Movie Review: Left Behind

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Left Behind starring Nicolas Cage, Chad Michael Murray, and Cassi Thomson opened yesterday in theaters. Most of the reviews I’ve read from the general media have given the film poor ratings. I was shocked at their reaction. My husband and I enjoyed the movie, and I watched it twice. I’m no expert on special effects, videography, or acting, but I know what I like, and I enjoyed this film.

With many changes and omissions in the story, this 2014 version of Left Behind revisits the series about the Rapture that starred Kirk Cameron beginning in 2000. The films are based on the best-selling Left Behind series of novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.

When I watched the 2014 film, I was disappointed not to see more biblical information included. I was waiting for the gospel to be presented as an explanation for what had happened to those who disappeared. Then I surmised the filmmakers were trying to reach a wider audience than just Christians. However, from the way the secular critics talk, you’d think the film pounds viewers over the head with the Bible. It doesn’t, but I think it might inspire people to find out what all this Rapture talk is about.

I find it interesting that secular critics are bashing Left Behind, where the biblical message is toned way down, while praising The Song, a movie full of Scripture with a clear biblical message, especially if you watch through the credits. (Please read my review of The Song for cautions about this film.)

I view Left Behind as more of a crossover movie, and maybe that’s one of the reasons the critics hate it. Perhaps they want to punish Nicolas Cage for venturing into faith-based films. I applaud him for it.

From the reviews I’ve read, it is obvious some critics don’t understand who will be raptured. Among their descriptions of raptured folks are: “pure of heart and intention,” “good and innocent,” and “devoutly religious or just young and pure.”

They don’t get it. Only Jesus can make a person pure, good, and innocent because of His death that paid for the sins of all humans. We either accept or reject that free gift. If we don’t want Him, He won’t force Himself on us. Those that believed in Jesus in the movie were raptured; those who didn’t weren’t, except that all children were taken with the believing adults.

Yes, as the critics said, I noticed that some of the acting wasn’t the best, and the sets didn’t cost a fortune, but then I notice that in some of my favorite films by the Kendrick Brothers. When I watch a movie, I want to come away inspired to live a better life, challenged to think more deeply, or just simply entertained in a tasteful way. State-of-the-art special effects don’t do that. Multi-million-dollar Hollywood extravaganzas rarely do that. Good stories about people wresting with real life and finding real solutions do. And whether the critics like it or not, the Bible has the best – the only– true answers to life.

If you want to see an entertaining film about what might happen on the day the Great Tribulation begins, go see Nicolas Cage in Left Behind. I hope future films in this series will present the gospel message more clearly. Meanwhile, you can enjoy a suspenseful film where possibly the only caution would be the occasional depth of Cassi Thomson’s neckline.

Jeanne Dennis, heritageoftruth.com

 

Movie Review: THE SONG – Even the Wisest is a Fool for Love

Song 1410484570-TS-InstagramHowHandsomeA new faith-based movie called The Song will open in theaters around the country tomorrow. I have watched this film twice to make sure I am giving an accurate and fair review. Two others from our ministry have watched it once, and we have discussed the film together. This review is a composite of our thoughts.

The Song is a modern parable about a man searching for love and meaning that very loosely parallels the life of Solomon and a small portion of the life of King David. Verses from the Song of Solomon and especially from Ecclesiastes are quoted throughout the movie.

The plot, which is often music-driven, is the story of Jed King (Alan Powell), the son of the late country singer David King. Jed tries to make it as a singer/songwriter in his own right, but to no avail. A man of faith, he meets, falls in love with, and marries Rose Jordan (Ali Faulkner), a sweet, beautiful woman of faith. He promises her dad never to be a moral failure like his father.

With his love for Rose, Jed finds new inspiration and finally becomes a huge success. Soon fame, fortune, and a pretty vixen of a woman named Shelby Bale (Caitlin Nicol-Thomas) change all that. Jed lives for pleasure and forgets God. I will not spoil the movie for potential viewers by revealing any more. Song 1410484572-TS-InstagramOneFleshHowever, I will tell you that this is a story of redemption, and it ends well. Be sure to stay for the credits, because one of the best scenes follows.

Overall, The Song has a great and powerful message. The cinematography and scenery are lush, the acting flawless, and the music professionally performed (except when Powell belts it out a few times and drifts off key).

The producers seem proud to call the film a sexy Christian film. As a book of the Bible, the Song of Solomon has the same reputation. It presents the pure, beautiful relationship of a man and his bride – symbolic of the pure, intimate relationship of Christ to His church.

In The Song, the love relationship between the husband and wife at the beginning is pure and good. I like the way the film portrays pure love as exciting and beautiful, just as God planned it. There is no nudity, but the suggestion of it in one scene combined with the physical closeness of the actors may be a little over the top and could make some viewers, both young and old, uncomfortable.

From there on, The Song presents a great message polluted by content (drugs, alcohol, illicit sex, and a small amount of violence). I realize some content is necessary to portray, in a way our culture will understand, the ugliness of sin and the devastation it causes. However, the movie spends too much time on sin and not enough on redemption. The film does a great job of portraying the reality of sin as ugly, dirty, and distasteful – even sickening – but a little of that goes a long way.

Song 1409900110-Rose-and-Jed-vineyard_224_160_75_c1The producers of The Song tout it as a movie that will save marriages, but I don’t see how that will happen with the movie alone. For instance, a person could decide to try living like Jed did, knowing that Jed found it empty, but decide he (or she) could receive forgiveness in the end if sin didn’t satisfy. I don’t think the movie presents this idea, but someone determined to live for self could come to the conclusion “I can do what I want and ask for forgiveness later.”

On the other hand, a person in the middle of an extramarital relationship might feel convicted by the movie and repent. I am a firm believer in the power of Scripture to change lives, and I know the verses quoted throughout the film will not return void but will accomplish what God desires (Isaiah 55:11). Extra study materials are available to supplement the film for couples and church groups. I haven’t seen the materials, but I assume they would help couples understand biblical marriage and apply God’s principles to their relationships.

Compared to secular movies, television, and other entertainment, the portrayal of sin in The Song is very tame. However, as Christians, we dare not compare ourselves or our works with those of the world. Our standard is the Word of God, and God’s call to holiness should be our inspiration.song 1409900112-Family_224_160_75_c1

What does God’s Word say about exposure to evil? One verse that immediately comes to mind is Psalm 101:3-4:

I will set no worthless thing before my eyes;
 I hate the work of those who fall away;
 It shall not fasten its grip on me.

A perverse heart shall depart from me; 
I will know no evil (NASB).

Also Ephesians 5:11–13:

Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light (NASB).

If we are not even to speak of the evil things done in secret, should we be watching them on screen? Things we see with our eyes stick with us longer than things we hear. Some scenes from life and film never fade from our memories. If something is set to music, it’s seared into our brains – the reason most of us can sing along with commercials or can learn the words to songs we hear without trying to memorize them.

So how do we Song 1409890557-DAN_0292_1400_927_75find a balance and where do we draw the line when faith-based entertainment portrays evil in a realistic way? Heritage of Truth believes that, although The Song has a fantastic, biblical message, it carries the portrayal of evil a bit too far and spends too much time on it. If that portrayal had been toned down, we could have recommended this movie without reservation. We believe The Song will have a good impact on many people, but we must warn our audience about the content. I definitely would not recommend it for immature teens or children.

The main message of The Song is that true redemption and freedom doesn’t come from fame, fortune, or self-indulgence. It comes only through accepting the love and hope that God has given us in His only Son Jesus Christ. We pray that this is the message moviegoers receive from The Song.

Jeanne Dennis, HeritageofTruth.com

Copyright © Jeanne G. Dennis