Movie Review: Tribulation (part 3 of the Apocalypse series)

September 10, 2008 by  
Filed under Book and Movie Reviews

By Donald James Parker  

There’s often criticism that the majority of Christian movies deal with the same subject: the end of the world involving the rapture and the tribulation.  Perhaps this is a valid gripe because there truly are a lot of them. However, I believe that the three most interesting events in world history are the birth of Christ, the death of Christ, and the end of the world.

Thus video presentations of eschatology should be interesting and could play an important role in helping us to understand what might happen and how to deal with it if it does during our lifetimes.

I’m sitting here right now in a comfortable living room with a stomach full of Chinese cuisine and a football game on the telly. Tomorrow is Sunday, and I’ll be going to church in a peaceful and safe environment. Life is good. The prospect of the end of the world popping my security bubble seems as remote as the chances of the Yankees winning the World Series this year. I’m afraid I take the good life for granted.  As Bible believers we have to face the fact that things won’t be pretty at the end of times. Will we be around to see the awful stuff?  Arguments rage back and forth about pre-trib or post-trib.  Other generations have thought they were living in those days, but the world kept spinning and new generations of humans arrived on the planet. With recent wars and rumors of war, natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires, the housing crisis (manmade disaster), and recent losses of religious liberties, it is not far fetched to believe that our lives might be shattered by a traumatic change in the near future.  There’s an old adage: he who fails to prepare, prepares to fail. Can a movie help you get ready for something as serious as the tribulation? I don’t know, but I suspect that we will react much more effectively if we have some expectations of the way things will come down. It’s not going to be easy, and perhaps our only recourse is to bathe ourselves in prayer and let God take us through the storm. So maybe we at least need to know when to turn the prayer jets wide open.

Tribulation, another one of those end-time movies which stars Margot Kidder, Gary Busey, Howie Mandell, and Nick Mancaruso, is the third movie in a series dealing with the apocalypse. Ironically the actor who impressed me the most was Sherry Miller, whom I had never heard of. Mandell played a memorable role as a hyper and deranged soul who is influenced by the powers of darkness.  Despite the big names in the cast, I thought this film lived up to the expectations of those who expect inferiority from Christian producers. The word hokey came to mind in regards to the plot. I visited Amazon to see what the opinions of other reviewers were and discovered someone else used that same word. It is fun reading the evaluations of people for the same movie which are diametrically opposed. I usually disregard the opinions of confessed non-believers. Their reviews are frequently biased to the point that they are without value.  In the lineup of reviews on Tribulation there are five star reviews claiming this is one of the best movies ever, offset by one star reviews claiming this is one of the worst movies ever.  Who is right? Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Both bookends of the spectrum review a product such as this to give other viewers a chance to find a diamond in the rough or avoid a lemon-flavored clunker. However these mixed results make it evident you can’t rely on a reviewer. The only way to know how you’ll react is to see it yourself. Though I personally didn’t think much of this movie, you might think it is wonderful, so I will not warn you not to watch it.

I think the scenario is quite clear-cut here. If Christians expect to evangelize the world through the film industry, they have to produce scripts which do not insult people’s intelligence. A mindless string of chase scenes with unbelievable results is not the ticket toward winning the attention and respect of those that might have an open mind about Christ.  My belief is that in the long run (eternity) a movie can only be judged by the impact that it has on people’s lives and not on artistic merit. We don’t see style points applied to the slinging of the stone that dented Goliath’s head. David’s delivery might not have been pretty, but there is no arguing the fact that it was effective.  It’s doubtful in my mind that this flic would be efficacious in the war against unbelief.  As one Amazon review said, this movie makes me wonder if Christians actually believe this stuff.  Much of what we see in fiction, whether books or movies, concerning those fateful days of the final battles between the devil and God’s people is laden with conjecture.  Scripture is skimpy in detail, opening up a panorama of possibilities. I firmly believe in the last days, but I don’t foresee people being influenced to accept the mark of the beast as the result of donning a virtual reality helmet which scares them into submission to the anti-Christ. But as the little boy said in Angels in the Outfield, “it could happen.” 

About the reviewer: Donald James Parker is a Christian novelist in his spare time. See his seven books and more at



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