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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LaHaye hated the first Left Behind film, but loves the reboot

The Facebook page for the upcoming Left Behind reboot announced the other day that Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, who co-wrote the original series of novels, recently saw a rough cut of the film and gave it “two enthusiastic thumbs up”.

A bit of background: LaHaye actually sued the makers of the original trilogy (which went straight-to-video between 2000 and 2005, though the first film also received a theatrical release in 2001), claiming that he had sold the film rights on the condition that the film be produced a major studio, with top-of-the-line stars, and released to theatres in late 1999 so as to capitalize on the Y2K craze.

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The Left Behind remake gets a poster.

No real news here, per se. We still don’t know who will play the Antichrist — or, come to that, whether the Antichrist will even appear in this reboot. (See Batman Begins, Casino Royale and The Amazing Spider-Man for examples of how franchise reboots sometimes put off re-introducing certain key characters until they get their own sequels.) But, thanks to ComingSoon.net, we do have a poster that shows Nicolas Cage standing next to a downed airplane (not the one flown by his character, presumably), and it does look more like a movie poster than the straight-to-video images that were created for the original trilogy. If only it didn’t look so reminiscent of Knowing (2009), yet another apocalyptic Nicolas Cage movie that featured an airplane crash and a fair bit of biblical imagery. Not that there’s anything wrong with Knowing, per se; but the similarity does make the Left Behind reboot look just that much more redundant.

An addition to the Left Behind family.

Bad news, everyone. It looks like Nicolas Cage will not be playing the Antichrist in the upcoming Left Behind reboot. Instead, he will be playing Rayford Steele, the pilot with the absurdly masculine name who was played in the original trilogy by Brad Johnson.

The news comes to us courtesy of Deadline.com, which also reports that former High School Musical co-star Ashley Tisdale will be playing Steele’s daughter Chloe, who was played in the original trilogy by Janaya Stephens.

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The Left Behind reboot lands another lead actor

The world survived the end of the Mayan calendar yesterday, so we can now turn our attention to other prophecies and predictions regarding the end of the age. One of the most prominent is the premillenial dispensationalism that lies behind the Left Behind franchise, and, right on cue, it was revealed today that the producers of those films — who are currently in the midst of re-booting the series — are talking to Chad Michael Murray about playing Cameron “Buck” Williams, a part that was played in the original trilogy by Kirk Cameron.

Most of Murray’s work has been in television, so I am unfamiliar with nearly all of it, though apparently he was in the 2003 remake of Freaky Friday. I note, however, that this is not his first end-times movie; he was also in Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 (2001) as the teenaged younger brother of the Antichrist; Murray’s character eventually grows up to become the American president, as played by Michael Biehn, while the Antichrist, of course, grows up to be played by Michael York, who had starred in the earlier Omega Code (1999).

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Review: Knowing (dir. Alex Proyas, 2009)

If you’ve seen any of the trailers, then you’ll probably have a good idea what to expect from the first hour or so of Knowing, the latest mind-bending bit of speculative fiction from Alex Proyas (Dark City, I Robot). But even that first hour has its surprises, and after that, the film veers in directions that go far beyond anything you might have expected — directions that will be all the more awe-inspiring the less you know going into the theater.

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