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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Left Behind is the bigger-budget reboot of 2000's indie hit Left Behind: The Movie about the Rapture, in which all of the world's good people are whisked away to heaven, leaving the rest behind. There's some general chaos, shouting, pushing, shoving, and looting, as well as a plane crash scene. There's no language or sex, but the main character seems about to have an affair, and women are shown in somewhat sexy outfits. A minor character is shown to be a drug addict; she removes a hidden stash, remembers a "bad trip," and has track marks on her arms. For those who don't come to the film already buying into the story, the message is muddled and somewhat hopeless, and the presentation is awkward. Many fans of the series (in addition to the previous movie, there are several best-selling books) will likely flock to it, unless they have an issue with Nicolas Cage in the lead role.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Chloe Steele (Cassi Thomson) hasn't been home from college in a while because her mom (Lea Thompson) has gotten very religious, and things are awkward. Chloe visits for her dad Ray's birthday, but Ray (Nicolas Cage), an airline pilot, has agreed to fly to London. Chloe finds him at the airport and fears that he's having an affair with a pretty flight attendant (Nicky Whelan). She also meets a star TV reporter, Buck Williams (Chad Michael Murray), who's on her father's flight and who lends her a sympathetic ear. But then millions of people, including all children, suddenly disappear, sending the world into a panic. Chloe tries to find her brother and her mom, while Ray must single-handedly get his aircraft safely on the ground.
Is it any good?
Directed by legendary stuntman Vic Armstrong, LEFT BEHIND is a bigger-budget but subpar reboot of the faith-based indie hit from 2000, itself based on a series of best-selling novels. Everything revolves around the simultaneous fear of -- and desire for -- The Rapture. But the movie's crucial flaw is that the filmmakers want to create sympathetic characters out of those who were deemed sinners and thus not delivered to God. Viewers are supposed to like them but not want to be like them (even though they all fly first class).
Aside from that faulty conceit, the movie, on a pure thriller level, is a massive collection of awkward, poorly written character moments and supposedly spectacular set pieces that are stretched far too thin. The big moment is over in just a few seconds, and the rest is all a bad disaster film. Certainly there are profound, spiritual movies in the world and movies that could enhance your faith, but Left Behind preaches only to the converted.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Left Behind's violence. How did it affect you? How much is shown, and how much is implied? How skillfully does the movie convey the sense of scale of this event?
What's the movie's message? Does it inspire faith or spirituality? Is it a warning?
Are the characters sympathetic, even though they were left behind? What are their faults? Can they be forgiven?
- In theaters: October 3, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: January 6, 2015
- Cast: Nicolas Cage, Chad Michael Murray, Cassi Thomson
- Director: Vic Armstrong
- Studios: Freestyle Releasing, eOne Entertainment
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 110 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some thematic elements, violence/peril and brief drug content
For kids who love thrills
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.