I got the opportunity to check out the Left Behind remake this weekend. I had read the book series a number of years ago and really enjoyed it. That’s why, like many people, I was looking forward to the original movie that was made from the first book. And – unfortunately – was also greatly disappointed by the result.
First off, I am happy to report, that this effort is orders of magnitude better than the previous film. The casting was excellent, most of the characters were almost exactly as I had pictured them from the book. Nicolas Cage was actually the most physically dissimilar from the character in the book, but he nailed his portrayal of Rayford Steele. Rayford’s wife, Irene, is not – to my recollection – extensively portrayed in the book. Lea Thompson’s performance as Irene, the recent Christian convert and mother of Rayford’s children, not only is in keeping with the tenor of the story as intended in the book, but serves to deepen the background of the Steele family. So I was pleased with the addition of her storyline.
Chad Michael Murray turned in a very good portrayal of Buck Williams and Cassi Thomson’s rendering of Chloe Steele is – at times – stunning. Her heroics as the college student whose life has been turned upside down, during the latter half of the movie, kicks the old proverbial tail.
This movie had a far better budget than the previous film and it shows. Production quality, cinematography and scripting are all top notch. I would place the airline scenes up against any airline disaster movie I have seen. The writers did an excellent job of resisting the urge to lay the preaching on heavy and instead – wisely – allowed the story to make their points. That is often a problem with Christian movies, they are so eager to make their points that they fail to tell the story. Any good storyteller is familiar with the “show, don’t tell” adage. A good storyteller will allow the audience to learn about their characters and the world they live in through sights, sounds, smells and actions. In short, you paint them a picture and allow them to draw their own conclusions. If you have to “tell” them about what kind of person your character is or how she is feeling, you have failed as a storyteller. If a Christian storyteller, whether through book or film, has to beat you over the head with the point, he has failed in his mission. Then the movie comes across as preachy and the only people who end up enjoying it are those eager to agree with it. In short, the film-maker is preaching to the choir. This movie does not suffer from that problem.
I was pleased by this rendition and hope that it leads to the filming of the rest of the series.