I can’t even put a rating on Judgment, part 4 in the Apocalypse series. I haven’t even reviewed the other movies in the series on Freethunk, but this one from 2001 stands out for so many reasons. I can tell you, depending on your beliefs or nonbelief you’ll either be in tears or laughing your ass off. It’s a bad movie with some decent acting and Corbin Bernsen holds it together even though the dialogue is ridiculous. I kept expecting him to lose control of the scripted rebuttals, conversations and angst, but each time he reigns in the dialogue so the movie doesn’t veer off in to a total car wreck. AND Mr. T is in it! Get out the popcorn!
The premise is simple: Victoria Thorne, played by Jessica Steen, is a journalist who apparently was executed but then kept in a cell by the AntiChrist. She’s brought out for a show trial to create some entertainment and reaffirm The Beast’s benevolence to the new world order. Mitch Kendrick, played by Corbin Bernsen, is the lawyer chosen to represent her and is explicitly told he is to follow orders and not deviate from the rigged court system. In the end, of course, he does after he has a change of heart. Throughout the film, Mitch struggles with the fact that he put his own father, a believer in Christ, on trial and ultimately his father was executed for not recanting.
Mr. T is part of the resistance–though it’s hard to tell if they can resist because he keeps being told not to use violence. C’mon! He’s Mr. T! Bring out the A-Team and whoop some AntiChrist ass! My wife walked into the room while T was delivering his lines and looked puzzled and then laughed. It’s just bad and I love Mr. T, but…oh, it’s just bad.
The part that is going to get atheists and other freethinkers talking back to the screen is the trial itself. My wife caught me doing it. At one point Mitch is allowed to place one of Victoria Thorne’s sisters in Christ on the stand and she insists there is solid evidence for Christ. So much so that it is equivalent to the existence of Aristotle. The witness is so confident that after the examination scene is done you’re thinking back, “Wait, what evidence?”
The “court” evidence seems to amount to 500 witnesses to Christ’s resurrection, but who are these witnesses and are they noted outside of the Bible? I searched for it and it is a claim by the Apostle Paul. Someone on Yahoo Answers asked the same question I’m asking and this is how a Christian responded:
The proof is the thousands of historical manuscripts. Since we have thousands of historical documents that say it did and you don’t have squat to prove it didn’t we have more proof than you. The Bible does not list their names though they were known and many still alive at the time the New Testament was written.
Of couse I find that most athiest are not interested in any facts that contradict what they have chosen to believe.
Okay? So there are historical documents of witnesses with no names? I’m not sure which historical documents this persons is referring to beyond the Bible. I’m aware of a Josephus reference to Christ’s resurrection that is debated by historians, but that’s it. Do you think the Bible alone would stand up in a court of law? Let’s go to a more well known author, Josh McDowell:
Let’s take the more than 500 witnesses who saw Jesus alive after His death and burial, and place them in a courtroom. Do you realize that if each of those 500 people were to testify for only six minutes, including cross-examination, you would have an amazing 50 hours of firsthand testimony?
Yes, you would? But you don’t have those witnesses!
Does anyone else see a problem here? One of the leading founders of the Christian cult (it was a cult at the time) says there were 500 witnesses to the resurrection but isn’t naming names and the only place you can read this statement is in his writings in the book of Corinthians. On top of that we don’t even have Paul’s original writing–we have copies of copies. What would we think of any other cult leader that made that claim in the past or present? We would say bullshit, produce the witnesses. This is not evidence. This is someone making a claim in a book too old to verify. I can’t go and question these witnesses or historically speaking, without being named, I can’t research their existence. What kind of stupid logic is this?
This is the Bible verse in question from Corinthians, chapter 15:
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
That is not court evidence or any evidence at all. Don’t believe everything you see on TV and don’t believe everything you read in a book more than a 1000 years old. We don’t necessarily have to throw the whole Bible out as history, but when it deviates into miracles–yes, we need more evidence. At the usual refrain goes, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. A man raising from the dead is extraordinary.
The other evidence brought up in Judgment were the conclusions of Steve Greenleaf, an attorney at law? I looked him up and he did write a book on examining the resurrection, but that again is not evidence. The basis for his conclusions might be evidence but the movie assumes we should accept Greenleaf by his position alone as they only mention his name and that he was a preeminent lawyer. With that logic, then abortion should be moral because it was examined by the Supreme Court justices of the United States and found to be a woman’s right. We can be impressed by Greenleaf as a person thus making us more prone to listen to him as an expert, but his stance alone is not evidence. Also, according to Conservapedia.com, he died in friggin’ 1853!
This has to be the worst evidence ever presented! I realize a movie can’t go on at lengths, but that scene alone had our prosecuting attorney speechless without a rebuttal. Do you think there might be some changes in courtroom law and acceptable evidence since 1853?
Judgment actually does some damage to itself when they try to call God/Jesus Christ to the stand and nothing happens. It may have been meant to be rhetorical, but it reminds unbelievers of the absence of Christ, not the presence. You find yourself agreeing with the prosecuting attorney for the AntiChrist even though she did a piss-poor job.
This is the usual fare I’ve seen pumped out of Cloud Ten Pictures and I know they’re only getting bigger. It’s obviously meant for believers because you really have to “believe” to accept the movie’s conclusions. They make no sense and I would even venture to say that this is the movie’s fault as there are far better convincing arguments. The resurrection of Christ cannot be proven in a court of law. It requires faith because there is no solid evidence. The storyline could have incorporated a show trial, but the movie should not have made the show trial the entire premise. It doesn’t work. Christians want to have it both ways: 1. God can be proven. 2. It requires faith to believe in God.
I would keep God in the realm of mystery and simply exploit the persecution angle as most people, including atheists, believe in freedom of religion.
SIDENOTE: The resistance is using cell phones and they’re not immediately tracked and captured? The AntiChrist would have them on the first call, wouldn’t he? Besides, in one scene, without the mark of the beast a couple can’t buy a pizza. How the hell did they sign up for cell phone service? I’m not saying they couldn’t have come up with a fictional premise to use cell phones outside of say Sprint or AT&T, but for the sake of futurism at least make an attempt to explain cell phone use without being tracked by the government.
SIDENOTE 2: Resisting Christians are called “Haters.” It’s supposed to be a derisive term but it comes off as funny. I kept expecting an attorney to say in a teenybopper voice, “Hey now, don’t be a hater.”
SIDENOTE 3: Did you know the mark of the beast can be faked? That’s what some of the characters do (rub on tattoo, not sure what it was on their hands). I think that ruins the underlying theme of rejecting Christ. And what if you take the mark of the beast but change your mind? Can’t go back while some other guy faked the mark of the beast and still has a choice even though by faking the mark he/she is rejecting Christ?