Please don’t leave us behind with this movie

Left Behind’s existence is cause for non-believers to fear the Rapture. While believers are sucked into the heavens, the rest will be down here co-existing with this movie. It’s a terrifying fate.

In a few years, Left Behind will garner cult status, the type knowledgeable in-crowds currently flock to: the drudgery of internet-famous The Room or jokey homemade dud Birdemic. And to think Left Behind has the benefit of Nicolas Cage.

This is a remarkable film, utterly vain and judgmental. The snippy script plucks a number of anti-Christian cliches – the adulterer, the addict, the gambler, the Muslim – and seats them in first class with Rayford Steele (Cage) casually flying them (and his stewardess mistress) off to London.

Characters are defined by singular traits, more so than traditional disaster movies. However, most genre pictures are not this smug. Scripted with vile “told you so” mannerisms, Left Behind praises a higher power while relishing in the suffering of others for the enjoyment of a specific target audience. It’s a wonder why said demographic would root for the god-less Steele anyway, if only to satisfy their own belief systems. It’s not satirical – it’s demented.

But, Left Behind is also uproariously entertaining, failed filmmaking. The sheer audacity of the idea and contemptible execution (which never lets Cage have a genuine Nicolas Cage moment) is accidentally successful. Utterly blinded by its own incompetence, Left Behind is capable of accomplishing the rare feat of a movie so self-centered and narcissistic as to leisurely offend anyone not caught in its religious grip. That’s impressive.

Set aside the discouraging delivery and this remains a film of zero consequence. Tensions, including a small prop plane slamming into a parking lot, a crash of a clearly out of service bus, near in-flight collision, and impromptu runway landing, go nowhere. On the ground panic follows Steele’s vehemently anti-Christian daughter Chloe (Cassi Thompson), running amidst crowds of people aimlessly flailing their arms or looting televisions. Oddly, TVs are the only vanity item anyone seems to be taking.

Left Behind leaves in preparation for a sequel – more egotism celebrating anguish – which likely will never happen given the frosty critical reaction and box office failure. Without a follow-up, it leaves Left Behind rather crippled, a lonely and masturbatory non-spectacle which reveals nothing other than prejudice for anyone not in the same religious circles. [xrr rating=1/5 label=Movie]

Dramatic Cage doing dramatic Cage things @ 1:43:12

Oddly, Left Behind looks pleasing with plentiful color saturation and bright contrast. The end of the known world is kinda pretty, plus it offers firm black levels. That’s something. Filters do however give flesh tones an odd neon-esque hue and certain primaries are raised above normal. Reds are near the tipping point.

Persistent noise is an occasional intrusion, although rarely severe. Despite meager compression parameters, this disc from Entertainment One avoids any direct concern. Most of the issues are in the background, especially some hearty banding, although this could be the low budget green screen effects rather than encoding.

Detail is satisfactory and resolution sharp. Cinematography is uncommonly plain leading to the appearance of TV-level production values. There are no instances of focal tricks or special lighting schemes, leaving each shot consistently boring if resolved. Facial detail is tight and exteriors are hearty. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]

Left Behind has the single worst new release audio mix on this format and should be recalled. Dialog is often completely unintelligible with a center channel so overwhelmed by ambient effects and music, entire conversations are lost. Without subtitles, Left Behind would be unwatchable.

It’s worse. Not only is this an anemic Dolby Digital mix, when the track tries to play tricks – say separating dialog across the front soundstage – there are multiple instances where the directionality is completely wrong. There are moments where Left Behind is trying, say a fine enveloping effect inside the plane or the bustle of a crowded mall. However, those effects seems doubly overlaid into the center at twice the necessary volume. Even event moments seem eaten by this effect. The crash landing finale is offered no LFE support and panicked chatter is drowned out. Awful. [xrr rating=0/5 label=Audio]

We have another first. Left Behind carries both special AND bonus features. May as well have another menu labeled “extras” just because. A generic and overlong featurette churns through the requisite cornerstones of behind-the-scenes formalities without enthusiasm. Cast/crew interviews (including Nicolas Cage) run a half hour. A short interview with author Jerry Jenkins is separate as is a gallery.

Over in the “bonus” features, there are trailers and a handful of sub-one minute religious propaganda short films depicting potential incidents at the time of Rapture, as if those would be of greatest concern rather than the decades of endless fire and suffering to follow. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Special/Bonus]


Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.

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