Plot: Bronson Pearl (Richard Nester) is known around the world for his news reports, but as he covers an ever escalating situation in the Middle East, he seems to be on the front lines of the biggest news in decades. Tensions continue to rise and world war could break out at any second, but Pearl remains entrenched and back in the studio, his friend and fellow news reporter Helen Hannah (Leigh Lewis) is guiding the audience through the turbulent times. Just as the pressure boils over and nuclear weapons are launched by multiple nations, sudden disappearances rock the world. Those who vanished left behind their clothes, but not a trace of what happened, leading some to believe it was a new weapon, while others insist this is a foretold rapture. As mankind faces a dark, unknown future, who will step forward to lead as chaos erupts and what will the power shifts mean to those who survive?
Entertainment Value: Apocalypse is the first installment in a four movie franchise that explores a post apocalyptic world after the biblical rapture and as the Antichrist rises to power. This was made to cash in on the Left Behind movement, so it is squarely aimed at the Christian crowd and makes no real effort to appeal to viewers outside of that main demographic. The sequels would put in a little more effort in that regard, using some famous faces to lure in potential new watchers, but this first movie is much lower budget and simplistic in approach. The narrative invests some time in setting up the rapture’s impact on the world and how the Antichrist seizes power, but mainly examines the bond between the two lead characters. Helen wants to open Bronson’s eyes to what is going on, but as he is a man of “news” not religion, that isn’t a smooth process. So there is a larger scale background story going on, but the core of the movie is more intimate and as the series rolls on, Helen stays in the central position. If you’re here for the religious message, you might appreciate Apocalypse, but there’s little to praise in terms of entertainment. The movie has a glacial pace and lacks even the b movie appeal some of the more ludicrous Christian movies possess, as the tone stays serious and straight forward throughout. So outside of the Christian crowd, I can’t recommend this one whatsoever.
This series rotates in various guest stars and even recasts some of the prominent roles, but the one constant is Leigh Lewis as Helen Hannah. She appears in all of the movies and provides the central presence, as she goes from concerned news reporter to much maligned freedom fighter. I think her performance is fine, but none of the efforts in this first movie stand out at all. The material is bland and basic, so she doesn’t have much of a chance to shine and she isn’t even able to dial up the drama, as the script keeps things almost sedated. But Lewis does what she can with the material, which isn’t much, but it is one of the better turns in this first picture. Richard Nester on the other hand, is rather wooden and doesn’t quite the project the screen presence his character suggests, but is watchable. Not stilted enough to add much unintentional humor however, so that isn’t a bonus in this case. The cast also includes Shauna McDonald, Sam Bornstein, and Michael Halkusis.