Dear Paul Lalonde, Co-Writer/Producer
You don’t know this, but you shaped my childhood in a large way. My father is super into End Times Prophecy, and my family used to watch This Week In Bible Prophecy (the show you co-hosted with your brother Peter), which disseminated how the weekly world news was actually fulfilling the prophecies of Revelation. My dad also read several of Tim LaHaye’s (co-author of the Left Behind series of novels) “non-fiction” works, so I am well-versed on your theological stance.
But I’m not here to debate that. I’m here to talk about your storytelling skills.
Somehow, I came into this movie without ever having read the novels or seeing the first trilogy of films based on them. I had fresh eyes. I also tried really hard not to let my now-atheistic beliefs bias me against your film.
But here’s the thing: despite the surprisingly competent – dare I say good – performances of the film’s stars, they really didn’t have much to work with. The only two things that really happen in the entire film are: 1) all the Christians and children suddenly disappear about halfway through, and 2) a plane almost crashes. That’s barely enough to sustain an episode of an hour-long television episode, let alone a 110-minute film (and I’m currently binge-watching the episodes of Supernatural dealing with the Apocalypse, so I should know).
Religious beliefs aside, both the Rapture (an event which, strangely, is never referred to in the film as such) and the Apocalypse are fascinating stories that offer a lot of potential. It’s a shame you wasted them here. Maybe that’s the fault of Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins – like I said, I haven’t read the source material, so I don’t know what you were working with – but, as the co-writer AND the producer, you had the opportunity to do more.
One final aside: I know the producers make the final decision when it comes to the score, so you should know that it’s pretty shlocky at times.
Return to Sender (2 stars)
Directed by: Vic Armstrong
Written by: Paul Lalonde, John Patus
Chad Michael Murray