‘Left Behind’ Comes To Netflix

“Left Behind” is a disaster, but not for reasons you may think. Now you can see for yourself.
on May 6, 2015 · 5 comments
"1.3 stars" is an egregious overestimate of my response.

“1.3 stars” is an egregious overestimate of my response.

Left Behind1 is now available to stream on Netflix.

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.

  1. (2014), that is, the remake and not The One with Kirk Cameron.
  2. The Left Behind I Wish I’d Seen, E. Stephen Burnett at Christ and Pop Culture, Oct. 9, 2014.
E. Stephen Burnett explores fantastical stories for God’s glory as publisher of Lorehaven.com and its weekly Fantastical Truth podcast. He coauthored The Pop Culture Parent and creates other resources for fans and families, serving with his wife, Lacy, in their central Texas church. Stephen's first novel, a science-fiction adventure, launches in 2025 from Enclave Publishing.
  1. David James says:

    Completely agree with you E. Stephen on all points!

    I had not gone to the theater for this, and really wasn’t planning on watching it. When it came up on my TV when I was scrolling through the new stuff on Netflix I decided since I wasn’t doing anything else that particular night, and since I didn’t have to pay an extra penny for it, I’d see what they came up with.

    The things they got right were the things the previous film version was lacking on. Unfortunately, they then threw out everything the previous version had right.

    I said to myself, “so Chloe’s going to save the day” when they got off the phone at that one point near the end. Little did I realize just how true that was going to be and how God-awful it played out.

    This movie is not helping the impression people have about Christian movies. Indeed, I think it’s made it quite worse, and in a direction one would not have even thought a Christian movie could have done.

    Hated this movie.

  2. dmdutcher says:

    Well, to be fair and argue against point 3, the total budget for the movie was sixteen million. A disaster movie like 2012 cost 200 million five years ago. There are some movies done on that budget or less, like Skyline or Night Watch, but they tend to be more intimate disaster movies.

    What’s sort of odd now that I think of it…did anyone see The Remaning? The found-footage rapture film?

    • I appreciate the optimism — believe me, I tried it myself above and beyond what many Left Behind series critics would expect — but in this case the “special effects” were passable for what they were trying to do. Character development and even C-grade passing dialogue are much less expensive. And that was just awful all over.

      • dmdutcher says:

        Yeah, I figured. I think something like A Thief in the Night works, because even with it’s flaws it can evoke a camp sensibility. But a lot of rapture films are bad enough where they can’t even do that. Shades of Syfy original movies.

  3. Lisa says:

    I have to say I’m not really interested in watching the movie. I really didn’t like the book (s)…I got half way through book one and I just couldn’t go on. So, although I was interested to see how “Hollywood” was going to make this movie, I think I will skip it. Thanks for the heads up!  🙂

What say you?