Tag Archives: Lea Thompson

Movie Review: Left Behind (2014)

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Maybe the end of the world really is upon us. Because there is no other explanation for how a film like Left Behind not just got made, but actually received a cinematic release. The only thing that made sense about the film is that it stars Nicholas “I’ll do anything” Cage.

Left Behind is like that Damon Lindelof TV show The Leftover, except it is directed by a career stuntman who doubled for Harrison Ford in the Indiana Jones movies. 

The story goes like this: one day, all of a sudden, millions of people around the world disappear into thin air. Literally. All that’s left are their clothes and whatever’s on them. There’s an explanation for this, or at least a theory of the explanation, and it’s Biblical. Little did I know, Left Behind is a Christian movie about the end of the world, supposedly based on some obscure and utterly insane reading of the Bible. Even most Christians would agree that it is complete BS.

But that’s not the problem. There is nothing wrong with the type of movie it is or the premise per se — it’s the horrendous execution that makes Left Behind god-awful in any religion.

Although it’s about the end of the world, the movie centers on what happens on a flight from New York to London when the “disappearances” take place. Nicholas Cage plays a philandering pilot who dodges the birthday of his visiting daughter (Cassi Thomson) and spending time with his uber-religious wife (Lea Thompson) and young son so he could get naughty with a stewardess (Australia’s own Nicky Whelan). Also on the flight is a famous investigative reporter (Chad Michael Murray), who for some reason tried to hit on Cage’s daughter just before take-off. Also on the plane are — and I am not kidding here — a kind Muslim, a mean midget, and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks. None of them disappear, of course, because they’re not true believers (or at least in the right god).

Even putting all the sanctimonious religious stuff aside, Left Behind is still an abomination. The script feels like it’s written by aliens because none of the dialogue or reactions even resemble what a normal human would say or do. Just say your little brother disappears into thin air right in front of your eyes. All that’s left of him is his clothes. And you can see that the same thing has happened to a lot of people around you. So what’s the logical thing to do? Yes, that’s right: go to the hospital to look for him! I mean, just in case he miraculously slipped out of his clothes without you noticing and decided to go there for some reason. And that’s actually one of the more reasonable things that happens in the movie.

The characters are horrible. They’re either disgustingly unlikable or they’re so noble it’s cringeworthy. And they’re played by actors — famous or otherwise — giving the most atrocious performances of their lives. I understand the budget was only US$16 million, but the inside of the plane looked like it was made in someone’s living room. The special effects looked like they were taken from the cut scenes of a Playstation 1 game. And the ending — my god, the ending. Apparently there are more books in the series, but it’s obvious there aren’t going to be more movies, so I have no idea why it ended the way it did. Everything about it was just an unfathomable mess.

This is the kind of movie that gives religion a bad name. It’s the kind of movie that gives bad movies a bad name. Have you ever had a dream where everyone is acting all weird and nothing makes sense? Left Behind is that dream, but worse. It’s a goddamn nightmare.

0.5 stars out of 5

Movie Review: Vampire Academy (2014)

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I didn’t see the trailer and I barely saw the poster, but I knew just from the title that Vampire Academy, based on the bestselling book series, was likely going to be crap. Considering that it barely recovered 50% of its US$30 million budget and that it received scathing reviews from the critics, it’s likely that this will be the only one we get in the franchise. It is derivative and essentially a mishmash of Harry Potter and Twilight with a dash of Mean Girls (it’s directed by the same guy, Mark Waters) and/or Gossip Girl, but having said that, I don’t think it’s anywhere near as bad as it has been made out to be.

First of all, I just need to point out that Zoey Deutch, who plays the protagonist Rose Hathaway, is the real-life daughter of the legendary Le Thompson. Yes, Lea Thompson! Man I am getting old. Anyway, Rose Hathaway is a “Dhampir” one of three types of vampires in this story’s universe, and all they do is try and protect the “Moroi,” of which her best friend Lissa (Lucy Fry) is one. Who are they being protected from? The Strigoi, the evil vampires. Rose and Lissa run away on their own but are brought back to St. Vladimir’s Academy, the so-called Vampire Academy. It’s basically Hogwarts for vampires.

And yes, unfortunately there is an obligatory romance, between Zoey and her Dhampir instructor Dimitri, some Russian dude who is way too old for her. The romance doesn’t dominate, which is good, but the focus of the film is somewhat fuzzy. There are Hogwarts-like moments of the Moroi trying to learn magic, and there’s plenty of Gossip Girl bitchiness. It’s all a little tongue-in-cheek with direct Twilight references (like how vampires don’t shimmer, etc) and good for an occasional laugh or two.

But the lack of focus and originality does hurt Vampire Academy, which straddles uncomfortably between spoof and a legitimate teen story in its own right. I find it difficult for anyone who considers themselves a fan of any of the film’s inspirations (Twilight, Harry Potter, Mean Girls, etc) taking it seriously and may even be irked by the similarities. On the other hand, if you like to take the piss out of those films then you might enjoy some of the jokes, but apart from that there’s not much else to hold on to. The action is pretty standard and the plot twists and revelations range from predictable to “meh.” And none of the characters are genuinely likable. It’s about as close to an uninspired mishmash cash grab as you can imagine.

I was personally annoyed with the division of vampires into three categories so that the “good” and “bad” vampires are determined by their breed. I had the same problem with the zombie romance Warm Bodies, which had two types of zombies — it’s a trite and arbitrary design to help us connect and sympathize with monsters we identify as “bad”. Say what you want about Twilight, but at least vampires were vampires, and it was up to the individual whether they wanted to be good or evil.

Anyhoo, Vampire Academy is unoriginal, derivative and bland, but it’s not that bad. If you go in with low expectations and like jokes taking stabs at Twilight then you might accept it as passable entertainment.

2 stars out of 5