Tag Archives: Nicky Whelan

Left Behind (2014) Review

Time: 110 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Nicolas Cage as Rayford Steele
Chad Michael Murray as Cameron “Buck” Williams
Cassi Thomson as Chloe Steele
Nicky Whelan as Hattie Durham
Jordin Sparks as Shasta Carvell
Lea Thompson as Irene Steele
Director: Vic Armstrong

The entire planet is thrown into mayhem when millions of people disappear without a trace — all that remains are their clothes and belongings. Unmanned vehicles crash and planes fall from the sky, overwhelming emergency forces and causing massive gridlock, riots and chaos. Airline pilot Ray Steele (Nicolas Cage) struggles to save the lives of the passengers who remain on his flight, while his daughter (Cassi Thomson) races to find her brother and mother (Lea Thompson), both of whom have disappeared.

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I’ll be honest, I went into Left Behind knowing full well it wasn’t going to be good. It’s a remake of an apparently already awful movie with Kirk Cameron of the same name, which is a religious apocalyptic movie surrounding The Rapture. And somehow this remake got Nicolas Cage attached to it. However I admit I had a bit of morbid curiosity going into it. It was even worse than I thought it would be, but not in a good way. While it’s not cringe inducingly horrendous, it is painfully dull and incompetently made.

Left Behind is a religious apocalypse movie, and though I don’t really know if there are any decent religious apocalypse based movies, but if they exist this certainly isn’t one of them. I’m not against religious movies or any movies that have religion as a big part of the story, it’s just that Left Behind flat out wasn’t good regardless. It has no subtlety in its themes, especially when it comes to religion. The early scenes of the movie has so much blatant foreshadowing, in the opening minutes it features two of the main characters talking about religion, and establishes their position on religion and all that. Despite all the supposedly horrific things that were happening with people disappearing and chaos happening, you never feel really anything, there’s not a single character or aspect that you grow attached to in any way. You don’t care about any of these characters, they are so two dimensional and boring. The dialogue is also really bad, flat, blatant and again when it comes to the ‘themes’, no subtlety whatsoever. I’m not exactly sure the filmmakers thought through everything about The Rapture, and how exactly it would work. I’ll admit I don’t know a ton about The Rapture, but the film’s interpretation of it is having some people disappear and go to heaven I guess, with their clothes are left and there are like clothes literally just falling everywhere, even falling from the sky as if people were continently falling from the sky before being ‘saved’. On top of that, immediately when people disappear, everything goes to chaos and that’s literally all the characters on land aside from a couple characters do, and people just end up doing things that are really hard to buy. There’s even an ending that tries to set up for a sequel that will never ever happen. I think the worst thing overall though is how boring and dull the movie feels. Like even if some of the themes are hamfisted, or some ideas were executed poorly, if it was something interesting or anything like that then it would’ve been at least something. Even a ham fisted message would’ve at least been something but you don’t really get anything out of it, nothing morally, nothing in entertainment factors, nothing interesting or memorable, I barely remember much from the movie.

This movie has a few known people but none of the cast were good at all. Nicolas Cage, aside from one scene in the third act doesn’t appear to be trying at all. We unfortunately don’t even get a crazy performance from him, it would’ve made the movie at least somewhat enjoyable. There is some sort of attempt at a romance between two characters played by Cassi Thomson and Chad Michael Murray and you just don’t buy it at all, they spend like at most 10 minutes long before CMM goes off on a plane with Nicolas Cage and the film treats it as if the two characters were like a couple. I’m not familiar with most of the actors aside from Nicolas Cage but even if they have talent, they don’t have anything to work with here, so they just end up giving terrible performances.

Left Behind is such a poorly directed film, it felt like a straight to DVD despite apparently being shown in multiple cinemas upon its release. From what I could find out about the director, Vic Armstrong, he was a stunt double for Harrison Ford in the Indiana Jones movies. If he has any directorial talent, he doesn’t show it here. The CGI when it’s there is terrible, they couldn’t make a CGI plane look the slightest bit convincing. The music doesn’t go with the movie, especially with the more intense scenes. It’s either too light for intense scenes or its too intense set to events that aren’t all that intense.

Left Behind is horrendous, the writing is poor, the direction is amateurish, and the acting is very mediocre. However I think the most disappointing and worst part is that this movie isn’t even entertaining or hilarious, it’s just boring. If we had an over the top Nicolas Cage performance or even a well intended message implemented, that might’ve made the movie somewhat enjoyable but that’s not the case. Aside from some bad decisions and scenes which can be laughable, there isn’t really anything enjoyable about Left Behind, even on an ironic or unintentional level. At the same time, I don’t really hate it, it’s just that there’s really nothing that good about it.


Knight of Cups (2015) Review

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Sex scenes, offensive language & nudity.
Christian Bale as Rick
Cate Blanchett as Nancy
Natalie Portman as Elizabeth
Brian Dennehy as Joseph
Antonio Banderas as Tonio
Wes Bentley as Barry
Isabel Lucas as Isabel
Teresa Palmer as Karen
Imogen Poots as Della
Armin Mueller-Stahl as Fr. Zeitlinger
Freida Pinto as Helen
Cherry Jones as Ruth
Nick Offerman as Scott
Dane DeHaan as Paul
Thomas Lennon as Tom
Joel Kinnaman as Errol
Jason Clarke as Johnny
Katia Winter as Katia
Nicky Whelan as Nicky
Shea Whigham as Jim
Ryan O’Neal as Ryan
Joe Manganiello as Joe
Michael Wincott as Herb
Kevin Corrigan as Gus
Director: Terrence Malick

A writer (Christian Bale) indulging in all that Los Angeles and Las Vegas has to offer undertakes a search for love and self via a series of adventures with six different women.

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I remember waiting for this movie for a long time. I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of it as Terrence Malick is a very polarising filmmaker but after watching and liking Tree of Life (which was quite unconventional as a film), I thought that I had a good chance of enjoying it. I recently watched Knight of Cups and… I really don’t know what to think of it. It is beautiful looking and it has a lot of great actors in it but otherwise it really didn’t do anything for me.

Describing the movie is hard. The basic structure of Knight of Cups is split into segments where Bale interacts with particular people. I’ve only seen 3 of Malick’s movies, Tree of Life, Badlands and now Knight of Cups and I liked the last 2. Even Tree of Life, for how unconventional it was I liked it but most of all, I could actually somewhat understand parts of it. I’m not even sure what Knight of Cups is supposed to be about, I couldn’t connect to it. So with that connection to whatever Malick is going for being gone, it takes away so much from the movie. When I’m just watching all these talented actors just internally monologing some deep poetic speech while the camera just follows them and I don’t understand what its supposed to mean, you can see how I would find it frustrating and pretentious. Don’t get me wrong, Terrence Malick no doubt had some idea of what he was filming, he wasn’t just filming nice looking stuff and calling it art. But whatever he was going for, I didn’t get it at all. The film drags consistently and constantly, at times its borderline a parody of a Terrence Malick movie with how self indulgent it is. I find it very difficult to recommend Knight of Cups to anyone, unless you are a die hard Terrence Malick fan.

There’s not really much to say in terms of acting, whereas most of the characters in a film like Tree of Life had some sort of character, from what I can tell all the characters in Knight of Cups represent ideas or something. Christian Bale here is pretty much like Sean Penn in Tree of Life, except he’s the main ‘character’ and appears from start to finish. He doesn’t really at any point become a character and just feels flat, Bale barely gets to do anything to leave an impression. Supporting actors include Cate Blanchett, Wes Bentley, Antonio Banderas, Natalie Portman and Imogen Poots and while they are good in their ‘roles’, they don’t leave too much of an impression either. Some actors involved were straight up cameos with Jason Clarke and Joe Manganiello, and supposedly Dane DeHaan and Joel Kinnamon was in it as well (I have no idea where they were though). The only performance that really stood out to a degree was Cate Blanchett but even then she’s not in the movie that long.

This movie is shot beautifully like all of Terrence Malick’s films. The locations, lighting, colouring, all of that was great and was probably one of the only things I liked in the whole film. That’s honestly is the only thing that I can guarantee you’ll think with Knight of Cups, that it looks great. The film also seemed to have a dream-like feeling to it, and the score by Hanan Townshend also played a part in that.

Having finally seen it, I can see why Knight of Cups was so divisive. I’m not entirely sure I actually like it myself. And it’s not that I don’t like Terrance Malick as a director, I liked Badlands and Tree of Life, and the latter was very unconventional. I guess I just connected a lot more with Tree of Life than Knight of Cups, which is why with KOC, it really didn’t work for me. I guess the movie is beautiful looking and that’s somewhat enough for me to call it somewhat above average but only just. If you flat out don’t like Terrance Malick’s other films, you’d probably hate Knight of Cups. I’m going to try watching Song to Song sometime soon, and I’m just hoping that Knight of Cups was the most Malick film he ever made.