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Reviews for Left Behind are in, and the critics are far from rapturous. Based on the Christian bestseller about the end of the world (previously adapted as a straight-to-DVD film starring Kirk Cameron), the new movie stars Nicolas Cage as adulterous pilot Rayford Steele and Cassi Thomson as his atheist teenage daughter Chloe. When the End Times begin, half the population vanishes as the film’s protagonists watch in horror — a phrase that would also seem to describe the experience of several film writers. Here are the most scathing highlights about Left Behind, which is shaping up to be one of the worst-reviewed movies of the year.
“The rapture won’t come soon enough for the unfortunate souls forced to suffer through Left Behind.” —The Hollywood Reporter
“Left Behind returns at a time when there’s been an increase in similar God-fearing fare in theaters, as well as an interest in religious apocalypse stories, thanks to HBO’s The Leftovers. It’s a concept full of inherent drama that, if done well, could explore humanity’s faith and foibles in an enlightening fashion. This is not that movie.” —USA Today
“Had the filmmakers embraced even a little bit of the plentiful camp value here, Left Behind at least could have been entertaining. As it stands, only the cheeky marketing person who thought to quote Satan in the film’s ads seems to have really understood what this pic’s proper tone should have been.” —Variety
“Where the 2000 Left Behind had a global reach and dealt extensively with the rise of the Antichrist, he’s nowhere to be found in this iteration of the deathless series. Perhaps he was too cheap to buy a plane ticket. This lends the movie an unintentionally theatrical air that’s only heightened by performances pitched anywhere from sleepy to frothing-at-the-mouth.” —The Dissolve
“One need not be a Godless heathen to find fault in Left Behind’s message-delivery system: It’s a fire-and-brimstone sermon wrapped in the tissue of a bad disaster thriller — a criticism that’s dogged the book series since its earliest installments. But this adaptation is so broad, cartoonish, and ineptly made that harping on its theological methods seems like overkill; even diehard devotees of the franchise may crack up when, say, Rayford finally figures out what’s going on by flipping through the personal calendar of one of the departed — and then breaking down into sobs when he finds the words BIBLE STUDY scrawled ominously on an open page.” —AV Club
“The extras zig this way and zag that way, waving their arms about and generally behaving as if they’re running an obstacle course on a reality competition show. They are distractingly bad. As is just about everything else about this film, from the directing to the not-so-special effects to the editing to the acting to the craft services. (Apologies for the gratuitous shot at the craft services. For all I know they were first-rate.)” —The Chicago Sun Times
“Ultimately, just like all of those empty articles of clothing left behind by Jesus’ return, Left Behind is a lifeless film, void of anything remotely human, God-like, or authentic, just a terrible Christian movie starring Nicolas Cage.” —The Daily Beast
“The running time is spent avoiding religion to such a loony extent that no one explains that this mass vanishing is God’s work until the film is nearly over. It’s almost as though screenwriters Paul Lalonde and John Patus believe people might buy a ticket to Left Behind and not know the twist, like someone sitting down to watch Godzilla and being shocked by the entrance of a giant lizard.” —The Village Voice
“On Chloe’s long post-Rapture walk to nowhere, she’s nearly hit by a sedan, a giant potted plant, a propeller jet, a man being blown out of a street-level shop, and a small school bus careering off of a bridge. Rayford, meanwhile, is in the air, trying to control the anarchy on the plane, land it, and get back to his daughter. This all sounds more fun than it is. Though he has a few moments of Cageian oddness, for the most part, he’s disappointingly subdued and only slightly more watchable than everyone else. ”Let it burn, see what’s left,” his character says at one point. Cage might as well be talking about his career.” —EW
Watch the trailer below: