10 March 2013

Movie Review: "Apocalypse" (1998)

Rated: PG for violence and thematic elements
Starring: Leigh Lewis, Richard Nester, Sam Bornstein
Released: 1998 (original VHS) 
Synopsis: Helen Hannah is the lead news anchor for WNN, the World News Network.  When countries from all over the planet are firing deadly weapons at each other, and it seems that the world will implode, there are mass disappearances of people everywhere, and the missiles and nuclear bombs all vanish.  New world leader Franco Macalousso says that he is responsible, but Helen's grandmother left a video before she disappeared that said otherwise: such a man is the Anti-Christ.  After converting her longtime co-anchor and best friend Bronson Paul, both of their lives are on the line, along with those of all of the others who refuse to worship the new leaders.  Will they be able to spread the Word in time? What is the fate of those left behind?

Story: 4/5
As I have done with some other films recently--G. I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, for one--I read the novelization of Apocalypse before seeing the movie.  The book version was compelling, though I was unsure how some of the plot elements would translate to film.  It turns out my fears were justified: The movie leaves out some poignant plot points that were in the book, such as Helen's backstory and the romance between her and Bronson.  It's quite surprising, especially since the novel was written by one of the producers of the film.
Despite it not meeting this bibliophile's expectations in that department, Apocalypse spins a convincing yarn, even though I'm not sure the end times will occur exactly as these films show it.  I started it before going to bed last night, and finished it today; I don't usually finish movies that quickly.

Production Values: 3.5/5
According to the copyright during the final credits, Apocalypse was released in 1998.  However, it has the feel of a telefilm from no later than the early nineties.  The video quality isn't the best, and some scenes are a little hokey.  Even the soundtrack was especially annoying.  Still, the showings of mass destruction, despite the fuzzy picture, were quite visceral.

Moral Content: 3/5
This movie may be rated "PG," but it would likely unsettle some kids.  Not only are there numerous scenes involving places being blown up and mobs attacking innocent people, but it all plays out as a news report.  If your children are freaked out by CNN or Fox News' coverage of incidents like 9/11, you should definitely wait until they're older to let them watch Apocalypse.
Elsewhere, there is a bloody wound caused by a mishap, someone is shot and killed--not graphically--and an imminent hanging is implied.  Language is limited to one or two misuses of God's name by non-Christian characters.  No sexual content or drug use, however.

Conclusion: Though the "end times prophecy" has always been part of the Bible, society in general is thinking about the end of the world, whether it be from the book of Revelation or the Mayan calendar.  Apocalypse was made over a decade ago, but it would likely ring true for many today.  That said, many are likely to disagree with how "the end" is depicted in this film, and the book version is better than the celluloid one.  For those who enjoy Christian cinema, though there are better flicks in the genre--Courageous, Carman: The Champion, October Baby--you could also do much worse. (C Me Dance and The Fourth Wise Man, anyone?)

Score: 3.5/5

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