‘The Encounter: Paradise Lost’ (2012)

Ahhhh, Christian movies. Don’t we all love them? Yea me either, but there are some that I like. Preferably the ones that are rated R, that way they can be as realistic as possible, without feeling as if they have to shelter an audience. If anyone wants to know the Christian movies I actually like, ask and you shall receive an answer. So Bruce Marchiano is an actor that has played Jesus a few times, he plays it in such a way that is usually unique to other interpretations, and he usually does a good job. Last year his movie “The Encounter” was released, and this year “The Encounter: Paradise Lost” was released, and they did something huge and moved to China to film, which is unusual for many Christian films. Did it do it justice thought?

This film centered around one of the more severe natural disasters of our time, the tsunami that hit Phuket, Thailand. Rik Caperna (David A.R. White) is a cop that has been after a criminal for a while, and the film first focuses on him trying to track him down. Disobeying orders from his superior, Rik tracks the man down to a resort with four other strangers. They then all become stranded together in the resort, and are met by Jesus Christ.…. Beforehand, they were also all spied on by Jesus, who we learn lured them together.

Each of these individuals have pain so severe that Jesus is there to heal them, and if they don’t accept him, then they will die of a hurricane. PAUSE…the first movie did this too, Jesus warns them about their impending doom if they don’t accept him. I know that is more symbolizing for Hell and all that, but holy cow that sounds like blackmail to me.

Normally I have a slideshow here, but this film is so below-the-radar that the only image I could find of it was the poster. So imagine a slideshow here. 

This is a Christian film, which makes it incredibly hard to critique. So I will do it as I do any other movie, I will talk about the writing, and acting and all that, but Christian movies need two things – 1.) a good message. 2.) does it project that message to anyone BUT Christians? That one is the absolute most important. There is more to it than that, but I’ll get to that in a second.

I’ve said it once, I’ve said it twice, I’ve said it thrice. I have said it so many times my throat has been swollen. The biggest problem that Christian films have continually had is the “sit-down”, where friends or loved ones sit down together, and says “Have you ever thought about accepting Jesus Christ?” I cannot explain how ridiculous and unrealistic that is. It’s what we are ALL expecting to happen in these movies, making Christian films THE MOST predictable genre in the world. However…I do make an exception, however rare, it has to have one element. God, an angel, or Jesus HAS to be the one that asks the question. “The Encounter” and “The Encounter: Paradise Lost” has a plot that is…for lack of a better definition: A sit-down movie.

The second biggest problem they have had is a misguided attempt to connect with non-Christians. Those may be part of the target audience, but here is what happens…you ready? Because this goes into the first and second elements above. The thought was nice, it had an important message, but hardly ever has a Christian movie escaped the stereotype of being seen by only Christians. That’s what happens, they are telling an important message to people that already know it, and the people that aren’t Christians laugh at it, because it’s stupid.

The first film got to the point faster than this one did, and when I say get to the point, I mean get all the strangers together in one room for the remainder of the movie. Sure, it tried to get some character development in there as well, but their character development was pretty weak all on its own. We don’t know enough about the characters to feel any kind of connection with, or care if they live or die. The movie is also almost, ALMOST completely identical to the first. Sure it was a different venue, but in the end…..I hate to say it but the first was better in every way.

Bruce has always done a good job generally playing Jesus ever since his role in the mini-series “Matthew”. The only thing is…that comedy that he has always brought with him in “Matthew” and the first film in this series was completely lost in this one. Without that comedy side, anyone else could have played Jesus, yeah this is a series, but Bruce really needs that aspect for his role as Jesus. It’s the one thing that made his unique from any other portrayal. I’m tired of David A.R. White. In person, he’s actually a decently funny guy, in movies, no matter how hard he tries, he doesn’t come off as believable as a serious or funny guy. I’ll just blame the writing there (at least for the comedy). The violence, what little they had of it was a joke, they must have had some seriously rotten wood when they hit one of the main characters, because they hit him ever so slowly and the wood broke up into pieces.

The bottom line is that this film isn’t as strong as its predecessor, and that’s not saying much. I do like Bruce Marchiano for some reason, but he didn’t bring his A game this time. Sorry, religious folk.

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