Friday, September 5, 2014

The Remaining [2014]

MPAA (PG-13)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing Interview with the director

The Remaining [2014] (directed and screenplay cowritten by Casey La Scala along with Chris Dowling) imagines the sudden arrival of the end of the world according to the sequence outlined in the Biblical Book of Revelation

The film begins at a lovely "garden wedding" (but note here, not a _Church_ wedding ;-) of a lovely,  even somewhat sassy couple, Skylar (played by Alexa Vega) and Dan (played by Bryan Dechart) both of whom could have easily starred in some CMT / GAC music video.  They do have someone there to officiate ("Pastor Shay?" played by John Pyper Furgeson, whose character gets more important as the film progresses).  They've written their own sincere if somewhat cheesy vows.

We viewers get to endure then the typical "rites" that go on at the lovely Reception that follows including the "toast" by the Best Man (played by Shaun Sipos) where he talks about "Commitment" to the irritation of his 7-years-and-going GF named Ally (played by Italia Ricci) who then asks, "Why then has HE not proposed (to me) yet ...?" ;-), the "first dance" (that "starts slow" and then "suddenly" becomes a "hip-hop" number, "oh what a surprise" ;-), the "rigged bouquet toss" (all dressed-in-white and sassy Sky knows her BFF Ally's "pain ...").  There's even a somewhat creepy (or simply nerdy...) friend named Dan (played by Bryan Dechart) who's videotaping it all.

And then, as Dan's videotaping Sky's parents' well-wishes to their daughter, telling her (into the tape) that her "wedding was perfect" (even as they note that they still would have preferred a Church wedding ;-) ... SUDDENLY ... both of Sky's parents DROP DEAD (apparently Raptured...) and ... THE END OF THE WORLD BEGINS ...

The rest of the movie follows with many of the torments described in the Book of Revelation, including storms of fire and ice and fearsome flying beasts who sting like scorpions, ensueing...

To the its credit by film's end, it is clear WHY these torments are occurring: It's a LAST CHANCE for those who Remain to choose between God, and ... non-God (unbelief, selfish pride, etc). 

That's NOT an altogether bad understanding of the Book of Revelation whose dream-like, hallucinatory imagery, of course, DEFIES EASY / HONEST interpretation (though certainly, there have been various sects for 2000 years, who've insisted that "they know...").

The Catholic Church has insisted that the imagery present be understood as being BOTH PREDICTIVE of a future time AND ALREADY PRESENT.  That's why ANY TIME can feel LIKE "THE END TIMES."  And let's face it, there have been PLENTY OF TIMES during the Church's 2000 year history, that "THE END TIMES" seemed quite "Nigh" -- during the Roman persecutions of the Early Church, during the Barbarian invasions that sacked the remains of the Roman Empire after it had become Christian, during the Crusades / Black Plague, during the Religious Wars that plagued Europe during the time of the Reformation (culminating in the Thirty Year War in which HALF of Central Europe's inhabitants DIED as a result of the wars), to the wars/plagues of the modern era (WW I, the Spanish Flu, WW II, the threat of nuclear annihilation during the Cold War ...).  Every one of these historical torments had MANY sincere believers believing that The End was Near.

One can ALSO interpret the Book of Revelation as the grand-apocalyptic struggle FOR ONE'S OWN SOUL during _one's own life_.  The struggles, the toils, the failures that occur in one's own life could be interpreted as being as painful as "scorpion bites" or being hit on the head by "hail of fire."

And ultimately, the whole drama centers around the fundamental question: Does one (come to) believe?  If one does come to believe none of these torments ultimately succeed ... and one reaches the blissful peace of the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation (interestingly LEFT OUT OF THIS FILM).  If one continues to struggle, thinking that "one is in charge," well the final plagues wipe everybody out.

Anyway, IMHO this does make for an interesting film.  I would also note here that BOTH fundamentalist Muslims and fundamentalist Protestants arrive at basically the same conclusion: One ultimately has to _submit_ to God (Allah / Jesus).  And I would also note that interestingly enough, though the Muslims DON'T accept Jesus as God's son, THEY DO BELIEVE that it will be JESUS (and _not_ Mohammed) who will come back to earth (as Prophet if not as God's son) to judge it at the end.

Something to think about as one munches popcorn while watching the Final Days play-out on-screen: We often may not like each other, but we all have more in common than we think.

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1 comment:

  1. Excellent article. This is the season for end of the world movies. last chance?