Judgment

JUDGMENT. 2001

Director: Andre van Heerden

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



Before I begin my rant, I want to make a pair of simple observations that inform my opinion of Christian arts. First, there are certainly such things as good Christians for whom everyone's civil liberties count for more than religious conformity, who were horrified when President Bush wanted to change the Constitution to insure that queers will never have equality under the law; who are horrified when Christians bomb women's clinics & murder doctors; who can embrace the possibility that there is more than one method of Faith & are capable of friendships with Moslems or Jews or agnostics without feeling deep in their hearts that everyone unlike themselves is doomed to Hell. But the second observation has to be this one: The one place outside of a church where you are guaranteed to find exclusively Christians is a Ku Klux Klan rally.

Good Christians will have to face that reality without being offended that anyone dares to notice. This review will speak of "Christians" as they too commonly exist, not the type who can keep their own faith without deploring that other frames of mind exist & without doing whatever it takes to undermine the rights of others.

Although Judgment stands alone, it is part of a series of films about "the Last Days" of earth & is also known as Apocalypse IV: Judgment. The series up to this point seems to preface The Rapture, as the film clearly embraces the idea that the end of the world will be a good thing (for Christians only). As I write this essay I've seen only this installment & don't know whether or not I'll ever bother to watch the three earlier films or any that may follow. This one was thrown in front of me, so I watched it. I did not find it boring, as it is so cultic in nature that it can be viewed quite differently than it may have been intended. Viewed as the story of an empowered loony Cult of Satan vs disenfranchised loony Cult of the Rapture, that's a dark light that makes Judgment almost fun.

Judgment is an ultra low-budget Christian propoganda science fiction film set in the future when world peace & universal health has been provided by the self-proclaimed savior Lucifer. Never mind that the film assumes Evil arrives in the world first & foremost because of Israel; I don't want to analyse the deeply ingrained bigotry & antisemitism which I'm sure was totally unconcious. I want to look at the film's larger intents.

A small minority who believes only in Jesus & God are criminals guilty of the highest of high crimes, who upon arrest are given a choice of converting to Lucifer worship, in the form of His Eminance Franco Macalousso (ably played as almost-attractive Charistmatic Evil by Nick Mancuso), in which case they will have the Lucifer tattoo put on their hand or forehead & live happily ever after, except for they will lose their capacity to love, & will experience paradise on earth though evidently not in the hereafter. The other option is to remain true to God & be exterminated.

The bulk of the film is taken up with a long court battle in which a Nordic Christian, Helen Hannah (Leigh Lewis), is charged with the highest crime against humanity, belief in Jesus. Her attorney, played by soap opera giant Corbin Bernsen best known for his General Hospital & LA Law stints, defends God or at least Helen in a kangaroo court production for the world-government's television.

Mr. T as J. T. Quincy is a member of the Christian underground turning in his signature A Team "acting" style, & he's fun to watch. He provides the threat or promise of there eventually being an action scene, but his religion keeps him from living up to the promise. His presence in the main provides nothing but a few mild grins & a reassurance that this isn't a film anyone is really supposed to take seriously cuz hell, Mr. T is in it.

The didactic set-up & the propogandistic intent, as well as the cheapo budget, should have resulted in the biggest stinker of all time, a film exclusively for brain-dead Christians who mistake crap for candy, war for peace, & their own harmful intolerances for evil other than their own. But contrary to that expectation, the film is surprisingly entertaining & can be viewed as "social science fiction" by chance viewers who weren't after a religious tract.

It's a wonderful window into the odd thinking of self-certain born-again fundamentalists. It's not enough to put Reason vs Faith on trial in this story, because in fact the arguments for Reason make more sense even as outlined by the story's future-courtroom antics. So the propogandistic authors have to have Lucifer, clearly an evil gent, representing the idea of people being decent to each other on earth during our lifetimes rather than living in a hellish war-torn world with promise of a better afterlife. By having Reason represented as Satanic & incompatible with Good, the film actually does express the strange certainty that it is "Good" that the whole world could be destroyed; good, at least, for those who remained faithful to God. Actual decency toward one another is part of the evil, which really does go pretty far to explain the typical behaviors of religious fanatics.

The film has only a slight awareness of its own irony. In the real world such Christians are intolerant of queers, of other religions, of feminists, of science & the humanities, & easily advocate or support the murder of abortion doctors or the bombing of women's clinics, deeply believe that anyone unlike themselves should & will go to Hell, & are responsible for far more deaths than all Satanists combined whether its Popes orchestrating Crusades or the born-again George Bush's armies slaughtering Muslims after pretending evil ragheads were about to get us with non-existant weapons of mass destruction. But this film prefers to pretend & fantasize the idea that the one & only oppressed class on Earth are the Christians, a minority who has the one & only singular Truth without which everyone is rightly doomed.

If the film's imaginary world existed then it would be a stinko world even if everyone except Christians did have things better than they have it now. But nothing in this film indicates that it would be nice if the conditions were reversed & these Jesus-spewing lunatics could once again have their way as they do now. There is no decent option in this film's fantasy world; it is not Good on trial in a satanic world, it is strictly Evil vs Evil. And whoever takes control next time around will be the same assholes as before, whether the world is ruled by the Christians or the lions.

The film cheats because it isn't an honest debate of Reason vs Faith, but of the Devil manifest & real, vs Jesus alleged to be the only if unprovable Truth even though absent & imperceivable. A good & poetic argument could be made in favor of Faith, but as this film develops, Christians are just skanky nerds whose imaginary friend is more important than the continued existence of the Earth. In this film "Christians" share traits in common with narcissistic psychopaths.

It seems the authors of this tommyrot could not face the likelihood that if God existed & was Absolute, then Lucifer is as much God as anything. The Evil Urge of God, which can appear as the Devil, is purified if humanity makes the free-will choice to do Good, as opposed to believing tripe & doing whatever it takes to promote tripe. The idiot Christians in this film are doing as much to encourage the Evil Urge of God as anyone else in the film. But since they embrace the end of the world as a good thing, it doesn't matter that their own actions are as sinister & destructive as anything they fantasize their "enemy" concocting.

But as our point of view character is the fence-sitting attorney who embraces neither God nor the Devil, but expresses only his own angst until he is himself sacrificed as a Christlike figure, the dumbass philosophy of the film is not something a viewer has to believe in order to relate to this waffling agnostic. The fence-sitting attorney is being tempted by two devils, & if in the longrun he sides with the underdog, that's because it's the underdog, not because its the Christians. If it had been the Luciferians who were outcast & oppressed, I believe he would've deplored injustice against them just as much -- though it's doubtful the scriptwriters wanted the viewers to make that observation.

The philosophy of this film is pig-shit ignorant, but let's compare it to other genres of trashy B-cinema, such as slasher horror which can be great fun despite that the philosophy seems to be "kill guys quickly, kill girls slowly cuz that's sexier." Christian bullshit is certainly no stupider than misogynist bullshit, but fact is misogynist films do entertain people, & not just sociopathic people who wish they could hack up women. So too Christian bullshit can be entertaining, & not just for pig-eating Goyim. A lot of non-Christian science fiction is pretty damned lame & ridiculous too, but can be fun to watch despite itself. I thought Judgment was the same kind of sleezy good fun as bloodier types of laughable but entertaining exploitation cinema.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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