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WCBrown

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Left Behind (2014/I)
11 out of 38 people found the following review useful:
Not Left Behind, 5 October 2014
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I am going to make an honest attempt to do what most of the movie critics are not doing and that is to set aside my own personal bias and prejudices and review this film as objectively as possible in comparing it to other like movies that I have seen (without actually mentioning those movies). In that light, then I will review the quality of the acting, the quality of the production, and the quality of the screenplay itself as it compares to the original book series which made the #1 New York Times best seller list and has sold 63+ million copies to date. Because these prophetic events have not taken place yet I will use the same tact that book series authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins have taken and treat the subject as science fiction, which is how the movie is billed besides action, adventure, fantasy, and thriller.

Nicolas Cage (Rayford Steele) and Leah Tompson (Irene Steele) were the only two actors that I really had a lot of previous familiarity with, though Gary Grubbs (Dennis) and Martin Klebba (Melvin Weir) stood out as well in my memory from their previous cinema and television roles. The other main actors are probably more recognized by the younger generations behind me and they would include Chad Michael Murray (Buck Williams) who mainly did movies and Nicky Whelan (Hattie Durham) and Cassi Thomson (Chloe Steele) who did mainly TV roles. For the actors who I am familiar with, I thought they played their roles in a very compelling way on or above par with their previous roles. Cage, the top-billed star of Left Behind, was very convincing in his demeanor before and after the Rapture and left me being drawn into his character instead of simply watching a detached actor and I can say the same for Tompson as well. All the main actors did well and garnered my mental and emotional attention.

The production was made on a moderate budget ($15M) and it was reflected in the quality of the audio and selection of background music, both of which weren't bad but could have been improved upon for this audiophile. The rest of the production was done quite well all things considered and I really liked the panicked rioters, crash scenes of driverless/pilotless vehicles and planes and the depiction of the widespread chaos, terror, and despair of humanity left behind after the Rapture along with the personal artifacts (i.e. clothes and jewelry, one scene particularly mind-bending) belonging to about a third of their former members, the only evidence of their pre-Rapture existence. Pretty stunning and thought-provoking when you consider it.

How did the movie compare with the books? Well, when you realize that this just touched on the first of 12 books (not counting the 4 prequels published later) the producers are definitely going to have to keep this franchise going or there will be a lot of frustrated viewers including me, especially the way the movie ended. Moreover, as with most movies produced from books, a lot will be cut out and sometimes rearranged and Left Behind was no exception, though the screenplay seemed pretty seamless and linear with a couple of exceptions. As science fiction, the storyline was pretty convincing and put together in a logical way from scene to scene with different parts and or characters panning out and occurring simultaneously. Nevertheless, it was still comprehensible and made for a pretty good story.

One final word, and I will admit to being biased at this point. I have been promoting this movie for about a month now and my evangelical world-view embraces the eventual apocalyptic drama that Left Behind attempts to depict. You can ignore the movie critics and negative one-star reviewers for this simple reason. Faith-based movies are a direct affront to atheists, some agnostics, and theological liberals and when you read their reviews, their negative bias comes out loud and clear. It's not the quality of the production they have a problem with, but the message contained therein and they are offended by it. It is the same pattern over and over again towards faith-based movies. The one-star critics and their irrational hate-based triads and the 10-star faithful, who are somewhat just as irrational in their loyalty towards these movies whether they are really any good or not. Left Behind in my opinion was a good medium budget production on par with the majority of the films I've seen. It was a satisfying movie for me and will buy the Blu-Ray (or DVD) when it comes out.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
This family redefines the word "dysfunctional", 24 March 2012
8/10

This movie will take you down several paths, the individual lives of each member of this crazy, dramatic, dysfunctional family, where at first you think the ends of those paths are obvious, then twists and turns into something completely unexpected. There is drama, humor, and some very touching moments where, honestly, I cried, laughed, disagreed with, agreed with, then shook my head in wonder at the genius and insight of the writers of this story. If you have come from a dysfunctional family (really, who hasn't) and recovered, or not, you will truly appreciate this story at many levels. A refreshing change from the typical Hollywood fare.

4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
I'll Never Forget It, 13 February 2006
9/10

I think I was 7 or 8 years old when I saw this movie by myself at a local theater in Springfield, IL, where I grew up. I don't think the MPAA ratings were in place or enforced when I was allowed in the theater and I think they should have rated it PG-13 and not allowed me in without a parent or older kid to help me keep my sanity.

Now, 42 years later, I can still remember two things about Village Of The Damned: those damned eyes, and the damned ending. The children literally scared the bejeezus out of me and I was afraid to walk the 8 blocks home for fear of meeting one or more of these kids. I had nightmares for a couple of weeks, like some of the other commentators here stated they experienced.

I was delighted to see that a well-known online DVD rental company actually has the DVDs of this and its sequel in a box set and it is on my list to see very shortly. I just hope I don't have flashbacks of the same terror I experienced during my initial exposure to this psychic masterpiece. My wife and two grown daughters have not seen it. I know it will get to my wife; doesn't take much to get a rise out of her. I just hope my daughters are not too jaded from modern special-effects movies to find this "old-school" B&W flick uninteresting. Personally, I can't wait. BTW, I did see the 1995 re-make and it was OK, but nothing as intrusive in my psyche as the original.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
This is not entertainment . . ., 8 April 2004
9/10

. . . . Then what is it? A graphic portrayal of what it took for God to redeem the human race, plain, simple, to the point. It is central to the Gospel message . . . the sacrificial death and triumphal resurrection of the Savior of the world, and the movie displays the message graphically and verbally. The twelve hours of agony portrayed in about 2 hours of celluloid is perfectly balanced by the one minute shot of the risen Christ. His sufferings were temporary . . . His triumph is forever and affects us all. If you are a believer, this movie at least should convict you to fall in love with the Savior and walk with Him daily. At most, it will motivate you to choose the way of discipleship to become like Him to further the Kingdom of God. If you are an unbeliever with an open mind and an appreciation for the self-imposed sufferings of humanity, this movie should convict you to at least honestly examine the claims of Jesus Christ and at most accept Him as Savior and Lord of your life.

Now, with the central message aside, Mel Gibson's directing style is reminiscent of director Franco Zeffirelli's attention to historical and cultural detail in his Jesus of Nazareth movie with Gibson providing an additional emphasis with the original languages of the time. It is true that Koine Greek was the multi-cultural business language of the region like English is today in the world, and that it was the primary language the writers of the New Testament used beginning some 15-30 years later. However, Aramaic was the other widely accepted common `street' language with Hebrew and Latin limited to the pockets of the cultures that developed those languages, namely the Jews and the Romans. So it was irrelevant which common language Gibson chose to use in the film as some other critics were quick to make an issue of because it could have been either one. My only issue with The Passion was that some of the acting was a tad melodramatic as though what was happening to Jesus was unusual. To the Romans and most of the Jews this was just another day of Roman justice and a lot more common than some would suppose. There were thousands of crucifixions done in Palestine within a two hundred year span and Jesus' was just one of many despite some of the extraordinary phenomena that surrounded it (i.e. earthquakes, rending of the veil in the temple, raising from the dead of others besides Jesus, etc.). This explains why there is such little historical reference to the events apart from the writers of the New Testament, a brief reference by the Jewish historian Josephus, and a couple of inscriptions.

John Debney did a wonderful job of setting the various moods of the movie with his compositions, much like John Williams, but with a more somber tone and cultural twinge. The set designs, makeup, costumes, and scoring was all quality and added to my enjoyment of the movie and I did indeed feel transported back in time some 2,000 years. In my opinion, a movie has not done its job unless it is believable and draws you into the story. No doubt, getting both detractors (orthodox Jews, skeptics, and negative film critics) and proponents (word-of-mouth, mainly from the churches and early screenings which impacted many) of the film involved in the pre-release hype was marketing genius and went beyond everyone's expectations though I do not think it was deliberate by Icon Productions. Religion stirs the passions of many, both pro and con. Quite frankly, I did not expect The Passion to do as well as it did in the box office but I am happy that Gibson got at least a thousand percent return on his investment. I give the film 9 out of 10.

78 out of 92 people found the following review useful:
What, me cry?, 16 November 2003
9/10

Look . . . I'm mainly into sci-fi, fantasy, action-thriller, and special effects movies (i.e. Matrix, LOTR, Identity, Star Wars, etc.) and generally try to avoid chic flicks and warm-fuzzy feel-good movies. After watching the current Freaky Friday starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan now I understand why.

See, I'm a guy, and guys don't cry, well, that's what we've been told. On top of that I'm 48 years old so I'd better have my maturity act together. So, what happened? Besides laughing my butt off at the truly funny scenes (my wife and I caught a few stares from other movie-goers), I had to strain every muscle in my body to keep from bawling like a, no, it can't be true .. . girl.

I might have to consult a therapist (Jamie Lee can certainly fill that role anytime) to understand why this movie had such a profound effect on my emotions. Maybe it's because my parents never really understood me (I certainly understand them now) or maybe it's because I have a couple daughters and I've rarely tried to put myself in their shoes. This movie accomplished that for me, big time . . . the ultimate exercise in empathy.

The interaction between mother and daughter was superbly acted and very believable especially with the switched roles. Moreover, the supporting characters, from the little brother, to the fiancé, to the grandfather, to even the detention monitor at the school were also outstanding and made this story a real winner.

I can honestly say that this is in my top 20 favorite movies of all time and I will most certainly buy the DVD when available. I can't believe I've been saying all this about a movie way out of my usual genre but here it is, in writing. Please watch this movie, and then tell me I'm not losing it. Enjoy!

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Midwestern Americana At It's Best, 29 July 2003
8/10

Having grown up in Central Illinois, and having fled the emotional constipation of the region to the geographical and social variety of the Pacific Northwest, I perfectly understood the mindset of the main characters in this masterpiece. The anal innocence or naivety of people far removed from the sophistication of a connected world was painfully real yet humorous. Because of my deliberate emancipation from that culture (interestingly enough, I'm still Christian and moderately conservative) I could look at it from the outside and laugh at myself, my father, mother, relatives, and friends.

This movie was well researched. It is both funny and thought-provoking. I am quite frankly surprised that Hollywood could produce such a quality movie with this much positive and negative insight to the psyche of the Bible belt. Everyone associated with this film deserves an Oscar. Thanks for the memories.

6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Don't bother, 9 July 2000
1/10

I like Carrey and most of the movies he's been in. But this one just flat out sucks. I can handle foul language and sexual innuendo, most of the movies I watch are R-rated or PG-13. But when I'm constantly being beaten over the head with it to the point of distraction then it's not fun anymore. The racial and gender stereotypes were inappropriate, embarrassing and completely out of context. We walked out after 45 minutes but got a credit for another movie anyway. Oh well.