The Omega Code and the mainstreaming of Christian film

omegacodeThe always brilliant Darren Franich had a new article up at Entertainment Weekly over the weekend, in which he took a look at the movies of 1999 — once dubbed “the year that changed movies” by his bosses — and asked how well those films have stood the test of time.

That was the year when everyone thought The Matrix would take the place of Star Wars as a sci-fi myth for our times. That was the year when The Blair Witch Project invented the found-footage horror subgenre and proved the value of viral marketing campaigns. That was the year when young, hip directors like David Fincher, David O. Russell and Spike Jonze produced instant cult hits like Fight Club, Three Kings and Being John Malkovich, all of which came out in October of that year. And so on.

But there was another game-changer released in October 1999 that Franich doesn’t mention — a movie that may be pretty silly but still set a new precedent.

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First The Leftovers, now The Remaining: will audiences be tired of the Rapture by the time Left Behind comes out?

Rapture, Rapture everywhere! With The Leftovers almost finished its first season on HBO, it turns out we may have another Rapture story to tide us over until the Left Behind reboot comes out October 3. A couple of trailers for a movie called The Remaining, which opens September 5, have popped up on my radar, and you can see the newer, longer one at the top of this post.

The Remaining is produced by Affirm Films, the same “faith-based” branch of Sony Pictures that had a hand in Heaven Is for Real and Moms’ Night Out. The only actor I recognize is Alexa Vega, who starred in all four Spy Kids films as well as the later Robert Rodriguez films Machete Kills and Sin City: A Dame to Kill for.

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The Leftovers: “The birth of religion in the face of mystery.”

The Leftovers — the HBO series about a community coping with the Rapture-like disappearance of many of its members — premieres this coming weekend, and while I haven’t been scouring the internet for coverage of this series the way I sometimes do for films like Noah etc., a few things have popped up in my regular news feeds, including a new video, a new interview with the show’s creators, and a handful of reviews.

The interview, with novelist Tom Perrotta and series producer Damon Lindelof, is up at The Daily Beast, and it’s a bit of a frustrating read for me, as I find myself nodding along at some points and wanting to argue with the interviewees at others. Here’s a sample:
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Chaos reigns in new Left Behind teaser trailer

Here we go! The new Left Behind reboot has a teaser, which you can watch to the right. I’ll say this much: it looks more like a “real” movie than the original film that came out 14 years ago. You can watch the teaser for that film — which makes it look every bit like the straight-to-video production that it was — and see a new poster for the reboot below the jump.

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Damien is all grown up in TV follow-up to The Omen

The Exorcist spawned a series of sequels and prequels that couldn’t agree on where its characters had come from or where they were going. Now it seems the same fate has befallen The Omen, which was one of the other big supernatural horror movies from the 1970s.

The original film spawned two big-screen sequels that saw Damien Thorn, the boy destined to become the Antichrist, grow to adulthood. The third film ended with the Second Coming of Christ and the death of the Antichrist at the hands of his lover, but it was followed ten years later by a TV-movie in which we learned that Damien had sired a daughter in whom his creepiness lived on. (Meanwhile, the TV-movie also revealed, no doubt unintentionally, that the Second Coming had had absolutely zero effect on the world, and that things were still ticking along as though nothing had happened.)

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Will The Leftovers steal some of Left Behind’s thunder?

Fred Clark makes an interesting argument that hadn’t occurred to me before: If the secular Rapture drama The Leftovers premieres on HBO in June — just a little more than three months before the Christian Rapture reboot Left Behind comes to theatres in October — then the secular TV show could make it even more difficult than it already is for some people to take the Christian movie seriously.

Specifically, Clark zeroes in on the fact that The Leftovers is designed to get people asking the sorts of empathetic what-if questions that the Left Behind books and films have shown very little interest in. As Clark puts it: [Read more...]


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