The new trailer for one of a handful of new Nicolas Cage movies begins with an image of innocence, a slow-motion shot of a carousel. It is followed by establishing shots of an expansive church. Then we see Nicolas Cage arriving on an airstrip.
For a moment I thought somebody had redone FACE/OFF.
LEFT BEHIND is a remake of the 2000 film called LEFT BEHIND: THE MOVIE, which was in turn based on a series of sixteen novels concerned with the Biblical Rapture. These books cleaned up in the Christian market, at a time when everyone was antsy about the upcoming millenium and whether we’d even survive. You can never go broke exploiting the fears of scared people. Nowadays movies about the Rapture are open to interpretation by those irreverent, fart-lighting Jews, but in the pre-2000 era, this subject could only be treated with solemnity. The first LEFT BEHIND movie was part of a trilogy starring mulleted-teen-idol-turned-homophobic-evangelist Kirk Cameron. Poor Lou Gossett Jr. was roped into the third film, which IMDb reports was directed by Craig R. Baxley, who previously made ACTION JACKSON, DARK ANGEL, and STONE COLD. In other words, I need to see that right now.
Now the LEFT BEHIND franchise is being “rebooted” with Nicolas Cage in the lead, to much controversy. LEFT BEHIND fans and purists have been apoplectic about Kirk Cameron being replaced by such an inventive, sly, and infinitely more talented actor. To make matters worse, Edgar Wright reportedly left the project over creative differences, so the internet has been burning up with furious debate.
Unlike the Kirk Cameron version of LEFT BEHIND, the Antichrist is, sadly, not a supporting character in the new film. Also absent is modern-day teen idol Ashley Tisdale, who had been cast in a major role but who dropped out of the production early on. It is unclear as to why, but one could fairly theorize it’s because, like THIS IS THE END star James Franco and myself, for the target audience she shares certain ethnic disadvantages (Jewish mother).
Cage’s actual supporting cast in LEFT BEHIND includes an eccentric mix of beloved veterans (Lea Thompson, who already survived one HOWARD THE DUCK), Australian ingénues (Cassi Thomson, Nicky Whelan), bland millenials (Chad Michael Murray and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks), ubiquitous that-guys (Han Soto), Olympians (Lolo Jones), and dwarves (Martin Klebba, the stuntman and actor best known for the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movies.) Cage is also supported by one of his funnier hairdos in some time. However.
Two names behind the scenes of the new LEFT BEHIND movie fascinate me: Vic Armstrong and Jack N. Green. Armstrong is one of the pre-eminent stuntmen in the film industry, having doubled for Harrison Ford on the first three INDIANA JONES movies and for Christopher Reeve on the first two SUPERMAN movies. As a second unit director, his long list of credits are astonishing (according to Wikipedia, he directed the opening scene of TERMINATOR 2, you know, the one where a Terminator steps on a human skull.) And Jack Green is one of the industry’s finest cinematographers; a longtime Clint Eastwood crew member, he shot UNFORGIVEN, which I have gone on record as saying has “my favorite look of any movie ever.” All of which is to raise the question…
…Is there a chance 2014’s LEFT BEHIND could be any good?
It should be clear by now I’m willing to do the research on this subject, so I’ll let you know my answer to that question on October 3rd.
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