Revelation Part 3: Pride, Greed, and Puppies

(Read Part 1 and Part 2.)

Who’s ready for part 3 of Revelation?!

Hopefully everyone who’s reading, since that’s what this post is about.  Our third and final chapter in this thrilling somewhat-interesting-in-places saga has begun!

Thanks, Snarky Internet Cat!  I think I will.  So as you may recall, our hero with the uber-masculine name, Mr. Thorold Stone, is hiding out with a band of Christian rebels.  Also in hiding are some important characters:

  • Helen Hannah, the most wanted woman in the world
  • William Spino (AKA Hacker Guy), Hannah’s half-brother who was conveniently one of the creators of the most important government program in history, and
  • Cindy, the cool blind skeptic whose failure to hang on Jack Van Impe’s every word means it’s only a matter of time before something bad happens to her.

Meanwhile, Creepy False Prophet is looking for Stone because he has a top secret disc that False Prophet wants.  This disc contains the program for a mysterious government event called the Day of Wonders.  Nobody knows what it is yet, but the Christians are convinced that it’s bad news.

The Christians are hanging out at their base when suddenly a man named Ronnie turns up holding a tape that he’s gotten out of the security cameras at the O.N.E. government prison.  He plays a recording of Creepy False Prophet’s spiel to Selma Davis about the Day of Wonders. False Prophet still doesn’t say specifically what it is, but it’s apparently a very kill-or-convert holiday.

We’ve heard this spiel before, but our protagonists haven’t.  Thorold is appalled, although to be honest I’m more interested in what Spino must be thinking.  Thorold has always been on the fence, but Spino really believes in Macalousso.  How does this recording affect his faith?  We don’t find out now.  Are we going to find out later?  Maybe?

I was all ready to facepalm at how this is twice now that Creepy False Prophet has let recordings of his rants be leaked to the enemy (it happened in the first movie), but it turns out he’s prepared this time.  Anticipating that he’d be recorded, he leaves a threatening message for Stone: bring the disc to O.N.E. head quarters by 2 am, or his family gets it.  We hear Stone’s wife and daughter in the background asking for help, although it unsurprisingly turns out to be Creepy False Prophet mimicking their voices.

Creepy False Prophet can do voices now!  What can’t he do?!

Stone freaks out but promises that he won’t take the disc to the headquarters. Instead, he says, he’ll retaliate by bringing down the Day of Wonders.

“Will you help me?” he asks everyone at the table. They shake their heads.

Then Spino speaks up: “I know how we can stop it, Thorold!”

Now that Stone’s inspired them into action, they quickly come up with a course of action! If they can infect the main computer at O.N.E. with a virus, Spino explains, it will stop the Day of Wonders program from running.  Together they weave an elaborate plan for Stone to sneak into O.N.E. and put the virus in place.

This scene reeks of the White Savior complex, but its also just confusing.  The entire goal of the Christian rebels throughout this movie has been to find out about the Day of Wonders.  They’ve known for a while that it had to do with a mysterious computer program, and now they’ve confirmed that it’s also about killing or converting Christians.

So … what did they expect to do with this information once they uncovered it?  Wasn’t the next step in the plan to stop it from happening?  What else would it be?  Were they going to pull a Left Behind and just sit on the information while thinking about how sad it is that so many people are going to die?

Scum Bag Kirk Cameron

Scumbag Buck Williams

I don’t expect a lot from Cloud Ten, but I expect better than that.

Even Spino has reasons to want to stop the Day of Wonders.  He thinks Creepy False Prophet is repurposing the Day of Wonders for his own nefarious ends.  (This explains why the recording doesn’t change his faith in Macalousso, by the way.) So if Spino wanted to stop the Day of Wonders, was sitting in a room full of people who also wanted to stop the Day of Wonders, and he knew exactly how to stop it, why was he so hesitant to share this information until Stone said something?  And why was everyone else so aghast when he did share it?  It’s clearly an excuse to make Stone into the hero, and to that extent it achieves its purpose.  But plot-wise it makes no frakking sense.

Everyone’s on board with this plan though. They disguise Stone as a janitor and send him in to plant the virus.

Hm, ok. Except we’ve seen before that Helen is in contact with other bands of Christians.  Wouldn’t it be much safer to send one of them? Someone who nobody is going to recognize as a wanted former government employee? Or at least someone who Creepy False Prophet doesn’t have a personal vendetta against? Again, this makes no sense except as a method of showing how *omgsocool* the protagonist is.

As if to illustrate my point, Stone arrives at the O.N.E. building and is almost instantly recognized.  He pretends to be reading, and covers his face.

Just then, Spino’s computer buzzes.  The line of encrypted code that was keeping him from accessing the full Day of Wonders program has been decrypted!  He and Cindy are psyched!  I’m kind of excited too, though I can’t tell whether this is because the movie has done a good job of building anticipation or if my expectations are just that low.

Either way, Spino puts on the virtual reality helmet and is confronted with a giant guillotine.  He slices his finger on the blade and starts screaming.  When he takes off the headset, his finger is still bleeding.

WTF DUDE I TOLD YOU NOT TO MESS WITH THE MATRIX!

He tells Cindy and then Helen that this must be supernatural.  The program is supposed to contain nothing but images.  This gives Helen an idea.

Meanwhile, Thorold is trying to … well, I’m not sure what he’s trying to do.  He’s standing in front of a panel full of wires and is switching wires around.  I hope this isn’t Cloud Ten’s interpretation of uploading a computer virus.  Someone almost catches him, but he hides in the ceiling.

Meanwhile meanwhile, Creepy False Prophet manages to get even creepier.  He’s standing with a couple of hooded guys in front of an altar with a flaming upside down cross in the background. He drinks from a goblet of what might be wine, but I’m going to assume it’s blood because CREEPY.  

I like this scene.  I could easily picture it in a TV fantasy series that gets decent ratings.  The poem that he chants could be less obvious–We get that you’re evil from the whole chanting about the Fall of Man in front of an upside down cross thing, so you really don’t need to spell it out for us–but the soundtrack is sufficiently ominous, and the flickering candles in the background build a nice atmosphere.

Creepy

“The real wonders are pride and greed!”
Damn.  From the context, I was expecting puppies.

The refrain of the chant/prayer is, “Let the Day of Wonders begin!”  So looks like it’s begun.

Back at the hideout, with the ominous music from the last scene still fading out, an analog clock flips to midnight.  The computer starts to make noise and Cindy, startled, puts on the headset.

She sees Franco Maculousso standing there.  I won’t bother to mention that it’s a completely different actor from the Macalousso in the first movie because 1) Ivan already did, and 2) I find this actor to be a much more convincing Antichrist than the last one.

Did you catch the first sentence in that paragraph though?  Cindy can see him.  For some reason, she thinks that having vision is way cooler than listening to Jack Van Impe.  She’s so happy she’s practically crying.  Macalousso starts pointing out all of the beautiful things she can now see, and Cindy reacts as if she’s seeing them.  We don’t see them, though, which is weird.  How hard is it to insert a three-second shot of a sunset into the film?  Maybe the insinuation is that they aren’t real, but we could see the beach that Stone and Spino were standing on earlier, and that wasn’t real either.  Huh.  I don’t know.

Finally, Macalousso offers to give her sight, not only within the virtual world, but in the real one.  The catch is that she has to declare him God.  She does, and he brands her hand with a 666.  It looks like it hurts, but she’s so psyched to be able to see that she doesn’t seem to notice.

Maybe things have turned out ok for Cindy after all.  She’s going to rot in hell eventually, but that was going to happen anyway since she wasn’t a Christian.  At least she’ll get to see the world for a few years before God destroys it.

While this is happening, Hannah is explaining her idea to the others: the false prophet is supposed to create an image of the Beast that will look and sound like the original. Just like the images of Antichrist found in the VR program! *gasp*

So … wait. Is Creepy False Prophet not the false prophet?  He seemed the obvious candidate in Apocalypse; as leader of the world news agency, he was literally promoting the Antichrist’s image. Now we’re being told that the false prophet is actually responsible for the VR program. Does that make Spino the false prophet?  Is the VR program itself the false prophet? (Nowhere in the Bible does it say either beast is human.) Are we supposed to assume that Creepy False Prophet is still the false prophet and was actually behind the VR program the whole time? Or is he just a creepy dude with magic powers? Maybe he’s another Biblical character, like the Whore of Babylon or something. I wouldn’t judge.

But who needs further explanation?!  The movie moves on. Cindy tells Spino she can see, and they’re both really happy about this. (As anyone would be!) In the next scene, they approach Helen Hannah, and Spino tells her that he’s found God.  Except the geniuses forget to cover up the giant 666s on their hands, so their cover is blown after about 30 seconds.  A couple of arguments ensue over whose god is better, during which two notable things happen:

1) Spino tries to shoot his sister, which Cindy thinks is pretty funny.  He misses her, so he shoots his dog instead. NO! CURSE YOU, MACALOUSSO, AND YOUR ANTI-PUPPY REGIME!

2) Hannah’s friend announces that its no use arguing with them because “their souls are gone.”

So this is interesting.  Until a minute ago, these characters were mildly sarcastic but not murderous. What is happening here?  Are they still themselves but minus a conscience? Are their souls in hell already, and they’re nothing but bodies?  Are they possessed by murderous demons? This raises all sorts of puzzles about free will that I hope the movie will answer, though I suspect it won’t.

Helen escapes with Ronnie while Spino calls Stone and tells him the virus won’t work unless the program is running.  He gets Stone to put on a headset. Cindy tells him that his plan was perfect and kisses him on the cheek.  Evilly.  I guess.

Stone puts on the headset and sees his family.  It’s sweet.  What part of this is supposed to indicate pride or greed, I’m not sure.  Macalousso says he can be with them today in exchange for his allegiance, ditto, ditto, etc. etc.

“Today?” says Stone.  “What about the rest of eternity?”

Everyone gets this awkward look on their faces like they don’t know how to answer that question.  So … what, they’re not allowed to lie?  Because it might go better for Macalousso if, when people accuse him of being Satan, he could just say, “What?  No, I’m just a really nice person.  Seriously, why would you think I’m Satan?”  He doesn’t even have to lie, come to think of it.  What about, “Sure I’m God’s enemy, but remember the entire Old Testament?  Do you really want to worship that god anyway?”

Instead, he turns all evil and has his VR goons drag Stone to the guillotine.  As he’s being snapped in, Stone asks when Macalousso’s going to reveal to all of his followers that he’s really Satan.

“Tomorrow,” he says.

Wow, he expects this plan to go off without a hitch in under 24 hours?  He hasn’t spent much time actually living on earth, has he?  A computer glitch, a power outage, a single Christian taking off their headset too soon or deciding not to put it on … any of those things will completely ruin his plan.  Those things can be fixed given time, but not in one day.

*Story idea: I’d love to see a Rapture movie end with Satan failing, not because God comes back, but because he has no idea how poorly humans follow instructions.  He comes to earth with these elaborate take-over schemes, but the human race is so incompetent that he finally goes, “Ah, screw it!” and leaves.*

With Stone chained up and about to die in the Matrix, Helen and Ronnie save him by taking off the VR headset just in the nick of time.  Then they upload the virus to a computer, but it’s downloading slowly, and the guards are coming.  They burn the program onto a second disk and hide the monitor that the real disc is uploading on.  

Creepy Not The False Prophet Anymore walks in–wait, I don’t know what to call him now.  His name’s Parker, so I guess I’ll just call him Parker.

Anyway, Parker the Ambiguous Character walks into the room, followed by Spino and Cindy. They take the decoy disc and destroy it, but unbeknownst to them the real disc is still running.

After that, Parker throws the three Christians into a furnace where Selma Davis and the boy with the Bible in his room are already waiting. The electronic door takes a while to open, and Spino realizes its because the virus is still running somewhere and slowing everything else down. He and Cindy run upstairs to stop it.  They find the computer, unplug it, and then destroy it.  But lo and behold!  The monitor is imbued with the power of God!  The virus loads anyway.

Parker turns the furnace up to full blast, but the Christians don’t die.  Aw, God has saved them. That’s nice of God.  You know what would also have been nice?  Restoring Cindy’s eyesight when she asked him to, so that she wouldn’t rot in hell for eternity.  Or saving Stone’s best friend and partner, so that he wouldn’t rot in hell for eternity.  Nice of him to save the lives of the people who are already guaranteed an utterly blissful afterlife.

Ass.

Parker opens the door to shoot them, but he forgets to turn off the furnace first, and a fireball flies out at him.  I guess he can die now that he’s a not officially a Biblical character. Sorry, Parker.

In the next scene, the Christians are sitting around watching the news, including Helen, Thorold, and Ronnie.  Macalousso announces that the Haters (*snerk*) have burnt down the O.N.E. building, presumably taking Cindy and Spino with it. (Cindy, nooo!) He also says that the Day of Wonders has been postponed.  The Christians cheer, and Thorold Stone pulls out a picture of his family.  He looks up to the sky and smiles because he knows they’re in heaven now.

By proxy that means three of his friends are currently burning in hell.  But what, who said anything about them, right?  They were jerks for, like, wanting eyesight and stuff.

Happy ending!

It's Over

Whew, so that was … a movie.  It’s not saying much, but Revelation was way better than the first one.  There were actually moments when I was curious to see what happened next.  I was sorry to see Cindy and Spino reach such bad ends though.  Cindy’s didn’t surprise me, but I didn’t expect Spino to be punished–he wasn’t even a vegetarian!  I guess I’ll have to watch Tribulation and Judgment if only to see whether Parker has survived. And whether his role has been taken over by the VR machine or if he’s still officially the false prophet.  I haven’t decided whether or not to review them yet.

So a couple of things before I go back to letting grad school devour me.  First, don’t forget to check out the other reviews of Revelation by Ivan at Heathen Critique and Diamanda Hagan, Empress of Haganistan!  It takes more than one reviewer to truly capture the dreadfulness contained in these movies.

Secondly, this review has been done in a different style than my usual posts. Most of my previous reviews have been general overviews of a given story, whereas this one was more of a scene by scene analysis. I’m trying to figure out whether this is something I want to keep doing.  

On the one hand, I really enjoy reading scene by scene analyses, and they seem to be popular among the blogs I frequent.  On the other hand, they take a long time to write (I’m on hour 7 for this particular post), so I can’t do them very often.  Plus, between Fred Clark, Mouse’s Musings, ApocalypseReview, and Heathen Critique, I’m wondering if it’s a niche that’s already been filled.  Maybe the internet doesn’t need anymore breakdowns of Rapture stories.  Maybe I should stick to broad reviews of Apocalypses.

I dunno.  I’ll think about it between now and August, when my degree will be done and I can find a job that pays enough to live on spend all my time writing!  If you guys have any feedback or a preference for which style you’d rather see more of, let me know!

Thanks for reading!

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6 thoughts on “Revelation Part 3: Pride, Greed, and Puppies

  1. I also thought for a moment that Parker/CFPG/MacEvilton had done something slightly clever and put his message to Thorold on a recording that he knew was being leaked. But I went back and checked the scene in the hideout, and MacEvilton’s message does not appear to come from the recording device, but from some walky-talky lying a bit further away on the table. So he’s still stupid.

    Totally with you on how stupid it is for Thorold to do the break-in. Especially since the guy who brought the recording just came back from infiltrating the place. He has an intact cover, and no one will know he’s a traitor by sight. They should’ve sent him instead. (BTW, I think the wire-cutting is Thorold disabling an alarm)

    I love how Cindy’s fall, and by extention Willie’s, could’ve been prevented if Helen had reacted immediately when she realized the VR package was a vessel for the mark of the beast, instead of finding and playing a video tape with a preacher explaining that it is (well, not really, the evidence Helen uses to reach that conclusion is paper thin, but the movie pretends it isn’t).

    And yeah, one of the infuriating things about that turn to evil is how poorly explained it is. Cindy’s first act after turning evil is to show to Willie how awesome the mark is, yet once Willie takes the mark they both turn homicidal. More than that, they become extremely eager to make the antichrist’s plan work, and are incredibly upset when the sabotage succeeds, even though they still have their eyesight/ability to walk. If they just had no conscience, you’d think they’d have a “Screw you, I got mine”-attitude towards this whole mark-thing.

    • (Followed here from the pingback at Heathen Critique)

      Usually I have to tell people to stop focusing on plot: the things that happen should arise from the characters. This is a slightly different problem: Stone is the Designated Hero, and therefore all the neat stuff that gets done has to be done by him. (One could make a very effective film emphasising the collective action of the Christians vs the personality cult of the Antichrist, but it wouldn’t pander to the RTC fantasy of being a Big Important Man doing Big Importand Things.)

      As for Cindy and Willie, I think this is the echo chamber problem again: the people who made this film have probably never had a civil conversation with someone who isn’t an RTC (beyond “today’s special is steaming piles of produce”), all they know about them is the scare stories that they help to pass on, so they simply can’t write them in a realistic manner — any more than I (white, living in the UK) would be able to write a convincing Black Panther without doing any research.

      • Darn, Ivan, I really wanted to give Parker props for that recording! I guess it’s just as well that he dies at the end, because I’d assume the Antichrist would only be so forgiving about the number of jobs he’s botched. I’m gonna have to go back and rewatch that scene to figure out how Parker accessed the walky-talky.

        And 100% agreement on the point that Ronnie would have been the ideal person to send to plant the virus! He would have been a more interesting Designated Hero too: a Christian trying to blend in with the Macalousso’s admirers without getting caught or betraying his principles.

        Firedrake, glad you’re here! I think you’re absolutely right about Willie and Cindy’s sudden turn to evil as a result of the echo chamber problem. One of the most frustrating things about Rapture movies is the fact that everyone responsible for plot/characterization seem to have refused to do any research on the people the film is about. Are they afraid they’ll find out we’re not so bad? (I say it’s frustrating, but it’s one of the most fun things to snark about :p.)

      • To be honest, if Parker’s ransom demand had been on the stolen recording, I’d have pointed out that this could mean two things: Either Parker knew Ronny was a traitor with contacts to Thorold, yet didn’t simply follow Ronny to the hideout. Or he’d just spend an afternoon recording that message on every audio log that a Christian infiltrator might find remotely interesting, in the hopes one of them would get stolen. Hey, Thorold wouldn’t know about the dozens of tapes where Parker claims he “knows” Thorold is listening to, and he’ll get spooked if he does happen to listen to one of them.

        The sad thing is that I can see the movie is trying to foreshadow that Willie and Cindy will turn evil, but it does it so ineptly that it becomes offensive. The movie repeatedly shows that they really, really aren’t RTCs. But they aren’t shown to be the selfish jerks that Helen says those who follow Macalousso are. Willie especially has spend half the movie putting in effort and risking his life to help the Christians. And yet suddenly he’s portrayed as gleefully joining in the killing spree in exchange for working legs.

        And then there’s the weird scene where Willie reluctantly announces he has written a virus and Cindy tries to shush him and kicks him under the table. Which would imply Cindy doesn’t want to stop the day of wonders… except that there seems to be no reason for it. When she puts on the goggles, she’s stunned and amazed. She doesn’t seem to have been expecting that it’d give her her eyesight back.

        It would’ve made some kind of sense if her response to seeing Macalousso would be something like “Ah, so my foolish parents were right about you and the miracles you’d do for people who’d follow you. Well, I’m willing to not only join you, but I’ve positioned myself in the ranks of your enemies and can sell them out to you whenever I want. So, let’s talk price!” But that doesn’t happen, so I have no idea what Cindy was supposed to be thinking when she tried to stop Willie.

  2. I suspect very few people who aren’t RTCs will be interested in writing Rapture stories. (OK, there was Right Behind.) People outside mostly don’t care, people inside want orthodoxy, so there’s no market. Which is a shame, because it’s a really interesting medium by which to criticise the theology.

    Ivan, do we just have to write this off to sloppy scriptwriting? Or are they trying to say “unsaved people are wildly inconsistent and self-destructive”?

    • Can’t be completely certain of course. But if I’d have to guess, I’d say that it’s a little bit of both. I suspect that it’s bad writing inspired by a low opinion of non-Christians. If they aren’t saved, they will do any bad thing, even if there isn’t a particular reason for it. I doubt they consciously thought about how inconsistent the unsaved behaved here, all you need to know is that they did things that inconvenience the Christians.

      To be fair, it could also be that they really intended to make Willie and Cindy’s fall a tragic affair where well-meaning people’s weaknesses were exploited by a nefarious villain. But if that was the message they wanted to send, they did so pretty incompetently.

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