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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to His little ones through you in His name by His Word
(2005), PG-13 [PG-13*] (1hr 32min)
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(While the Scriptural references are certainly not subjective, my commentary may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)
Production (US): Cloud Ten Pictures, Columbia Pictures Corporation
Distribution (US): Columbia Pictures, Sony Entertainment, Cloud Ten Pictures, Sony Home Entertainment
Director(s): Chris Baxley
Producer(s): Peter LaLonde, Paul LaLonde, Andre Van Heerden, Nicholas Tabarrok
Written by: Jerry B. Jenkins, Reverend Tim LaHaye
Screenplay: Paul Lalonde, Peter Lalonde, André van Heerden
Cinematography/Camera: David Connell
Music: Gary Chang
Film Editing: Sonny Baskin
Casting: Allison Cowitt, Mike Fenton, Lisa Parasyn
Production Design: Rupert Lazarus
Art Direction: Jon P. Goulding
Viewed on: Screener's DVD
Left Behind: World at War (Left Behind III) by Cloud Ten Pictures' is based on the last part of the book Tribulation Force by Rev. Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. It is a faith-based end time political thriller film. This film, scheduled for opening October 21, 2005, is not going to open in theaters, just in churches and other Christian service groups (for more information see Church Theatrical Release). By personal request of Peter LaLonde, co-CEO of Cloud Ten Pictures International, I agreed to prepare a pre-release CAP analysis of it. This analysis was prepared as a free service to help pastors, other Christian leaders and parents make a determination of the fitness of the film prior to viewing it. Security is so tight on this film that delivery of the screener's disk to me was not permitted by common carriers. A special courier was dispatched to hand-deliver a screener's disk to my home who stayed until viewing was complete. I have no word yet on whether this movie will eventually be released in theaters or on DVD/VHS.
First, a little background.
Eighteen months ago in Left Behind: The Movie, the world was devastated by a disaster of global proportion such as the world had never seen. One hundred forty two million three hundred and eighty thousand people vanished, including every non-teen child. Chaos and turmoil festered in every shadow and corner of the globe. Ruin, theft, murder, crime and suicide became the norm. Everywhere. Famine was growing rampant. The Rapture had come to pass. All who had accepted Jesus as Lord and resurrected Savior whose Sacrifice paid the price of our sins were lifted up into Heaven for an eternity of Life in Paradise. All who had not accepted Jesus were ... left behind.
Among those left behind were four focal characters: Cameron "Buck" Williams (Kirk Cameron), a highly popular and trusted international journalist for Global News Network (GNN); adulterous airline pilot Captain Rayford Steele (Brad Johnson); Ray's rebellious and disrespectful nose-ring college student daughter Chloe (Janaya Stephens); Pastor Bruce Barnes who had been pretending all along about his faith in Jesus. Each of these key players accepted Christ as Lord and resurrected Savior after the Rapture. By common interests and events that brought them together, these four characters began to unite to fight what was to come.
One man emerged who seemed to have all the answers. Nicolae Carpathia (Gordon Currie), a charismatic and suave leader with vision quietly stepped forward with a message of peace and unity through a global one-world government. Carpathia began to unite and rebuild the shattered world. And to help bolster his image of love and leadership, Carpathia "tricked" the world-wide respected Buck Williams into being the new Media Liaison for Carpathia's new Global Community.
Rapidly the world fell deeper and deeper into chaos, conflict and monetary collapse. Through the Scriptural investigations of Pastor Barnes, it became clear that Carpathia was indeed the antiChrist. By appropriating through murder and evil power the world-saving Eden formula which was able to grow grain even in frozen tundra, Carpathia established ten rulers to control the world's food supply. In the face of world-wide food shortages, coercion gave Carpathia complete control of the world. As UN Secretary General, Carpathia gave ten delegates ("ten crowns" [Rev. 13:1]) supreme authority over their regions with himself as supreme ruler.
In Left Behind II: Tribulation Force, Carpathia steadily became known as the ruler of the world, bringing peace and prosperity out of ruin. Buck, Ray, Pastor Barnes and Chloe organized to form the Tribulation Force dedicated to sharing God's Word about Salvation with all who were left behind and to spread the truth about Carpathia.
While all these things were happening, one wholesome romance began and an unwholesome romance ended. The wholesome romance was between Buck and Chloe. The unwholesome romance that ended was the adulterous affair between Ray and one of his flight attendants, Hattie Durham (Chelsea Noble, Kirk Cameron's actual wife). However, while Ray's heart for the adulterous relationship ended after discovering Jesus, Hattie, who is yet to know Jesus, was not about to let it end. Hattie also becomes special assistant to Carpathia.
On to Left Behind: World at War.
Now, eighteen months later, Carpathia is solidly established as the ruler of the world. So promising and appealing is Carpathia's leadership that in a flurry of political maneuvers all 172 countries of the world joined the Global Community, including the U.S. at the dictate of President Gerald Fitzhugh (Louis Gossett, Jr.).
Fitzhugh may be amiable with Carpathia's seduction of a world already beaten into submission by the hardship, famine and conflict predicted by the Books of Daniel and Revelation, but there are factions who would have Carpathia bought down ... hard.
Among those factions were the non faith-based Militia who were out to end Carpathia's regime and the Tribulation Force. Fitzhugh is at war with both factions. Special associate of the President is Carolyn Miller (Jessica Steen - prosecuting attorney Victoria Thorne from Judgment). Miller is a key member of and spy for the Militia as she stands beside Fitzhugh. As a lead role in Judgment Steen was viciously convincing as an agent of Satan but not so convincing in a support role in this Left Behind: World at War.
After an attempt on his life that cost the life of Vice President John Mallory (Charles Martin Smith) and others, Fitzhugh was not so sure Carpathia's scheme was so noble after all. Especially since Mallory had revealed to Fitzhugh a likely plot of the Global Community to destroy the American government, which was apparently the last bastion of individual freedom.
In addition to Buck and Carpathia, back in the fray are most of the core group from Left Behind: The Movie and Left Behind II: Tribulation Force.
Captain Rayford Steele, who lost his wife Irene and son Raymie to the Rapture, is back as the pilot of Carpathia's GC1, Carpathia's equivalent to Air Force One from Left Behind II, a gift to Carpathia from the United States. In this episode Ray gets married again, this time to Amanda White played by Laura Catalano who is one of the most successful actresses I've seen at portraying personal strength through humility and compassion -- a talent rather atypical of most of Hollywood productions. And so does Buck get married ... to Chloe whose rebellious, disrespectful attitude toward her father becomes one of love and respect since she, too, accepted Jesus as Lord and resurrected Savior. The two pair are married by Pastor Bruce Barnes in a trashed building. Barnes is now played by Arnold Pinnock instead of Clarence Gilyard of Texas Ranger fame. Pastor Barnes later becomes one of thousands who die due to a genocidal virus spread by Carpathia and company.
About that spread of a virus in the story. In it is an item of glittering cleverness of the writers which I will not reveal. Recall that Satan will kill every Christian he can during Tribulation. The technique used to fulfill that prophesy is suggestive of the sinister cleverness of the antiChrist to selectively target the Christians from the rest of the world's population. I will tell you the vehicle of delivering the virus targeted at the new post-Tribulation Christian community was not water or air. Such a vehicle would deliver death to all who drink and breath, not just Word-believing, Jesus-loving Christians.
Hattie Durham, though not part of the Tribulation Force, is still personal assistant to Carpathia but is now one of Carpathia's many paramours as the story is told. Hattie is now with child. Not Ray's child but Carpathia's child -- the child of the antiChrist. I suspect the film would have been just as powerful without this device and without Durham coming on to Ray ... again. [Mark 7:21, Gal. 5:19, Hebr. 13:4]. The Passion of the Christ portrayed no sexual immorality whatsoever and is the most powerful film ever made. The similarly powerful Left Behind: World at War film could have been just as powerful as it is without it. But that is just my opinion.
I will reveal no more of the plot or story. My "job" is to tell you not so much about the story but of the content in hopes you might be in a better position to make an informed moral decision whether to show it in your church or other Christian function as permitted by Cloud Ten Pictures' controls.
This episode of the phenomenally successful Left Behind book-to-screen series eloquently sets the stage for more. One of the features of this film is that it does not depend a great deal on knowledge of either of the two previous Left Behind films. But the Buck Williams character in this Left Behind: World at War seems more like a support character than a key player. If there is to be another Left Behind film, let us hope there is a little more "bang" for the Buck.
The bottom line: Left Behind: World at War is a perfect installment in the globally-embraced and growing Left Behind film series. It left me wanting and waiting for more. Of the story anyway. But it has teeth. It is a PG-13 film and with a final score of 63 it rightfully earned its place in the PG-13 realm. Not the R-13 realm fortunately in which more than half of Hollywood's PG-13 films belong, but definitely the PG-13 realm.
The scoring distribution earned by Left Behind: Word at War created a pattern that deserves your attention prior to deciding whether this film is fit for your intent.
The film earned a score of zero out of a starting 100 points, the lowest score possible, in Wanton Violence/Crime due to. e.g., gunfire, killing, abduction, terroristic violence and bullets passing through a body with no effect. A score of 35 out of 100 in Murder/Suicide was earned by the film due to multiple murders and a sacrificial suicide. In two of the six CAP investigation areas, in Wanton Violence/Crime and Murder/Suicide, Left Behind: World at War was solidly equivalent to many R-rated films. [Prov. 13:2, Ps. 37:37]
In keeping with its PG-13 rating, the film earned a score of 57 out of 100 in the Offense to God investigation area due to the portrayal of evil power and of the ways of the antiChrist. [Ps. 141:4] While these matters are indeed intrinsic to the story, you deserve to know about them prior to making a decision about the film's fitness.
However, Left Behind: World at War earned scores clearly equivalent to most G-rated films in each of the Impudence/Hate, Drugs/Alcohol and Sexual Immorality investigation areas.
Though demonstrations of sin in film are negatively influential [1 Cor. 15:33], they are typically believed by the writers to be necessary to the plot. Indeed they may be. Jesus told stories of sin but He never demonstrated any sin in any story for any reason. Film actors/actresses cannot make that claim. Being "necessary" to the plot does not excuse implanting in a viewer sinful thoughts and behavioral templates.
In any case, it is not my "job" to decide for you what is acceptable for your viewers or yourself. That is God's job. And yours. In that order. We just tell you what is there using His Word as our "yardstick" so you might be in a better position to make an informed moral decision on your own whether a film is fit for your intended audience. Our policy is to let Hollywood (or Cloud Ten Pictures) make anything they wish. But as long as what is made teaches and/or causes our youth to sin, either in deed or thought, I will have something to say about it. Boldly. Unashamedly.
Further, though Left Behind: World at War is not by any means the same moral caliber as most "Hollywood" films and though Cloud Ten Pictures clearly has a different purpose, Left Behind: World at War is a film nonetheless. It, being at least equal in quality to Hollywood's high wattage mega-buck productions, has the same power of influencing the viewer as Hollywood films. The images and portrayal of sin in Cloud Ten Pictures' films such as murder, killing, sexually immoral deeds, etc. can have as much impact on the viewer as Hollywood films. And a noble destination does not excuse an ignoble path.
Also please remember that this Summary/Commentary section is precisely that. A summary in commentary format. It can be and sometimes is subjective. However, the Findings/Scoring section, the heart of the CAP analysis model, is completely objective to His Word and could not care less about my personal opinion. Please read the BEFORE You Read On... link above to better understand what I have tried to tell you. Though it is written to address Hollywood films I suspect the caliber of our readers is quite enough to gather from it the necessary information as applicable to this Cloud Ten Pictures production.
No monies were received for this service to Cloud Ten Pictures, pastors and other Christian leaders. Further, the CAP Ministry has no vested interest in Cloud Ten Pictures.
If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ] or bold. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.
***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
(The objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary/
Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
Sexual Immorality (S)
Offense to God (O)
|NOTE: The CAP Analysis Model makes no scoring allowances for trumped-up "messages" to excuse or for manufacturing of justification for aberrant behavior or imagery, or for camouflaging such ignominy with "redeeming" programming. Disguising sinful behavior in a theme plot does not excuse the sinful behavior of either the one who is drawing pleasure or example from the sinful display or the practitioners demonstrating the sinful behavior. This is NOT a movie review service. It is a movie analysis service to parents and grandparents to tell them the truth about movies using the Truth.|
|"There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our nearly seven years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.|
Thank you for visiting us and may God bless you. Prayerfully, we will provide you with some of the most revealing commentary and investigative reporting you have ever read. |
In the name of Jesus:
Lord, Master, Teacher, Savior, God.
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