There is a scene early on in writer/director Diana Angelson's The Second Coming of Christ that is, I'll confess somewhat surprisingly, a rather riveting piece of dramatic cinema. The scene draws us into the final moments of Christ's life, a familiar scenario to any person of faith yet moments difficult to portray on screen without making it seem otherworldly. Less extended and graphic than Mel Gibson's most widely embraced portrayal in The Passion of the Christ, Angelson's approach here is one of almost jarring intimacy, the subtle cruelty of nearby guards contrasting with the riveting devotion of those followers present and aware of what is unfolding.
I must confess that in the moments that I watched that initial scene unfold that I found myself getting in touch with faith on a level that, if I must confess, has felt a little distant as of late.
In other words, it was tremendously effective filmmaking and marvelously set the tone for everything else about to unfold.
While the rest of The Second Coming of Christ is set in more contemporary times, there is a similar commitment to exploring both the intimacy and the universality of faith in rather extraordinary ways. The film centers around Dr. Beatrix Cera, portrayed by Angelson, a groundbreaking entomologist hired by New World Genetics Corporation, the leader in genetically engineered foods, to research both the causes and effects of increasingly dying crops worldwide. It's a devastating issue and it's having a devastating impact worldwide with food shortages and starvation around every corner. Dr. Cera discovers that years of experimentation within food sources and the food chain has resulted in a deadly mutation occurring within the crops, a mutation amplified by the pollinators, or bees, spreading the mutation to plant life globally.
The impact is, as one might expect, globally devastating as plant life does followed by animal life and, in increasing numbers, humanity itself.
The Second Coming of Christ contains within it both a unique voice and a presentation that will likely be familiar to fans of faith-based cinema, particularly those who identify as Christian. I often distinguish faith-based cinema by referring to it as either "preachy," designed to preach and appeal to persons of faith, or "reachy," designed to reach a wider audience and, at times, to even cross over into wider appeal. There's little doubt that The Second Coming of Christ falls into the "preachy" category, an unabashed and completely pro-faith film that ultimately comes down to the message that there isn't a single man or woman who has an answer that will save it - only God has the answer. In the film, Dr. Cera begins her journey as an atheist, somewhat irritated that daughter Alba (Jessica Zhou) has become enamored by a street preacher named John (Jason London, Dazed and Confused) whose words seem to bring her comfort during these hard times.
The Second Coming of Christ received the Dove Foundation's Seal of Approval for ages 12 and over, a seal that affirms the film's faith friendliness while acknowledging the subject matter and presentation may occasionally be a bit much for smaller children.
The Second Coming of Christ has within its ensemble ranks quite a few semi-familiar faces with most serving in more secondary roles including Quinton Aaron (The Blind Side), Natalie Burn (Expendables 3), Al Sapienza (Sopranos - House of Cards), Golden Globe Nominee Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan), and Oscar-nominated Sally Kirkland (JFK, Bruce Almighty).
The Second Coming of Christ isn't a flawless film with occasional stilted dialogue falling flat and leading to the occasional stilted acting, though it's a largely effective and involving film that should appeal to its target audience with its unique portrayal of the apocalypse and relentless faith that miracles happen when we surrender our lives to God.
Scheduled for a DVD release on March 6th with Inspired Family Entertainment, The Second Coming of Christ is the kind of film that will leave you talking about the images and words that unfold and it may very well trigger discussions on faith, commitment, facing adversity and more.
For more information on the film, visit its official Facebook page linked to in the credits.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic