Three brief observations:
First, several reviewers are trying to defend it with phrases such as “not nearly as bad as the reviews would have you believe.”
Second, NIcolas Cage is one of the best parts of the film. However, Cage and Chad Michael Murray (last seen helping own the Marvel miniseries Agent Carter) escape the cinematic apocalypse but only as if through fire.
Third, the movie is not bad just because it’s based on what many critics argue are poorly written books (that’s another issue) or poorly made end-times theology (also another issue). The movie is worse because it cannot even begin to approach the potential apocalyptic awesomeness that the infamously 12-volume Left Behind series (flaws and all) was always building toward.
Even if you see or support the Evangelical Cinematic Universe only to “use” the products “for evangelism,” Left Behind fails.
After seeing the film I concluded this at Christ and Pop Culture:
Any adaptation of the novels could have been sincere about the series’ evangelical themes and its chosen genre, an accessible potboiler thriller. But the Left Behind movie had another aim: to sell itself. And not even as a movie, but as rapture-insurance. To this end, the film forsook the novel’s plot and characters, rejected actual evangelism and any inspired vision of storytelling as mimicking God’s creative act, and sold its own soul for a bowl of cinematic pottage.
The book’s opening alludes to wars and rumors of wars, indicating a world ready for the end times. The movie bizarrely skips all that, showing instead a sweet little world in which even a Christianity-hating big sister takes her kid brother to a mall. So why does God bust in to ruin everything with the rapture? Only after this event do people actually start screaming and looting. Movie-Left Behind asks me to believe this nice world actually exists while also believing that this world is overdue for apocalypse.2
If you dare, head over to Netflix, start up Left Behind and possibly fashion the rules for a new drinking game. But don’t forget to weep first for the missed opportunity — and not just a missed Evangelism Opportunity™.
Meanwhile, I won’t shut up on SpecFaith about Left Behind. Explore more with the series Twelve Reasons Why the ‘Left Behind’ Series is Actually Awesome. Or consider a compare/contrast between Left Behind novels and its bestseller-list competitor the Harry Potter series in The Magical Worlds of ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Left Behind’. On CAPC I also looked back on my ‘Left Behind’ series experiences — pre-, mid-, and post-fandom.