Apocalypse: Caught in the Eye of the Storm, Part 2
A Guest Critique by Ivan. Part 1 here.
Day three opens with the never-seen-before boss of W.N.N. reading through a bible when he notices a creepy man standing in his office.
“I read right to the end. You’re too late.”
“Who are you?”
“Just… someone who read all the way to the end.”
“Stacy, get security in here right away. Thanks for dropping by mister.. ehm…” [creepy man just smiles, man in tux walks in] “Get him out of here”. [man in tux does nothing.] “I said, get him out of here!”
“Thank you, Agent Domi. I believe that’ll be all.” [man in tux leaves]
Okay, points to creepy man here, that’s halfway decent menacing. Though it makes me wonder if this “Agent Domi” really is part of W.N.N. security and has been a plant for years or if he just came in with creepy man. In the former case why didn’t they put a plant in the director’s seat? If the latter, why didn’t the boss realize this guys wasn’t his employee?
I suppose I should stop calling him creepy man, he has a name. In fact, since the Antichrist will only appear in W.N.N. broadcasts in this movie, he’s essentially the main antagonist. But remember what I said about Buckson’s actor being chosen because he just looks the part of a uber-manly journalist? Well, check out creepy man.
Left: His muhaha-I-have-you-now face when things go according to plan
Right: His curse-those-dogooders-for-foiling-my-nefarious-schemes face
Nowhere: His friendly, reassuring face
Looks trustworthy, no? And his acting style is cribbed from Saturday morning cartoon villains. Plus, he’s openly, knowingly and willingly serving Satan, but he never gives a motivation for doing so. His master’s plan doesn’t help him, and if he really read the bible ‘to the end’ he might have noticed he’s going to lose.
So if the movie doesn’t take this character seriously, why should I? His name shall be MacEvilton.
MacEvilton is here to tell W.N.N.’s boss that he’s taking over the network. He doesn’t have any papers, forged or otherwise, he’s just saying he is. And he says boss-guy can stop reading the bible to find out what happens to his vanished family members because “the Messiah” already told him what happened to them. Good idea MacEvilton, remind him that your Messiah claimed he murdered them for choosing the way of hate, that will make him agreeable.
But that’s not the part that boss-guy argues about.
“You may call him the Messiah, but this book has another name for him.”
“And you honestly think the Messiah is worried about a bunch of crazies thinking he’s the devil? Believe me, he’s not worried about that at all. That’s my job.”
Well, MacEvilton has his master’s sense of subtlety. Goodbye, character who recognized the rapture when he saw it, you’ll be missed. Here’s hoping you didn’t just realize the obvious literal truth of the bible but prayed to have your sins forgiven before MacEvilton shot you, or you’re still going to hell.
Helen meanwhile has finally taken some time out of her busy schedule to check on grandma. After a search to the background of an overly cheerful Christian singer, Helen finds a neatly folded pink dress on the floor, surprising no one. In her dress is a note telling Helen that grandma is with the lord now but that Helen can still be saved.
My first instinct was to mock this note by wondering if grandma was carrying that paper since the Gulf War, and that it would be unnecessary if Helen had been paying the slightest bit of attention to what grandma seems to have been saying all the time.
But then I realized that these notes have potential. Suppose that when the rapture happens, a quarter, maybe a half of the piles of cloths left behind contain a warning people that this was the rapture, and the next charismatic leader to take over the world should not be trusted? That should get the point across to the ignorant heathens, especially if it’s the exact same card, finely crafted and plasticized.
RTCs can carry that card and show them to each other so they can identify their tribe members. And they can claim that they have them because they care about the unsaved, albeit in a way that costs them no effort. A card with such immaterial benefits could probably sell for far more than the manufacturing price. And RTCs having them won’t affect me or other unbelievers unless the rapture does actually happen.
Mental note: Call a print shop and ask their rates.
I suppose my cards should also have a hole for a key chain, like grandma’s card has. After ransacking the entire house, because the note didn’t say what the key was for (I should put a field for that in my notes), Helen opens a locked box. In it, she finds some video tapes. Couldn’t the note just have told her to look at a tape in the VCR?
Hey, remember how Left Behind had Bruce Barnes deriving Tim LaHaye’s exact prophecy timeline by just “reading the bible literally,” and then the characters gushed about how perfectly it fit with the events in a book where Tim LaHaye dictated the plot? Remember how the Slacktivist expressed relief that they didn’t go all the way, and had Bruce Barnes explicitly namedrop the amazing prophecies of Tim LaHaye?
Well, feast your eyes on this: In this movie with Jack van Impe as “Script Supervisor”, the main conversion tool is a video tape of Jack van Impe’s show.
And ZOMG, don’t you see characters, all of Jack’s predictions came exactly true… in Jack van Impe’s own movie.
I’m not actually sure if this videotape was made especially for this film or if they took footage from a real episode. The background of the video looks a bit different than that in the clips of Jack’s show I checked on youtube, but perhaps this is an older set.
And based on the snippets I heard in those clips, he says the same thing in his real shows as he does here. Rapture is coming blabla end times, blabla THE PEACE IS A LIE (sorry) blablabla accept Jesus. And he and his wife make their show sound like an advertisement, which it kinda is.
“Now, does the Bible spell this out in great detail?”
“Rexella, this book is amazing, and the facts are there.”
“Oh Jack, it is so exciting to think about the coming of the lord, when he’s going to take all of those who had their faith and trust in him home to be with him.”
“Wow Jack, this Bible thing sounds great. But such a wonderful book must be expensive.”
“Rexella, all this can by yours for only $39.99. And if you act now, you get Scofield’s reference notes for free, telling you how to cut and paste Bible passages so the right facts are there.”
But Helen is impressed, so she cracks open a Bible and after four excruciatingly dull minutes of marking passages in a bible to the rantings of Jack van Impe, Helen falls crying to her knees and converts, Christian music in the background.
“Dear god, please forgive me for being so stubborn. Somehow, I always knew grandma was right when she told me I needed you to wash away my sins.”
Oh, you always knew “somehow”? How very convenient. No, don’t tell us how you knew or anything, all the RTCs in the audience understand.
But if you always knew, why did you need to waste hours of your time, and minutes of mine, marking Bible passages for proof? And how come you can’t name a single sin that needed to be washed away so badly, other than being too stubborn to realize your sins needed washing away? I haven’t seen Helen do anything wrong, unless stupidity counts, nor was she ever unfriendly to RTCs.
The scenes of Helen were actually intercut with Buckson announcing some interviews with people gushing about how grateful they are to god for saving them, with not a shred of doubt about Franco’s claims. These people included that Pentagon Spokesman (apparently the Penta-hallway was unavailable for this scene, so they traded further down to a set outside in front of a party tent) who is on record as risking annihilation of the US to defend Israel. But apparently he’s not just left behind, he’s now kissing the Antichrist’s ass. I thought RTCs claim that only they are friends of Israel and that all non-RTCs want to destroy it.
Speaking of RTCs as friends of the Jews, that’s over now because the Israeli general is also gushing about the Messiah who saved them all when he came to Jerusalem. He also thanks the Messiah for not letting a single nuke find it’s target. Yeah, those people in Kamchatka are also thrilled about that.
And from the other side, a Jordanian field commander who looks more Irish than Jordanian is praising Allah for saving the world.
I’m reminded of Superman IV here. The nations of the world were all gearing up to wipe each other out, but when a powerful entity shows up and removes their nukes, everyone is happy and eager to help him and maintains the peace. I know brinkmanship politics can lead to ugly results that no one wanted, but this is pushing it. If they were all this eager to resolve this peacefully, you’d think some of them would have at least tried that.
On day four, MacEvilton is smirking in his new boss-chair, reading very fake looking newspapers, while W.N.N.’s radio show accepts a caller who gushes about how awesome Franco Macaluso is, then cuts off a caller who calls him the Antichrist. That’s all MacEvilton organized after his risky power grab? Seems rather tame, especially by his standards. I’d have expected him to at least trace the call and send a death squad to the caller’s house. Maybe carpet bomb the entire city block if he’s feeling frisky.
Helen walks in chatting before realizing her boss has been replaced with Dick Dastardly’s evil twin. I guess she didn’t bother to come to the office the entire previous day. Sure, World War 3 started and ended, mass disappearances and worldwide riots occurred, and an important political figure claims godhood. Eh, slow news day, I’m sure Helen could take the day off.
Still, odd that none of her colleague’s saw fit to tell her about the change in management either. I wonder how many other employees still have no idea who they’re working for now.
Helen decides to pull a Rayford: She pretty much shouts out how disloyal she is while grumbling about the ‘two goons’ in the recording studio. Not a good idea because this villain is not nearly as subtle and Nicolae. But MacEvilton shows some restraint and Helen gets to leave his office alive.
I’ll at least change the funny nickname for him. The Goony One sounds about right.
In happier news for Helen, Buckson also walks into the studio and the two smile and hold hands as a new slogan for W.N.N. introduces them.
“Across America, and around the world. You’re watching W.N.N.”
Better than Nazi slogans, but if you want to be the primary trusted news source ‘around the world’, you probably should not be this blatantly America-centered.
Helen and Buckson introduce a statement of President Macaluso. The speech itself seems to be a spirited attempt to be even less subtle than the first one. A few gems:
“Welcome to a new age of peace and prosperity. Welcome to an age of human enlightenment. Welcome to heaven on earth!”
“A long time ago a man, a deceitful and evil man, a man named Jesus, came in my name and deceived many. But his deception has come to an end. His lies of hate, his lies of division and intolerance, that led you to the brink of destruction.”
“I have come in peace, and I have brought peace to the world.”
“Now you have seen my good deeds and my miracles. My children, I am here to tell you today that we are ready to take the next great step of evolution.”
“What has held you back until now were those who refused to believe in the power of the human mind. Those who believed that true power came from outside ourselves.”
Let me check, human enlightenment, dissing Jesus, calling Christian beliefs intolerant, peace, good deeds, evolution, power is within yourself… he’s calling out squares on the RTC boogeyman bingo-card in record time, isn’t he?
I would wonder why no one thinks to ask why their new god took 2000 years to correct the horrible deception of Jesus, but then RTCs are not prone to asking why their god took 4000 years to only partially fix that ‘all humans are damned’-problem either.
Even more hilarious than the speech itself is the laughable way the footage of the Antichrist’s speech is pasted into stock footage of crowds. The stock footage made with news cameras is of clearly lower quality than the footage of President Macaluso. But we’re supposed to believe this is movie footage of a crowd looking at news camera footage of the Antichrist. The still frame below here doesn’t really do justice to just how jarring it is, but it may give you a hint.
“Why are we here? Don’t we have a TV at home?”
“Yes, but this electronic billboard is so awesome, it’s got better resolution than the real world.”
And no matter which nation the stock footage crowds are from, they’re all watching this broadcast in English with no subtitles. Instituting a One World Language in this universe will be a breeze.
At this point I’m not even surprised anymore that his audience laps up everything Franco says. What does surprise me is Helen’s reaction. She was calm when she announced Franco, then starts contorting her face to signal her anxiety halfway into the speech. Does this imply that after hours of watching Jack van Impe tapes warning her about the Antichrist AND MacEvilton calling Franco the Messiah, Helen only figured out that Franco was the Antichrist just now? Just how dumb is she?
At least she springs into action now. She ‘secretly’ notifies Buckson to follow her so obviously that MacEvilton finds out instantly. Luckily for her, his goons only follow her out at a leisurely walking pace, so she and Buckson make it to their car and drive to grandma’s house.
As they enter the house (why are all the lights already on?) Buckson is busy telling Helen that Franco is just awesome, and that she should have seen how Franco walked onto the Mount of Olives and all the missiles vanished at that exact moment. A: Buckson was in the army camp, not in Jerusalem, so he couldn’t have seen that himself. And B: Isn’t the whole point of the rapture that ‘none may know the hour’? Even Jesus and the angels aren’t in the know, so how was the devil able to figure it out to the second?
Buckson asks that if Franco isn’t god, then what is he? Helen replies:
“I think I’d rather let you see it for yourself than try and explain it. Why don’t you watch this tape? Then you can draw your own conclusions.”
Ehm, why? What exactly does Jack van Impe say that Helen couldn’t quickly summarize? Oh, right, if Helen explained it we couldn’t show how accurate Jack predicted the events in his own movie.
But if you hadn’t sat down to watch the tapes, you could have been done before the the Goony One and his friend found your house and broke out the spy gear. Just saying.
I’m not sure if they only watch the two minutes of Jack’s show that we see, but I’m very glad we didn’t have to suffer more of Jack’s smug face before we hear the response.
“Well, what do you think.”
“Wow. Pretty fascinating stuff. You know, you and I should do a special report on that someday.”
“What are you talking about, ‘someday’? Don’t you see we don’t have much time? We’ve got to warn the world, this Macaluso guy is the Antichrist.”
Because when Helen said “watch this tape, then you can draw your own conclusions” she meant “you can draw my conclusions, or else”.
“Wow, wow, back up the truck, you’re not taking this stuff literally, are you?”
Ooh, ooh, one more for the RTC boogeyman Bingo-card, unbelievers mocking RTCs for taking the bible literally. Except that this is about Jack van Impe’s claims about what the bible predicts. You can believe that the bible is divinely inspired but must be understood metaphorically. But it’s pretty obvious Jack means what he says literally and you can either see it as literally true or complete bullshit (guess what I do).
This boilerplate scene only makes sense if you consider Jack’s show equivalent to the bible. Which, given Jack’s involvement with the script, might be an intentional message. And this isn’t the last time that happens.
Helen and Buckson have an argument: Buckson does a “We highly educated journalists should be above such a religious cult” routine, Helen counters with little but repeated assertions and passive-aggressiveness, standard stuff. Though not as standard as this:
“Look, I’m not saying there’s nothing to it. My father spend his entire life believing this, it made him a happier man. In fact it made him a better man. But at the end of the day, he still ended up dead, just like the rest of us will.”
What is it with male leads in RTC fiction and their daddy issues?
The bickering continues, but Helen manages to appeal to Buckson’s journalistic integrity (unlike Buck, he actually has some) to at least check out the facts.
“Okay, let’s take it from the start. Now, this Antichrist character, he’s supposed to come out of the Roman empire, right?”
So Buckson never heard of the rapture or the view of the Antichrist as someone who promises peace, and barely seems familiar with the concept of the Antichrist, but he knows that specific interpretation?
“Yes, that’s right. And according to this encyclopedia, the European Union is virtually identical geographically to the Roman Empire.”
No it isn’t. And even if it was, the omniscient god who dictated the bible should have known the difference between a contemporary empire and a union of nations, half of which match half that empire “geographically.” First “fact,” swing and a miss.
This is as “virtually identical geography” as the United States and the First Mexican Empire.
But the next ‘fact’ will have to wait, as we cut to the goons outside who managed to get a video feed working. The Goony One technobabbles a bit about the good footage from a tiny camera they pushed under the door, which is so small they couldn’t even see it if they were looking for it. I’m more amazed that this camera is getting a direct frontal shot Helen and Buckson on the couch. The couch faces away from the front door and is 20 feet to the door’s right. And even if the camera could roll that far, that accurately, stopping right side up, there’s still two walls blocking the direct path. Magic bullet theory, eat your heart out.
And back to Helen who’s going to show us some more, hopefully better facts.
(Paper with check marks in hand) “Well, sure have been a lot of fulfillments in the past, what, two days.”
Wait, that was it? Makers of this movie, you had time for tons of stock footage and the overly long conversion scene, but you skip the justification of your own silly plot, instead assuring us that they found tons of proof off-screen? Screw you, you lazy bastards.
“There’s still a few more things we’re waiting for though. I think the biggest thing will be this seven year treaty between Israel and the rest of the world.”
The entire world was nuking each other, and now no one is fighting anymore. Why is this peace treaty with just Israel such a big deal? (Though admittedly, unlike in Left Behind there was actually a war with Israel that would still require a formal peace treaty to end.)
“No, I’m sorry. I just can’t accept this. Whether it’s compelling, whether it’s interesting, it’s just ludicrous. I’m a professional journalist for god’s sake. And, and, I’m worrying about some bad dreams of some ancient shepard? No, I’m going back to the studio.“
That’s what all that book-learning does to you. Even though the truth of the bible is so obvious, it just makes you too proud to admit it.
So Buckson leaves Helen alone and oh, look how sad Helen is. Though if Buckson’s car crashes before he gets there, god will torture him forever, and she’ll not say a bad thing about god because of it.
The next day MacEvilton confronts Buckson with the recording from last night and demands his loyalty and help in finding Helen, because she’s gone ‘missing’, even though the goons were right outside her house when Buckson left. Buckson says that if MacEvilton has the tape, he knows that Buckson left the woman he loves and that it should be obvious that Buckson doesn’t believe her. But MacEvilton isn’t satisfied and menaces so obviously that even Buckson figures out he’s talking about killing Helen. MacEvilton doesn’t bother to deny it. Buckson leaves pissed, which is kind of a tame response if you ask me.
Buckson calls to grandma’s house, but stupidly leaves a message on the answering machine while the Goony One is ransacking the house and finding the video tapes. Dude, MacEvilton had a recording from inside that very house, and now he says he can’t find Helen. If Helen was still in that house, he’d have found her already. Meanwhile, MacEvilton goes to a technician and gets him to set up a secret twelve second delay in the broadcast.
We’ve gone far too long without news footage, so here is Buckson to announce that things in Europe and the Middle East keep getting better (there were problems in Europe?), and that there’s about to be a “quantum leap” forward again. European political leaders have been meeting with religious dignitaries from around the globe, and a rabbi and a priest get to present their conclusions: Franco Macaluso is totally god you guys! Every authority figure thus far has been saying the same thing. Appropriately enough, this “quantum leap” forward is tiny and unobservable.
A priest, a rabbi, and a reporter walk into a stairwell…ah, never mind, what actually happens in the movie is an even bigger joke.
The rabbi makes the same ‘he brought peace, therefore Messiah’ argument as the Jews in Left Behind, and frankly my knowledge of Judaism isn’t good enough to have much to add to the Slacktivist on this. But I do want to bring up the priest. He never once seems concerned that his entire life has been a lie. The pope derives his authority from being the placeholder for Jesus and the successor of Jesus’ disciple Paul, whom Franco called evil and deceitful. Doesn’t that bother him? And why is he still wearing a crucifix?
And what about all those other religious dignitaries? The Qur’an considers Jesus an important prophet, so according to Franco the entire teachings of Muhammad were corrupted too. The Muslims are all okay with that? To say nothing of the polytheistic religions who are now told to worship just one god. Just like in Left Behind, everyone except the RTCs are absolutely fine with chucking all of their beliefs right out of the window.
Hope everyone is enjoying Heathen Critique’s first guest critique! Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion!