Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Left Behind: World at War

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence

Reviewed by: Douglas Downs

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Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience:
Adults Teens Family
Christian Thriller End-Times Drama
1 hr. 35 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
October 21, 2005 (wide simultaneous showings in churches)
DVD: October 25, 2005
Featuring: Louis Gossett Jr., Kirk Cameron, Brad Johnson, Chelsea Noble, Christopher Bondy, Krista Bridges, Leslie Carlson, Laura Catalano, Neil Crone, Gordon Currie, Tim Eddis, David Eisner, Richard Fitzpatrick, Colin Fox, David Macniven, Lubomir Mykytiuk, Louis Negin, Arnold Pinnock, Sandi Ross, Charles Martin Smith, Jessica Steen, Janaya Stephens, Jeff Teravainen
Director: Craig R. Baxley
Producer: Cloud Ten Pictures
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Copyright, Cloud Ten Pictures
Copyright, Cloud Ten Pictures
Copyright, Cloud Ten Pictures
Copyright, Cloud Ten Pictures
Copyright, Cloud Ten Pictures
Copyright, Cloud Ten Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Cloud Ten Pictures

Read what the bible has to say about The Return of Christ:
Matthew 24:27, 29-31, 34, 36-44
John 14:1-4
Acts 1:11
I Corinthians 15:51-57
I Thessalonians 4:13-18
I Timothy 4:1-3
II Timothy 3:1-5, 4:1-8
Titus 2:13
II Peter 3:3-13
and the books of Daniel and Revelation

Illustration Copyrighted.
Read about Jesus Christ and the rapture, as explained in God’s Story—from Creation to EternityGO

See our reviews of previous “Left Behind” films:
Left Behind: The Movie
Left Behind II: Tribulation Force

It has been three years since the release of the film “Left Behind II”. This trilogy of movies is based on the popular series of books by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye. Many readers have enjoyed this fictional look into the future.

The first thing that I would like to say about the new release is that the production quality is nothing short of first class. You will notice a big improvement in the cinematography and special effects. Yes, the Junior Class release is better than the Freshman and Sophomore effort combined. The movie is directed by Craig R. Baxely. Craig is known for his work with many of the Stephen King films, the television series “Kingdom Hospital”, The A-Team and several other films.

The acting is also first class. President Gerald Fitzhugh is played by Louis Gosset, Jr. There is nothing like the combination of good acting, good direction and a good story to bring life to a film. Jessica Steen (“NCIS”, “Armageddon”, “Earth 2”) and Charles Martin Smith (“American Graffiti”, “The Untouchables”) both add to this excellent cast. I only had two laments in regard to the acting. The first was that Clarence Gilyard Jr. was not able to return as Bruce Barnes and that Kirk Cameron has a much smaller role.

Left Behind: World at War picks up 18 months after the close of the first sequel. The anti-christ has achieved world peace, and nearly all the leaders of the world are behind his leadership. The film opens with President Fitzhugh beginning to have some doubts about his decision. The plot begins to unfold a planned strike against the United States. There is also a growing lethal epidemic among believers. The conflict between those that profess Christianity and the followers of Nicolae Carpathia continues to increase.

The film is a reflection of Jenkins and LaHaye’s worldview and their interpretation of prophetic events. I know that some disagree with their Biblical interpretation. I must confess that I did not agree with all their views of the future either. I do believe that the Bible will have strong relevance during the Tribulation period. I also liked Buck’s (Kirk Cameron) clear presentation of the Gospel. It is the BEST part of the movie. I didn’t like the Hollywood presentation of the anti-Christ or the scenes that sensationalized a possible Christian insurgency and strong individual vigilantism.

I think that most Christians will enjoy the effort. I am not sure that the film will be effective on its own as an evangelistic tool. I’m afraid that it might create more questions or confusion. I do highly recommend the new film from World Wide Pictures (Billy Graham Association) “Last Flight Out” as an excellent evangelistic alternative.

Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None / Violence: Heavier than usual for a Christian film, but considerably lighter than many PG-13 movies, including “Batman Begins” and “The Lord of the Rings”

To learn about the unusual way this movie was released, see our Christian Film News article

View trailer / View list of churches showing this movie on the weekend of October 21, 2005

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer Comments


Positive—I really thought that this was a great movie period. Some of the scenes got a little long, but overall it was the best, BEST “Christian film” that I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot. …there were definitely some violent images. Please don’t misunderstand me, the novels themselves and the subject matter almost demand the violent images…
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Troy, age 35
Positive—This movie had far better special effects than the previous. If you have read the books, you will be a little disappointed. I can’t recall any of this happening in the books (except the double marriage). It was exciting and fast paced, but when the storyline slowed down it almost lost my attention. A good scene for witnessing was when Buck presented the Gospel to the President. It was enjoyable, and it can be used as a great witnessing tool. I only wish they had stuck closer the books.
My Ratings: Good / 3½
—Payton, age 30
Positive—This is by far the best made of the three films. The technical quality is excellent. The acting is superb. The special effects are awesome. I only wish that Clarence Gilyard Jr. could have played the part of Bruce Barnes, and that the story line surrounding the Bruce Barnes character was closer to the book. The actress playing Amanda was younger than I had pictured when reading the books. When Bruce is presenting the Plan of Salvation to the President, I could “feel the anticipation” as I was awaiting his decision. The movie is intense, and I don’t recommend it for smaller children, perhaps under the age of about 9 or 10. But then again the six o’clock news is not recommended for children under the age of 13.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Janice Clifton-Moore, age 58
Positive—…probably the best Christian made movie out there. The acting is 100% better then the previous 2 and so are the special effects. That said, it barely follows the end of the second book (“Tribulation Force”); it is annoying to have so many people love these books have the story so easily thrown around and changed to fit an production team’s idea of what would make it better. It is sad to look so forward to a movie of a book that you love only to have changed and in my mind ruined.

This would have been a very good story had it been just written from a way where it did not come in contact with Left Behind series. It had a firm plot, a good cliff hanger ending and good acting. Just leave Left Behind series out of it and then you won’t go around disappointing the fans of the series.
My Ratings: Good / 4½
—Jennie, age 19
Positive—Like Mr. Downs wrote in his review, the best part of the movie is the clear presentation of the gospel. Also, the scene towards the end between Buc and Chloe almost got me crying! Janaya Stephens (Chloe) did a great job during that scene.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 4
—Jonathan Frantz, age 27
Positive—I found the movie to be incredibly uplifting. For those planning to buy “World at War”, please keep in mind that Chelsea Noble (Kirk Cameron’s wife) is an actress and therefore is playing a role, and playing it very well. She’s a Christian actress in a Christian movie whose character in a far later book undergoes conversion. I say bravo for Chelsea at mastering such a difficult role as Hattie. We know who wins in the end, so harshly judging flawed characters, made flawed for a purpose, isn’t doing anyone any good. Sympathy and pity is the best route, not to mention compassion.

The special effects are very much on par with current secular films, which is simply amazing because, unfortunately, most Christian movies are on a B grade level in that area of production. But what is most amazing is how the characters have grown spiritually. Buck is a man of God, with his human doubts and fears, but also his faith in God’s goodness through any Tribulation. He shares the Gospel with a determination he hasn’t displayed before. Ray undergoes temptation where Hattie is concerned, but knows God’s laws and refuses to back away from his beliefs. Everyone has changed and grown and matured, and it was a delight to see.

The acting is the best by far, of any of the movies. Having Louis Gossett Jr. on the set must have done wonders to inspire the rest of the cast because they truly excelled. Chelsea Noble in particular did a superb job in the role of Hattie, although everyone performed to the best of their abilities and beyond.

Please realize that this is a movie and indeed based on a book. And I do mean based on very loosely. Don’t go expecting to find it precisely like Jerry Jenkin’s novel because you will be in for a letdown. Novels need to be changed when they’re fitted for the big screen and World at War has a lot of changes, and all for the best in my opinion. Definitely the best in this Trilogy of three films, World at War delivers the Message.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 4½
—Carissa Horton, age 21
Positive—I watched this at a church with some friends and I found it entertaining. The acting and filming was good for a cloud 9 film. The one thing I found disappointing was that the story was more about the president and we saw very little character development in the main characters.

I think most people would agree that the violence was downplayed (You did see people get shot, but I don’t remember any blood or gore). However, I wouldn’t recommend this movie for young children just because the plot could be a little hard to follow at times and I don’t think they would enjoy it.

I’m not sure if this would be a good movie for unsaved even though it has a good salvation scene, because if you’re not familiar with the Bible or the book of Revelation its very confusing. But like I said, it was entertaining and it was nice to watch a movie and not have to worry about some bad word or scene showing up.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 2½
—Crystal, age 19
Positive—I have seen all three movies. Have only read to the fifth book. Movies that start out as books never seem to have the same spark. But that is okay. In books you can go places where movie sets aren’t able. Plus, it costs more money to make movies then it does to write books. So if you read the books, try not to compare them to the movies. I thought the movies are wonderful.

As for this one. The message of salvation was straight to the point. You accept the Lord or you pay a high price for not doing so. Plus, hitting on the head that just because you say your christian doesn’t mean you’re a true christian. How Bruce pointed out about himself acting like christian before the rapture, and now knowing how to be a devoted christian for the Lord.

I read some of the comments of the movie. On the part of Buck getting angry and yelling at God, then throwing his cell phone—was a wonderful scene. It shows that even christians get mad and voice themselves to God. It’s called being human and not perfect. That is why in the scene when he is with the president helping him to accept the Lord, you hear Buck asking God to forgive him for doubting. Now if you think all christian haven’t at some time done the same thing. Then go read the Bible. There all a lot more people in the Bible that have had a stronger relationship with the Lord. And still got angry and even doubted Him. Buck asking for forgiveness shows christians that even if you mess up you can still go to the Father for forgiveness.

As for his wife playing the part of Hattie. Remember who poured oil on Jesus’feet? What kind of people did Jesus hang around with? She played her part and done it very well. I believe seeing this movie would be a major Blessing. It is movies like this and other christian films that can reach the unsaved world. The unsaved world doesn’t always want to go to church. Even if a friend invites them. But they might watch a movie they recommend…
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Teresa, age 40
Positive—It was a great movie. I enjoyed seeing the movie that has action, adventure, and a clear presentation of the gospel. I hope that more movies like these will be made.
My Ratings: Good / 4½
—Ken, age 40


Neutral—The film was overly simplistic. For example, the President is shown in Washington and then in New Babylon and then back in Washington as though New Babylon is just across town and does not require hours and hours of travel time. When one of the characters wants to have communion before he dies, lo-and-behold they just happen to have a loaf of fresh baked bread and a pewter goblet of wine immediately available in the shelter where they are hiding, and Chloe just happens to be conveniently located in the next cot and amazingly recovers after a sip of the wine. It is also very unrealistic that a US president would be running around “packing heat” and getting into gun battles as a Rambo-type character. Also the bibles that were being contaminated with the deadly virus looked like they were being placed on display in glass cases. It is as though they took scenes from the books and tried to stitch them together into a movie.
My Ratings: Good / 4
—James Ottem, age 56
Neutral—This movie is a great source of entertainment but like all books made into movies I found this movie to be very lacking. I thought that “World ar War” would mainly be based on the book “Nicolae”, but it seems that it is only based on a very few chapters. If you read the books you will know immediately that nothing really fits in with the books (even future books) Cloe gets sick (in the movie), when in the books her car gets blown off the road by a nuclear blast. In the book Rev Ben-Judah is a main cast member but in the movie isn’t even in it. All in all I found this a great action movie, but just doesn’t fit in with the storyline of even the other movies.
My Ratings: Good / 3
—Brian Stewart, age 27
Neutral—I was glad to see the focused presentation of Gospel offered to US president with no reluctance or timidity because of his position. Everyone in every station of life must hear the gospel message!

I liked the quality of the movie making and the acting. My big disappointment was the lack of continuity with the first two movies. I sat down and watched all three movies at one sitting. I wanted to find a link between Tribulation Force and World at War but never saw one. Scenes from the old church in Chicago or the Steele’s house or the waling wall in Jerusalem would have given a continuing story line. Who knows? Maybe it was intentional to tie future movies into this one more seamlessly! I would love to see these movies follow the story lines in the books more closely.

I hope the series will continue, however, as every presentation of the message of salvation will reach one more soul! I also hope the future movies will come along at a faster pace because the actors are going to get too old to play young parts!
My Ratings: Excellent! / 3½
—Jim, age 54
Neutral—I am really torn on this movie. I really question how much of it is Biblical. I think the graphics are good. I like how the movie kept up with technology, use of cell phones, and the possible threat to the Bibles using Anthrax. …some strong points when Buck is with the President and sharing with him how to accept Jesus. I do not know if this is a movie to share with Non-Christians. I think stick with Left Behind 1 and 2 for that tool.
My Ratings: Average / 4
—Marcia Lennick, age 19


Negative—It has a lot of violence; it would definitely be a PG-13 rating. Buck doubts God, and throws his cell phone. The characters portray a lot of indecision, and doubt. Makes you want to ask the Way of the Master witnessing plan to Buck. Couldn’t believe that Kirk’s real wife, plays the part of an immoral woman who gets pregnant by the Anti-Christ…
My Ratings: Average / 3
Negative—First off let me say it was refreshing to see people who died in this movie. I found that it captured a more reality then in the books. No Christians would ever think of doing violence, this depicted more of what life will be really be like. I mean reality aside as a believer people are going to have to kill in the name of Christ, we will have to defend ourselves and I found the violence acceptable and not offensive. What I did find offensive is how the movie too great liberty with the books. I did not like the movie for that reason alone. I found that the Antichrist didn’t show his true power until later in the books. Chloe was never poisoned in the book and I found the death of Bruce Barnes heart wrenching in the book and found the whole scene in the movie flat. I have read the Left Behind series many times and didn’t find the same passion as I did when I read the books. I wanted to see Ben Juda and the scene of him leaving the country to come to Bruce’s funeral. It may be in the next movie. I was EXTREMELY disappointed with the movie and would not recommend it to my friends. Let me just say that the movie didn’t hold up to the book, not even close. Some of the story was so unreal that I don’t think it did it’s main job. That is to bring believers to Christ, it felt more like a fairy tale. The book did a much better job in showing what life will be like.
My Ratings: Average / 3
—Jimmy, age 38
Negative—I became a BIG fan of the Left Behind books, because I am a BIG fan of the Book (The Bible). As such with LB3, I have mixed emotions. Any movie with such overt proclamations of salvation through Christ is worthy of praise. HOWEVER, the incredible departure of this movie from the written LB series is absolutely awful. That LaHaye and Jenkins are in a lawsuit with Cloud Ten Pictures is understandable though regrettable (from a Biblical perspective). By resorting to special effects and “big name” characters (Lou Gossett Jr.) to “attract” the secular viewer instead of relying on the biblically honest and spiritually powerful presentation of the book series, this production is left rudderless and uninspiring in a cheap Hollywood sort of way. However, thank God that His message of salvation comes through loud and clear.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 3
—Peter Shaw, age 40
Negative—…The original script for this movie stood at 120 pages. I would’ve liked to have seen some of the scenes they actually took out from the script.)… The film is based on the last 50 pages of Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins “Tribulation Force” (book two of the “Left Behind” series on which this film was based on), and takes place 18 months after the events of the second film. Nicolae Carpathia (Gordon Currie) has achieved the impossible goal of peace throughout the world by dismantling a huge portion of nuclear weapons and firearms. President Gerald Fitzhugh (Lou Gossett, Jr.) is one of those people that support Nicolae, and he would stand at nothing to help unify America. Halfway around the country, there are those that are against Nicolae and consider him as the Antichrist: The Tribulation Force.

The Force have resorted to hiding in an underground shelter and consists of Bruce Barnes (Arnold Pinnock), Buck Williams (Kirk Cameron), Rayford Steele (Brad Johnson) and his beautiful and sexy daughter Chloe (Janaya Stephens), Chris Smith (a very short on-screen appearance by David MacNiven), and Amanda White (Laura Catalano). After a foiled assassination attempt on the president’s life, which succeeds in killing Vice President John Mallory (Charles Martin Smith). This is one of the plot holes of the movie: I would’ve like to have seen more of Fitzhugh and Mallory before the assassination attempt. After the attempt on his life, Fitzhugh must rely upon Buck Williams (Kirk Cameron) and Carolyn Miller (Jessica Steen) to expose the real motives behind Nicolae’s empire.

I was surprised at some of the acting: Louis Gossett Jr., whose character this is centered around, actually succeeds in making a good president, Janaya Stephens is one of the only characters to improve her performance on each film, Gordon Currie plays an interesting bad-guy Nicolae, Chelsea Noble also gets point for actually making Hattie believable this time around, and Arnold Pinnock played a much believable Pastor Bruce Barnes. Jessica Steen also had a good turn as Carolyn Miller, and she is one of the only characters that, other than the pastor and Fitzhugh, is fully drawn out and played to perfection: she is a member of the Militia who is against Carpathia, but the Militia’s motives are different than that of the Trib Force.

The first movie had an interesting premise, but at times felt like a poorly executed film, while the second showed some potential, but the third did not do it for me, despite some average acting. The movie had a “West Wing” meets “24” mix with biblical phrases thrown into the mix, and the story doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The movie had potential to be good, but the substantial lack of plot makes this movie bad: one of these is the introduction on Amanda White. When the Trib Force are introduced fifteen-minutes into the film, there is a double wedding going on: Amanda marries Rayford Steele without even a subtle (or even a promising) hint of a backstory. There’s also Nicolae’s plan for world domination that actually involves poison-laced bibles. That’s probably one of the dumbest ideas in movie history.

There were some editing and cinematography and style of direction that actually made this look like a Hollywood picture, but the film felt like it was completely rushed in certain parts and actually felt like an hour-long beginning tacked on with a thirty-minute ending, and the ending was so abrupt; it seemed like they edited out a lot of material. “Left Behind: World at War” plays like a mixed bag, despite descent performances, it offer little effort at producing a fully developed storyline.
My Ratings: Average / 2
Christopher Walker, age 25
Negative—A very poor movie in casting, and filming. Lines are delivered either with flat deadpan, or over the top acting. Stick with the book series if you enjoy it, avoid the movie.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 2½
—Michael Brand, age 36

Comments from young people

Positive—This movie is so awesome! It really shows what will happen during this tribulation. Sure, some of the things in it are made up like the people who poisoning Bibles and sending them out to Christians, I don’t think that’s in the Bible. But this movie is really good. It has some really freaky images in it like when Cloe’s sick it looks like her face is peeling off and some mercenaries try to kill the President and the car blows up, but when you live in the End Times life is scary. I WOULD NOT recommend this movie for little kids. My 7 year old sister saw it and she was really upset. Overall this movie is awesome, but not for younger children aging 7 to 10.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 4
—Lacie, age 12
Positive—It was a very good movie for preteens and adults. It had good graphics and was very interesting. Since I love the books I enjoyed it. But I would recommend ages 9 and up. I give it a 5 for family friendliness.
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Jackson Simmons, age 11
Positive—I was happily surprised by the film. I would have liked it to have been longer, but I don’t think the film’s budget would allow it. I felt it deserved it’s PG-13 rating, but was definitely milder than most other films carrying the same rating. I thought it was entertaining and well acted. Though not “War of the Worlds” level, the special effects were pretty well done. Aside from violence, there was nothing objectionable in it. If it was recommendable for all ages it wouldn’t be PG-13! but I do recommend it for ages 13 and up, just as the rating does.
My Ratings: Good / 4½
—Geno, age 15

Comments from Christian leaders

…This is Christian film-making at its best—gripping adventure, tense storyline, outstanding production and a solid portrayal of the Gospel. Great job…
—American Family Association, Tim Wildmon, President
…Bigger and better with a clear witness to Jesus Christ…
—Movieguide, Ted Baehr
…5 DOVES—This is the best “Left Behind” film so far. … excellent acting and great special effects. I highly recommend watching this movie…
—Dove Family Association
…The Best—Bar none…
—Chuck Smith, Founder Calvary Chapels
…as good as anything you’ll see out of the traditional Hollywood studios…
—TBN, Paul Crouch Jr.

The prequel to this movie:
Left Behind II: Tribulation Force—coverClosed Captioned for the hearing impaired.Left Behind II: Tribulation Force (video)—A week after the rapture, a small band of new Christians embarks on a dangerous mission to open the eyes of the world to the truth and expose the Antichrist! This end-times drama provides a great soul-winning message written by ChristianAnswers team member, Ray Comfort. Story based on the best-selling book by LaHaye and Jenkins. [More Information]