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Instead of talking about “Apocalypse 2: Revelation”, which is a mildly entertaining film at best, let me dabble in this growing genre called Christian Movies. I will admit that I am by no means an expert on the subject, but from what I can glean, Christian Movies started gathering steam in the late ’90s, with the “Left Behind” franchise, and before that, the “Apocalypse” series (of which “Revelation” is the second part of). You could also add “Joshua” to the list, although it’s a completely different movie, storyline-wise.
The one thing all of these films have in common is, of course, the Bible. “Left Behind” and “Apocalypse” focused on an “end of the world” scenario that uses the rapture as their central piece. For those who don’t know, the rapture is an event when God takes all the “believers” to Heaven, and leaves the rest of us to rot on Earth. Post-rapture, the Anti-Christ is supposed to appear and unite the world under one banner of peace, but of course he’s got sinister motives. The “Left Behind” movies used the real-life U.N. as the source of evil, while the “Apocalypse” series used a fictional world organization called O.N.E.
Both franchises had an Anti-Christ figure rising to power in their respective world organizations, and both had lowly mortals running an underground resistance while the world is swept up in a sudden rise in violent anti-Christianity feelings and a Gestapo regime on the prowl for martyrs. Kirk Cameron headlines “Left Behind” as the resistance leader, while the “Apocalypse” movies seem to take another approach. The series uses two recurring characters, Leigh Lewis as reporter turned resistance leader, and Nick Mancuso as the Anti-Christ, to host a revolving leading cast that changes with each installment.
The two franchises are essentially identical, and in fact they even share the same writers. Siblings Peter and Paul Lalonde are regular screenwriters for both franchises, a fact that is made even more awkward because the franchises are being produced and released simultaneously. As I type this, “Apocalypse” has released a 4th installment, and “Left Behind” is working on parts 3 and 4. Of the two series, it’s obvious the folks at “Left Behind” have a more coherent, and better, product. While the original “Left Behind” was a bit lacking, “Left Behind 2″ grew by leaps and bounds. The screenplay was more focused, the characters better examined, and the acting much stronger.
Another trademark of Christian Movies, at least for the moment, is their relatively small budget. Although I don’t know the exact numbers, I’m willing to bet we’re not talking about tens of millions here. A million, maybe two, would be my best guess, even though I’m inclined to believe even that guess is a bit much. It’s also interesting to note that, for the most part, Christian Movies have been attacked for being too “preachy”. This seems to be a rather silly complaint, and easily traced back to an inherent bias against all things Christian. Isn’t it interesting that the people who declare themselves to be the most open-minded (by way of their disregard for all established religions) always seem to turn out to be the most close-minded (concerning said established religions)?
And now, back to our current movie.
“Apocalypse 2: Revelation” is not a very good movie. Lead Jeff Fahey pretty much sleepwalks through the whole film looking either stoned or very bored. Not having seen the first film in the series, I didn’t know enough about Leigh Lewis’ Helen Hannah to care about her, or understand why she’s doing what she’s doing. Ex-supermodel Carol Alt plays a blind woman, and Tony Nappo is the film’s only bright spot. Nappo plays the wheelchair-bound Willie, a computer hacker with a knack for cracking jokes at the most inopportune time. I would say that Nappo saves the film, only “Revelation” isn’t nearly good enough to deserve being saved.
As for Nick Mancuso, he shows up just long enough to embarrass himself. The direction by Andre van Heerden is too flat and lacks energy, which only adds to lead Jeff Fahey’s dead man walking impersonation. The screenplay by the Lalonde brothers is uninteresting, and it seems as if they might have used up all their good stuff for the “Left Behind” series.
If “Revelation” is any indication, I will most likely be skipping this series. One “Fight the Anti-Christ” franchise is more than enough for me, thank you very much.
Andre van Heerden (director) / Paul Lalonde, Peter Lalonde (screenplay)
CAST: Jeff Fahey …. Thorold Stone
Nick Mancuso …. Franco
Carol Alt …. Cindy Bolton
Tony Nappo …. Willie Spino