After three previous movies that all dealt with the growing power of Franco Macalousso (Nick Mancuso) and the revolution spearheaded by former journalist Helen Hannah (Leigh Lewis), the Apocalypse saga finally came to a close with the 2001 film, Judgment.
One of the more interesting things about the Apocalypse franchise is that each film was done in the style of a different genre. Apocalypse was pretty much a straight-forward, faith-based film. Revelation attempted to be an action film. Tribulation was a horror film. Meanwhile, Judgment is a courtroom drama, complete with a witnesses, objections, a corrupt judge, two former lovers turned legal adversaries, and a verdict. Of course, the verdict itself is never in question.
Helen Hannah has finally been captured by O.N.E. (That stands for One Nation Earth.) Instead of just executing her like he does everyone else, Macalousso wants to put her on trial. He wants to humiliate her while the entire world is watching. He wants a show trial. Mitch Kendrick (Corbin Bernsen), who father was a preacher who was executed after a previous show trial, is assigned to serve as Helen’s defense attorney, Prosecuting the case is Victoria Thorne (Jessica Steen), who is Mitch’s former lover and one of the few people to know that Mitch has a fake mark of the beast on his hand. Victoria believes that taking part in the trial will finally bring Mitch fully over to the side of Macalousso.
The trial has been carefully scripted out but, to everyone’s shock, Mitch refuses to follow the script. Instead, he says that Helen cannot be punished because she has only been doing what her God told her to do so, therefore, God should be on trial instead of Helen. Macalousso decides that he actually likes the idea of putting God on trial so he agrees to let Mitch do his thing.
Meanwhile, a revolutionary named J.T. (Mr. T) is making plans to bust Helen out of prison but he finds himself frustrated by Helen’s aversion to violence. J.T. just wants to break into the court and shoot everyone. “There’s another way,” everyone keeps telling him….
Judgment is the best of the Apocalypse films, which may not be saying much when you consider how bad the other films are. That said, Leigh Lewis had considerably improved as an actress by the time that she appeared in this film and Corbin Bernsen gives a good performance as a man torn between doing the right thing or doing what he has to do to keep himself safe. Jessica Steen and Michael Copeman (as the Judge) bring a little bit more nuance than expected to their roles and Nick Mancuso is properly charismatic and smug as Franco Macalousso. For a faith-based film, Judgment is not particularly preachy and I appreciated the fact that the film’s message was ultimately one of peaceful resistance. Unfortunately, the film is also about 20 minutes too long. It clocks in at 102 minutes and there are some parts of this film that seriously dragged.
As I’ve said about the previous Apocalypse films, Judgment actually works better as a political film than a religious tract. The film presents Franco Macalousso as being the Beast but he could just as easily be seen as the ultimate symbol of collectivism. When it’s announced that Helen is being prosecuted for the crime of “Hatred of the Human Race” and when witnesses in the court swear an oath to the “unity of all people,” it’s not a subtle moment but it’s a lot of fun for those viewers who tend to value personal freedom over the demands of the collective.
Judgment was the final Apocalypse film, though it doesn’t really bring the overall story to a close. Tomorrow, we’ll bring our look at the apocalypse to a close with a look at the — God help us — Left Behind series.