« Nicky Cruz film update, and more | Main | Sand dunes in three dimensions, please! »

July 25, 2009

Archangels with machine guns at the end of the world

legion.jpg
It's getting to the point where you could almost base a small theology course on Paul Bettany movies.

The actor has already played an albino assassin monk in The Da Vinci Code, a priest on the lam who joins a medieval morality-play troupe in The Reckoning, and a famous scientist who wrestles with his doubts in the upcoming biopic Creation, and he will soon star in the comic-book adaptation Priest as a man of the cloth who turns against the church to track down some vampires who have kidnapped his niece.

Right now, however, the religion-themed movie of his that's getting all the attention is Legion, in which Bettany will play the machine-gun-toting archangel Michael; director Scott Stewart appeared with co-stars Bettany, Tyrese Gibson and others at the San Diego Comic-Con to promote the film yesterday, and they unveiled a new poster for the film and a few clips, besides.

The premise of this film is more than a little cheesy, not to mention theologically suspect. As Variety put it last year:
Scripted by Stewart and Peter Schink, the thriller casts Bettany as the archangel Michael, the only one standing between mankind and an apocalypse, after God loses faith in humanity. Man's lone hope rests with a group of strangers who must deliver a baby they realize is Christ in his second coming.
And whereas the word "Legion" typically brings to mind the many demons who possessed a single man in Jesus' day (Mark 5:9; Luke 8:30), an even earlier story from Variety indicates that this movie is called Legion because "God loses faith in humanity and sends his legion of angels to wipe out the human race for the second time."

And so, FilmoFilia indicates that one of the villains against whom Michael does battle will apparently be the archangel Gabriel, played here by Kevin Durand. (Durand would not be the first actor to play Gabriel as a bad guy; Christopher Walken did it in The Prophecy and its sequels, as did Tilda Swinton in Constantine.)

Personally, I can sort-of handle a movie that imagines what might happen if Gabriel or one of the other "good" angels turns bad. I'm not very keen on the idea, for the same reason I wouldn't be very keen on the idea of movies that depict my friends or family members as bad guys; if we really believe that Gabriel exists and plays a role in our lives, then we can't just treat him as another mythical figure to re-invent as we will. But a part of me appreciates how the shock of seeing Gabriel as a villain can remind us of what it must have been like when Lucifer turned against God.

No, there is something else that bugs me about this movie's premise. Two things, actually.

First, the idea that God would lose faith in humanity and try to wipe us out again. In the other films where Gabriel has turned into a bad guy, he has done so in rebellion against God. But here, it seems that he is working on God's behalf, in which case God himself would seem to be a bad guy, too; at any rate, the heroic Michael, by fighting Gabriel and all the other angels, would ultimately be fighting against God himself.

What makes this movie's premise even more puzzling is the idea that Christ is already here, inside a woman's womb. Why would the God of this film try to wipe out humanity so soon after sending his Son back to Earth?

And that brings me to my second beef with this movie's premise, namely the idea that the Second Coming will be just like the first, with Jesus being born as a baby, etc. Seriously, it never ceases to amaze me how many secular apocalyptic films pursue this line of thought, from Omen III: The Final Conflict to Bless the Child. It completely misses the point of what the Second Coming is all about. It's not going to be a mere reincarnation.

What makes this movie even more of a curiosity is that it features at least two actors who have been rather open about their own Christian faith. Dennis Quaid spoke to us a few years ago about his spiritual journey (he discussed it at the time with Beliefnet, too); and Doug Jones has talked about how he almost turned down the part of Abe Sapien in Hellboy until he read the script and realized how it "nurtured and challenged" his faith. I'd be curious to know what appealed to them about this script.

(Well, okay, Jones, at least, did discuss this point at Comic-Con yesterday, as per the video clip to the right; he says the film explores the possibility that mankind might be "in a place today that would bring about another flood, as in the days of Noah." Make of that what you will.)

Finally, Charles S. Dutton is playing a character named Percy Walker. That has to be some kind of strange in-joke.

Related Tags: bless the child, creation, da vinci code, final conflict, legion, omen, priest

Comments

What's with all these end of the world/theology films?
Is this a sign the world is really coming to an end?
Or is it just before religious subjects were sensitive issues but now nobody cares??

Well, since no one knows when Christ will return, the movie makers certainly don't know. I think that religious topics are just popular right now. Movie studios make what they think will make money.

What I find somewhat disturbing is the progression of the "demonizing" of what is supposed to be good, and the elevation of mankind as people who are basically good.

1. So now God is the bad guy. In LEGION, He is tired of humanity and decides to kickstart the end of the world. He sends a legion of angels to start the job and sends Gabriel to do a special task...

...to kill a woman pregnant with Christ.

Never mind the fact Christ isn't going to come as a baby again--God has become Don Corleone and sends a heavenly hitman to kill His own Son!

2. Michael, one of the premier warrior angels, descends to earth, and one of his first acts is to remove a metal collar around his neck (seen in the trailer). Last time I checked, God abhorred slavery, so why would He collar one of His devoted angels like Kunta Kinte?

3. The ambiguity of the monstrous forms converging on the diner to destroy the baby Christ. (The first being an ice-cream truck driver, the second being a policeman possessed by something that turns his teeth to cannibal points, and the third being a kindly-looking grandmother-type who starts speaking profane warnings, tears the throat out of someone with a similar set of teeth, then crawls along the ceiling like the demon-possessed old woman in Exorcist 3: Legion--perhaps an homage?)

When asked about who is coming to destroy her child, Michael simply says, "Angels." Uhm, a little clarification? If he means demons or fallen angels, that would make some sense, but it could sound like God's own angels are behind the monstrous behavior. If that's true, is God now taking pages from Satan's playbook by possessing people to do monstrous things? Hopefully the movie will be somewhat enlightening, but right now everything terrible seems to be coming from God alone, monsters and all.

4. "God loses faith in humanity..." There's a loaded concept if ever was one. Although God has passed judgment on the Israelites and other peoples before, He KNOWS we're unworthy of salvation; that's why He sent His Son to die on the cross, to save us by grace.

...and then He gets tired of us screwing up over and over (as one person is heard quoting, "...He got tired of all the bulls**t") and decides to cut loose on us. It might appeal to the public that if there was a God, He would have plenty of reason to wipe the earth clean of human life, but they make God sound like a tired parent who wants to put all the kids to bed before going to sleep Himself.

End result? Much controversy, but real Christians won't want to watch The Bible Acording to Hollywood.
Controversy may sell tickets, but I'm not even considering spending any money on this loaded weapon.

First.Praise Lord God. And I rebuke the spell and or trance that you maybe in. Sorry about messy typing. Conformity caused us to be like angels. We are supposed to go out and be like christian angels. Vehicles with helpful stuff for true christians Time travel happened and evil angels know information about actions of sanctified. Romans 3:23_God will work with us. But have a relationship with God. Dont worry I planted a christian seed.We got stand for the Lord Jesus. Thousnds of evil humans and evil angels hate Jesus. Evn us gov dont understand because some of them maybe occult. Do not say that you are christian when you are not It violates your commitment. Thank you. psa99:9-outside pray. col 3:11. gal 3:3. Romans 3:23-Lord God will work with us. Choose righteousness not selfrighteousness. Hammering process cd and gospel gangstas was neato. Lord God is 50-100 foot greatest angel.Write the stuff down with an old pen and paper. Be ready. Go east MO area.

This is ridiculous. Jesus is God!!!! So God is sending his angels to destroy himself ? Hollywood must have consulted with mormons, muslims and jehovah witnesses who deny that Jesus is God Almighty in the flesh. True Christians know that the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are all the same ONE GOD ALMIGHTY, not 3 different Gods. Hence the Holy Trinity.

When we look at the media. it seems that the depiction of right and wrong is seeing a role reversal. What was bad is now good and vice versa. When I saw the trailer for this film, I felt nauseous. There is definitely a concerted effort to, at best, distort the teachings of the Bible.
Fundamentalism has been negatively associated with those crazy people who actually believe the Bible is true. This film is no different, it introduces the concept that God might be evil. It's not too far reaching to expect to see a film come out stating that Satan is the loving savior, in the not too distant future.
I have heard people say over and over, it is just a song or it's only a movie. But when you see the influence that rock music and secular movies have played in our society, it is hard to ignore the fact that what we see and hear does influence us! It is a shame that we fall into these traps over and over, stating free speech and artistic expression. Don't let the atheists and satanists be the only ones who are heard, It's time for Christians to stand for what we believe in.

I stumbled across this blog trying to find out more about this movie. As a religion teacher, I'm always fascinated by the use of christian (and any religious) symbols in popular media. From Lost to House to movies like this, it seems that the ban on christian symbols is gone, and I like that.
Symbols need to be used and abused, because that shows the many interpretations and visions of people. And symbols are only interesting when they reveal something, not when they're kept clean.

I do like the idea of this movie, though. It may be theological nonsense, but it does ask a couple of very interesting questions. For instance: in Noah's days God sent a flood. Who's to say he won't do that again? And if he does it again, will he save someone? Just Steve Carrell, perhaps?
In origin, in Jewish lore, angels are simply the messengers of God. Lucifer uses free will to rebel against God (a very human thing to do) and is cast out. God doesn't like to argue with his minions, it seems. So what would make an angel turn against God? Why do we assume that rebellion against God has to be bad? How do we reconcile the vengeful and often cruel God of the Old Testament (and yes, he has his moments in the NT as well) with the God of love and forgiveness that we find in the psalms and the teachings of Jesus? Does God ever change his mind? If we are like God, does that mean he gets jealous (he seems to be jealous of Baal) or pissed off? And if he does, does that make him imperfect? And if he's imperfect, should we stop worshipping?

Asking those questions, even in the form of an entertainment film, is never a bad thing. I'm looking forward to this one, anyway. There's not enough Dennis Quaid around these days.

Elke, like you, I stumbled onto this blog while researching the movie trailer I just saw. All I can say about all of your questions is that if you're asking or insinuating such questions, then why are you teaching religion? To beleive is to do so without question. Yeah, we mortals may ask absud questions, but a sound spiritual mind will come back to reason with the Lord, ask for forgiveness and then go back to using faith as the answer. Being Christian my entire 37 years, I've never once asked some of the odd-ball questions you feel are good to ask. I thought an education was a good thing; however, God help it and you too!

Nick,
Remember-Elke said he taught religion, not that he was a Christian. Unfortunately though, many so-called Christians will watch this trash. I boldly say "so-called" because those that willingly subject themselves to such garbage that perverts the gospel can not possibly truly believe the gospel as presented by Jesus and His apostles and prophets.
We should expect that Satan will use movies like this to pervert the simple truth of the gospel and confuse the uninitiated. But shame on those of us who have named the name of Christ and support trash like this with the money that God has blessed us with.

Sounds like the film could remind those familiar with the Book of Enoch of the story of the Watchers (fallen angels) and how God sent his archangels, Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, Uriel and Suriel, to excite and instigate the children of the Watchers as well as all earth's sinners to war against one another and killing each other.

Dear Editor

This movie truly reflects the departure from fundamental Biblical truth that plagues the earth. Scriptures teach that that the fall of angels was a one time event.

I do not agree with the movie that Archangel Michael could ever fall into sin.

Thanks for this review

Sincerely
Mercedes

for me it;s not a good movie, but i like it .. :)
funny and entertaining - regardless about angel/religion.

i didn't get a conclusion that the baby is meant as Jesus.
it's just an ordinary baby -
which "written" (by God) has to die, and Michael is the bearer to "kill" the baby.

Putting aside the ridiculous angel with a human weapon,
for me, the movie is more a battle / (or a test ?)
between Michael and Gabrielle.

Gabrielle represents
people go blindly with their faith,
no question - no mercy

Michael represents
people struggle with their faith,
have question - have mercy

and who "wins" ?
the one with mercy (and love).

shopping