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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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...]

How the movie Heaven Is for Real contradicts the book

Is Heaven Is for Real a “Christian movie”?

The question may seem like a no-brainer, since the film is based on a best-selling Christian book and there has been a lot of talk in the media about the Christian faith of writer-director Randall Wallace and some of the film’s producers, including megachurch leader T.D. Jakes and studio executive DeVon Franklin.

But the film is still a product of corporate Hollywood, and as such, it alters the story in ways that are designed to appeal to a mass audience. The film thus lacks the authenticity of independent Christian films like, say, God’s Not Dead.

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Quick updates on The Leftovers and the Left Behind reboot

The Rapture stories told by Christians tend to fall into one of two camps: they are either intended to scare the reader or viewer into becoming a Christian, so that he or she will qualify for the Rapture and be spared the terrors of life under the Antichrist; or they are intended to give Christians a chance to do some tribal chest-thumping, as the characters who somehow become Christian after the Rapture actively do what they can to undermine the Antichrist and his evil regime.

Rarely do these stories actively try to empathize with the people who are “left behind” when the Rapture happens. (One of the reasons I love the Daniel Amos song ‘Lady Goodbye’ is because it does try to imagine what that experience would be like.) Lately, however, storytellers of a less obviously religious bent have begun to fill that gap.

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