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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Left Behind:World at War
Left Behind:World at War
Columbia/Tri-Star // PG-13 // October 25, 2005
List Price: $24.96 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Shannon Nutt | posted October 9, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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THE MOVIE

I'm probably in the minority here, but I've really enjoyed the Left Behind movies so far. They are a few of the only religious-themed movies I have seen that also hold up as solid pieces of entertainment. The movies are based upon the best-selling novels of the same name, and cover the period of the Book of Revelation known as the Tribulation – where believers in Christ have already been taken up to heaven and those "Left Behind" must deal with the seven-year reign of the Antichrist. But don't worry, the movie doesn't beat you over the head with its religion, but instead picks opportune times during the story to point out how everything that is happening to the characters has been foreshadowed already in the Bible.


My biggest problem with the first two Left Behind movies is that they looked and played more like TV movies-of-the-week than full-blown theatrical films. Not so with Left Behind: World At War, which actually looks like a motion picture and has upped the acting talent significantly by bringing aboard Oscar winner Louis Gossett, Jr. to play President of the United States, Gerald Fitzhugh. Unlike the previous Left Behind movies, which concentrated on the characters of Buck Williams (Kirk Cameron) and Rayford Steele (Brad Johnson), World At War is primarily Lou Gossett's movie, as he plays a leader who suddenly realizes he is responsible for making the United States defenseless and that the Antichrist, Nicolae Carpathia (Gordon Currie), is about to launch a major offensive against his country.

The movie opens, however, with a happy moment for fans of Buck and Rayford. In a double wedding, Buck finally gets married to Chloe (Janaya Stephens), while Rayford has met a new woman in his life, Amanda White (Laura Catalano), and is getting married to her in the same ceremony, performed by their good friend Bruce Barnes (Arnold Pinnock, who replaces Clarence Gilyard, Jr. in the role).

Buck crosses paths with President Fitzhugh when it is discovered that Carpathia is planning on using biological warfare against any Christians who oppose him. While Buck faces a personal tragedy of his own, Fitzhugh teams up with operative and ally Carolyn Miller (Jessica Steen) in an attempt to stop Carpathia before either of his evil plans are carried out.

Much more action-oriented that the two previous films, Left Behind: World At War gives Gossett one of the best parts he's had in years. You don't have to be a "believer" to enjoy the film, so don't let your own background deter you from checking out World At War - although you might want to catch up with the first two movies before you check out this one.

THE DVD

Video:
The movie is presented in anamorphic widescreen at the 1.78:1 ratio, which is a great change considering the first two movies were released on DVD in the full-frame format. This is a movie that deserves the widescreen look as well…there's a lot of action in the movie, including an intense assassination attempt at the beginning of the film and a destroyed White House (not giving anything away, since it's in the movie's first scene!), so compared to the other Left Behind flicks, this one definitely has a lot more "scope" to it. The quality of the transfer is solid, if not spectacular. There is some slight grain evident on the print, but overall it's an above-average job.

Audio:
The audio is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital and is nicely clean and crisp. There's a lot of action in this Left Behind film, so it was nice to see the movie get a 5.1 track that is both immersive and free from any notable defects. English, French and Spanish subtitles are also available.

Extras:
For a direct-to-video movie, Sony Pictures has done a very nice job with the extras. First, there's a Audio Commentary track with actor Gordon Currie, Producer Nicholas D. Tabarrok and Writer/Producer Andre Van Heerden. I don't know why, but I was actually expecting a rather "dry" commentary from these guys – and it's the exact opposite: lively, fun, informative and with a good sense of humor by all.

Moments That Were Left Behind is a funny 3-minute featurette that gives viewers some bloopers from filming. There are two longer featurettes that go behind the scenes of the movie. The first is Characters With Character (19 minutes) during which we get a lot of comments from the cast and crew. What Doesn't Kill You (18 minutes) covers the stunts and special effects in the movie.

Surprisingly, the Deleted Scenes section of the DVD only gives us two scrapped moments, both featuring Louis Gossett, Jr. "Militia Is One Step Ahead" (1 ½ minutes) has the President discussing strategy with one of his top advisors; while "Walking To The Oval Office" (30 seconds) is just a transitional scene that was cut by the director. Both scenes come with optional commentary by Writer/Producer Andre Van Heerden.

Also on the DVD are some text Cast & Crew Bios, as well as a pair of Music Videos: the 3-minute "Find A Way" by Pure; and the 4-minute "It's Not Over" by Grand Prize. Both music videos are presented in 2.0 Dolby.

GCN Special News Report is a 3-minute featurette that is basically a promo for the movie, but is rather cool since the actors play their characters instead of themselves in the interview footage of the segment. The Way Of The Master (24 minutes) is an introduction to Kirk Cameron's own ministry website and television series in which he tries to bring a "reality" slant to sharing the Gospel with others.

Finally, there are 7 Trailers, including trailers for the first two Left Behind movies, as well as The Gospel; Revelation; Judgment; Waterproof; and The Second Chance.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Despite still not being seen as "mainstream," the Left Behind movies are one of the few series out there that actually seem to be getting better with each release. From merely a scope and style standpoint, Left Behind: World At War is the best of the lot…but it also tells one of the best stories of the three films too. Don't avoid this one even if you're not a strong follower of the Christian faith. You'll still enjoy the movie from a characterization level, and its "preaching" never gets in the way of its storytelling.
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