The latest van Heerden release, "Deceived," is described in the press kit as inspired by "Contact" and "Seven," but is really closer to the old "Star Trek" episode "The Naked Time." More playful than the dire "Apocalypse" movies, it's set in a deserted observatory (erroneously referred to in the movie as a "space station") where everyone's worst sin emerges. Then a weary-looking Judd Nelson realizes what's going on: SETI@Home, the distributed-computing project for analyzing signals from space, is functioning as no less than Satan's own peer-to-peer AudioGalaxy network.
When a signal arrives with a suspicious duration of 6.66 seconds, the usual archetypal characters from rapture movies have their own plans for it. Louis Gossett Jr., as a power-mad general, wants to control it. A crackpot New Age radio host -- the kind of comic-relief character only found in Christian entertainment -- begins raving about how the signal will "evolve" humans to a "higher consciousness" (evolution frequently appears in these movies in conjunction with madness.) The eyebrow-cocking "dot-com billionaire" wants to sell it, exclaiming: "It'll be the biggest webcast in history!" And the lusty TV reporter, naturally, wants to corrupt Judd.
But when the foxiest lady around, a chaste space scientist and Christian role model (well-toned Michelle Nolden) persuades Nelson that the signal is evil, and thus shouldn't be studied, good wins out. All the un-Christian players who thought they were sophisticated receive comeuppances. The once-proud anchorwoman asks to borrow the Bible. Carl Sagan rolls in his grave.
It's all a matter of perspective.
Tuesday, September 03, 2002
Salon has an article this morning detailing the sad world of Christian end-times movies. A world so sad, in fact, that I lost interest after about half of the article. If anyone makes it all the way to the end, tell me what happened. This is the passage that made me change the channel: