Film Reviews

LEFT BEHIND

By • Nov 19th, 2014 •

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Why the hell did Nicholas Cage agree to be in LEFT BEHIND?

A. He was extorted.
B. Someone was held ransom.
C. He was under hypnosis.
D. They made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. (The budget was reported as 16 million, maybe they paid him 15 million.)

The Coppola family is an American family of Italian heritage with talented artists accenting their homes with golden statuettes as each generation passes. Oscar winner Nicolas Cage, Francis Ford Coppola’s nephew, brings shame to the family with LEFT BEHIND.

LEFT BEHIND is so horrible that it cannot be ignored and must be watched. So, gather the family and plenty of Kleenex to wipe away the tears from hysterical laughter even though this is supposedly a drama. If there were a comedy hall of fame, this would garner top honors.

Nicolas Cage is Rayford Steele, a commercial pilot busted by his daughter, Chloe, on her surprise visit for his birthday as he is in pursuit of flight attendant Hattie Durham played by Nicky Whelan. (On Hattie’s flights, the line to join her in the bathroom for hopeful initiation to the mile high club must extend the length of the plane.) Before spotting her dad, Chloe eyes a local news celebrity (Buck Williams) who introduces himself to her. As luck has it, he will be on her father’s flight.

Forget spoilers. There is absolutely nothing to spoil. Read on.

Doubts begin just moments into the first scene. First clue that this movie is utter fecal matter is the music. When was it composed, 1984? Then the questioning begins; is this ‘the’ Nicholas Cage movie? No. Can’t be. Really? It’s him. Followed by disbelief. Maybe he makes a brief appearance for a minute and is billed as the main cast member? Nope. WTF!

The first scene, which amounts to approximately 18 minutes of nothing, is between Chloe and Buck Williams. At first, Buck is hounded by autograph seekers and as the scene progresses he seems anonymous to everyone. Why did his celebrity disappear? After spying on dad and seeing Buck off, Chloe heads home and is greeted by her younger brother and mother to a house where matrimonial harmony ceased to exist.

Chloe is in the mall when it happens. People, mostly children and numerous adults, vanish and leave behind their clothing. Cries and hysterical screams are followed by the worst car congestion in cinematic history. Cars are facing in every direction. Who is responsible for this on-screen mess? As with any community panic, the flat screens are looted. Run Chloe, run! Get home to your missing brother and mother.

Now, it’s time for twists. And there it is, in the shower with running water, her mom’s Ichthys necklace. Chloe, the girl who spoke out against God and was at odds with her mother, places the fish symbol of Christianity around her neck.

So who took the children? The biggest losers on the planet at that moment are the pedophiles. I’m sure that an international coalition of child perverts were organizing to help find them. Put the faces on the milk cartons, kids like milk.

Meanwhile, up in the air, in the worst plane set occupied by the worst overacting since the days of the silent screen, the disappearances also take place. Although the entire plane is affected, the action only takes place in first class. Normally, disappearing in-flight children would be a blessing since pre-pubescents do not respect silence and take comfort in kicking seats.

This sounds like a joke: There is an Alzheimers patient, a black woman, a drug addict, a Muslim, and a little person on a plane. No, no. This is the main cast on the plane. Of course, the Muslim guy is eyed by the belligerent little person as pulling off this fantastic feat of magical terrorism and the black woman brandishes a gun.

With the co-pilot gone and no communication with the rest of the world, Captain Courageous Steele risks it all by turning the plane around to head back to New York.

There is a mid-air collision that causes the oncoming plane to plummet to a fiery death, causing damage to Steele’s plane, adding to low fuel trouble. At five hundred miles per hour, any object hit may be catapulted off course Thankfully, the rules of physics are not too strict here. Neither are computer generated effects. There is a fair amount of evidence to speculate that some kid with Lightwave answered a gig ad on Craigslist to create a plane and have it crash land for a few hundred dollars and a Nick Cage autograph.

Stephen King is not responsible for the diminished world population. It’s the rapture. This is the event when believers are sent to Heaven. The rest of the population carries forth as the second coming of Christ unfolds. What to do?

Chloe to the rescue! First, she must run through the streets and run the length of railroad tracks through town and keep running to a bridge quite a distance away. And she must scale that bridge to its apex to talk to her mom up in the sky. And at the last moment, before plunging to her death, she grasps her mother’s necklace and..and…and..

“Hello, Buck? Hello, Dad?!” There isn’t so much sap in all of the maple trees in Canada. Her phone finally rings as Buck and Dad attempt profusely to dial her with their satellite phones to no avail. Then, ring.

High atop the bridge, she conjures enough strength to climb down and run again to find an available runway for good ol’ dad’s plane to land. He needs a mile; 9/10ths will do. With impeccable vigor, she clears a path, operates heavy machinery and creates a huge explosion that Dad and Buck assume is the signal for the landing strip. The highlight is the plane coming to a stop. Man, that kid with the computer animation skills is going to be quite something when he grows up.

Then it’s all hugs and kisses and forgiveness. Captain Steele comes out a hero pilot but a loser. It was all bad timing for the poor guy. His wife vaporized to the great beyond, which was followed by his confession to Hattie in which she severs their stall/start relationship.

The Illuminati, the group of evil bent to rule the planet, are accused of spreading their agenda through film. Conspiracy theorists claim that Illumianti leave cryptic messages, create images foretelling of disaster dates and events, promoting their ill will. At least these purported films are done well. This religious propaganda film is just terrible. Symbolism is one thing. This film bashes you over the head with it.

LEFT BEHIND is reminiscent of terrible 70’s disaster television films. MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER should resurrect itself for this. Vic Armstrong, a well regarded stuntman and coordinator with a long list of credits spanning decades working with the elite on huge budgeted films couldn’t pull off his stint as director for this monumental debacle. Why not opt for an Alan Smithee directorial credit? There is no forgiveness for this film. What would Jesus do?

Nicholas Cage sporting a mug of bewilderment and shame for starring in LEFT BEHIND.

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