Friday, August 13, 2010

Kirk and Schlock

The time has come for yet another in my famously irregular series of Liveblogs. This is where I take a movie I haven't seen before and write real time snarky comments. I've said before that these must be movies available for streaming on Netflix but I really wanted to do this one which means there is an actual piece of plastic called a DeeVeeDee in my house. My one big wish right now is that I won't die before I mail this back. If I do, my family will think I was a Fundamentalist Christian and plan my funeral accordingly. Why? Because today's movie is Left Behind, an adaptation of what's probably the best selling piece of Biblical fanfiction ever. It stars God's Last True Prophet, Kirk Cameron. Please note that yes, I do spoil the entire movie. Ready? Set? No? Too bad cause here...we...GO!

0:00:50 -- Kirk starts reading a banal narration about how we should have known better about something. It may have sounded cool if Morgan Freeman, Patrick Stewart or Kelsey Grammer had read it but Mike Seaver did it instead so it doesn't.

0:03:15 -- The opening credits also served as an uninspired tourist video of Jerusalem. We learned that Jerusalem contains well known landmarks and that people there walk around a lot. A IMDB search shows that two of the writers have only written Christian films but one, Alan McElroy, went on to write Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever. This tells me we're in for a treat. The director is Vic Sarin, a man known for directing nothing. I'm guessing what I've seen so far was made possible by something known to film scholars as the distinctive Vic Sarin touch.

0:05:10 -- Filmed in the year 2000, the movie shows a massive bombing attack on Israel involving hundreds of fighter jets by the Iraqi Air Force. Cause, you know, Saddam had a huge Air Force. Remember?

0:09:45 -- Kirk Cameron's character, newsman Buck "Buck" Williams, was in Israel filming corn (seriously) and was ushered to safety into some nearby craphole that also just happens to be the nerve center of the Israeli Defense Forces. No one seems to think that maybe you shouldn't let a foreign journalist watch as your top military people try to save your country from a devastating surprise invasion but hey, what do I know about military strategy? This could be common. It turns out they had nothing to worry about since all the invading aircraft are mysteriously blowing up. Buck manages to get back outside and film some of the carnage and also manages to catch the real story, that being a crazy looking old man in robes speaking important sounding gibberish about war and covenants.

0:18:00 -- We've met airline pilot Ray Steele blowing off his son's birthday party so he could command a flight to London. Let me take a moment and say: Really? Ray Steele? Buck Williams? These are the names you're going with, movie? I can't wait to meet Mike Tiger, Steve Crush and Terrence "Duke" Hunter. Anyway, Buck got a call from some super nervous informant who has information about the planes that attacked Israel but won't pass on that information just yet. He'll do it later when he surely won't have died under mysterious circumstances. The informant's name, incidentally, is Dirk Burton so yeah, these are the names they're going with.

0:22:45 -- Two evil looking banker types call Dirk Burton a security risk and describe his job as "an Infotactics ferret." I guess that means his duties include collecting data and forming strategies to make his wild rabbit hunting easier.

0:30:00 -- Buck got onto a London flight that Ray was piloting just in time for the Rapture. You all know about that Rapture, right? That's where God takes the Earth's pious Christians body and soul up to Heaven to spare them the tribulations of the oncoming Apocalypse. As for the sinner? They get LEFT BEHIND. By modern Evangelical Christian standards, this means non-Christians, anyone who's had an abortion, people who say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas and those who voted to legalize gay marriage. Ray is still here because he was having an affair with a flight attendant but it looks like his wife and son got Raptured. He has a teenage daughter too and I knew the second I saw her that she would be LEFT BEHIND because, despite being a decent girl who told her father he should spend more time with his family, is obviously a sinner because she wears a nose ring. Seriously.

0:50:00 -- The story's been dragging along since the Rapture but those two evil bankers I mentioned before, Stonegal and Cothran, are about to launch their plan that somehow dominates the world by giving everyone cheap and plentiful food. Involved in this somehow is Nicolae Carpathia, another super duper manly-named dude who is a humanitarian that works for the U.N. This sounds like a good thing to most people but Evangelicals think of the U.N. as the world headquarters for witches who have gay sex with animals so he's probably the Antichrist. Meanwhile, we're also following Buck's thrilling attempts to rent a private plane.

0:51:30 -- In a totally unforeseen turn of events, Dirk Burton has been murdered. Also, I don't know how much money Infotactics Ferrets make but he was living in a 3 floor townhouse in NYC so when this is done I'm going to see if the local Learning Annex has courses in Infotactics Ferreting.

1:02:00 -- Nicolae Carpathia has a plan to rebuild the Temple of Solomon, an event foretold as a sign of the End Times and another sign that Carpathia is the Antichrist. He also wants to end world hunger and to establish worldwide nuclear disarmament which makes him the worst Antichrist ever. Meanwhile, Ray's becoming the kind of annoyingly religious person that even God gets tired of after a while. I suppose it's important since the one thing that kept Ray's perfectly decent nose-ring daughter from being Raptured was her lack of faith.

1:22:00 -- Buck is convinced that they're living through the Apocalypse when he meets Carpathia and discovers his enthusiastic plan to make pretty much all of the Bible's End Time prophecies come true.

1:36:00 -- And that's that. Carpathia killed the bankers who thought they controlled him and used some sort of Antichrist dark jedi mind trick to make everyone but Buck think they killed themselves. Buck goes back to Ray and nose-ring girl to do something or other to fight the Antichrist and the movie ends. As the hilariously awful electronic end credits music plays, I realize there's something that's always confused me about Apocalyptic Christian fiction. Why does Satan always do exactly what God said he would do when those prophecies also foresee the failure of his plans and the establishment of Christ's Kingdom on Earth? If the Antichrist happens to be reading this, I don't want to tell you your business or anything but you might want to shake up the game plan just a bit.


CinemaslaveJoe said...

Excellent write-up! But I'm pretty sure the Bible is the best selling piece of Biblical fanfiction.

Michael Clear said...

Well, looks like someone's not getting raptured. And yes spellcheck, I see you flagging to word "raptured". I'm going to use it anyway.

Dan Coyle said...

I believe the writers of the Left Behind series eventually wound up suing Cloud Ten pictures over how shitty the film is.

In fact, when it came out in 1999, it was actually released on video first, and if you bought the tape you'd get a bit at the beginning with Cameron imploring viewers to see the movie when it comes out in theaters.

Michael Clear said...

I never even knew it had a theatrical release. Judging by its quality, I would have said it was a made for TV movie for Christian Broadcasting or something like that.

Dan Coyle said...

Cloud Ten Pictures was a notoriously low-rent producer of Christian schlock cinema. LB got a brief theatrical release. I think two other movies were made before lawsuits flew and options expired.