone’s favorite deity strips all of Earth’s children naked and sucks them (along with some adults for chaperon duty apparently) up into the sky leaving the rest of humanity to face years of struggle, darkness and demonic antics. That sounds bad enough, but according to the new film Left Behind it actually gets worse. It seems god also sucks up all of the fun, entertainment, sense of pacing and quality screenwriters. Rayford Steele (Nicolas Cage) is an airline pilot excited for his imminent flight to London where he’ll get to attend a U2 concert with a sexy flight attendant (Nicky Whelan), and he has no intention of letting his wife and daughter ruin the occasion. Chloe (Cassi Thomson) has returned home from college for his birthday, but when Ray chooses Hattie the stewardess over his recently born-again wife Chloe realizes this is “the saddest day of her life” even though she did get to chat with a famed TV journalist named Buck Williams (Chad Michael Murray). And then the Rapture hits! [Sad trombone.] To be clear, Left Behind is not a bad movie because of its Christian plot lines and concepts. It’s a bad movie simply because no one involved in its production cared to make a good one.

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Left Behind Movie

It’s the end of the world, and Nicolas Cage‘s wife knew it. Unfortunately, he didn’t believe her, so he’s stuck taking the place of a pilot who has suddenly vanished alongside a sizable amount of plane passengers. It’s a pretty inconvenient time for the rapture to happen, but Cage’s character is a pilot so things aren’t all that bad. Left Behind is the story of a bunch of non-Christians who have to endure the worst era in world history because God has closed the lid on his creation experiment with a final harumph. The movie is based on the book series from Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins that plays What If with the Book of Revelation, attempting to theorize how we might handle the rise of the Antichrist and the devastation that follows the great exodus of believers. It’s also technically a remake in the wake of a trinity of films starring Kirk Cameron that Jenkins described as “church basement movies.” Unfortunately, the trailer for the new incarnation shows off what still looks like made-for-TV quality:

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Left Behind Teaser Trailer

The original Left Behind was not a quality film. This isn’t coming from me, as I haven’t seen it; I’m going by the word of Jerry B. Jenkins, one of the authors of the original sixteen “Left Behind” novels. According to Jenkins, he and his writing partner Tim LaHaye sold away their movie rights to the first available outlet, and ended up with three “church basement movies.” I’ve never seen a movie in a church basement, but I’m guessing they’re not of the highest quality. And that’s why Jenkins and LaHaye sued Cloud Ten Pictures Inc., on the grounds that Left Behind: The Movie, Left Behind II: Tribulation Force and Left Behind: World at War were bad movies. Apparently, that’s a thing you can do now. It’s also a thing you can win, because in 2008, Jenkins and LaHaye emerged the victors after almost a decade of legal squabbling. They had what they set out to obtain: the right to remake their Rapture-based thriller novels as the blockbuster film series they’d always imagined. Back in January, we were treated to our first clip of their new Left Behind. Not only did it have Nicolas Cage, but it had Nicolas Cage saying “But hey, if she’s gonna run off with another man, why not Jesus?” with a wistful sigh. Jesus, it seems, has given up the whole “dying for our sins” thing, and is now running off with our women like a common Lothario.

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cage

Quiz any random person on the street about Nicolas Cage‘s impressive body of work and they’ll be able to give you their favorite Cageist moment from his repertoire. Is it Wicker Man Cage, his head enveloped in a metal cage, screaming about the bees, oh god the bees? Or National Treasure Cage, plotting to steal the Declaration of Independence just because it makes so much sense? Or perhaps it’s Ghost Rider Cage, the one who is literally on fire for most of the movie? Whatever the preferred flavor of Cage Rage, there’s a guaranteed new addition to be added to the list of stellar  performances. Enter Left Behind, the adaptation of the Christian apocalypse-themed books by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. If you haven’t heard of these books, then it’s already too late for you; the enormously popular series boasts over 19 books detailing the End of Days for those wicked booze-swillin,’ sex-havin,’ not church-attendin’ sons of guns who dare not take God seriously. The real Christians and the pure and innocent are ascended into Heaven while the heathens are — wait for it — left behind on Earth to suffer as much as possible. The books follow the survivors of the rapture as they battle environmental catastrophe, political and economic crisis and worldwide epidemics the likes of which have never been seen. Ours is a vengeful and unforgiving God.

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aboutlastnight1

You’ve seen our preview of our most anticipated movies of 2014. Now put away those expectations for a bit and be patient, because it’s homework time. As you may know, each weekend I offer some recommendations for movies, both well-known and obscure, to see after you’ve watched that latest hot new release. I’ll be continuing this feature into the new year, so you can look forward to adding more to your backlog queue with titles tied to everything from The Legend of Hercules to Night at the Museum 3. First, though, I want to get a jump on some of the most obvious movies of the past related to the upcoming movies of the near future. These are primarily the original works receiving remakes in the first half of 2014 — or older works based on the same stories. And as usual, some are more popular and familiar than others. Couldn’t you just skip the old versions and go blindly into the new as if it’s a fresh property? Of course, and you can keep on listening to cover songs, too. And always see the movie instead of reading a book. However, if you’re interested in knowing your history and also being able to judge something with proper awareness of what came before, whether you want to make comparisons or not, read ahead and prepare yourself for the next six months of moviegoing.

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Michael Rosenbaum

As if the casting situation regarding the lead role for James Gunn’s upcoming Marvel movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, needed to get even more heated, today brings news that yet another candidate has been reading for the lead role of Peter Quill: AKA the half-human, half-alien intergalactic cop called Star-Lord. Michael Rosenbaum, who’s no stranger to the comic book world given his many years playing Lex Luthor on TV’s Smallville, recently took to his Twitter account to inform his followers that, “Read for my pal @JamesGunn GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY for PETER QUILL. What a treat! Thanks Jimmy. @Marvel.” If you can’t read Twitterspeak, that means Rosenbaum now joins Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zachary Levi, and Jim Sturgess in the stable of actors we’ve heard are up for the role.

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hr_Alvin_and_the_Chipmunks-_The_Squeakuel_1

What is Casting Couch? It’s the movie news column that’s easing into Christmas with a cup of coffee and some casting reports. Let’s take this one step at a time. Marvel Studios is on such a roll now that any movie they make that ties directly into their upcoming Avengers 2 is going to be a big deal—even if it’s based off of a comic book that nobody’s ever heard of like Guardians of the Galaxy. So, the competition among young actors to get cast as the Guardians’ leader, Star-Lord, is pretty fierce. According to Variety, that competition has been narrowed down to two guys. The trade reports that Jim Sturgess is the sole survivor of the original crop of five actors the studio screen tested for the role, and Zachary Levi impressed so much playing the smaller role of Fandral in Thor 2, that Marvel is looking to give him a larger role in their universe by maybe making him the half-human, half-alien leader of this ragtag crew. Who would you find more believable commanding a gun-toting space-raccoon?

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Nicolas Cage Raising Arizona

Just how bad is Nicolas Cage‘s IRS bill? It’s no secret that Cage started taking any offer a few years back in an effort to stave off the tax man, and the result has been a series of films that not even he can tell apart. Seriously, can you spot the difference between Seeking Justice, Trespass, and Stolen? He’s managed to mix in a few accidental gems along the way, but it’s still a sad state of affairs for an Academy Award-winning actor with both talent and personality to spare. But that was just the beginning of his fall though. Per Variety, Cage is negotiating to star in a theatrical reboot of the Left Behind series. Holy shit indeed.

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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