Starring: Shane Harper, Kevin Sorbo
Directed By: Harold Cronk
Written By: Chuck Konzelman, Cary Solomon
Running Time: 1 Hour 53 Minutes
Rated PG for Thematic Material, Brief Violence and an Accident Scene
Plot: A college professor challenges one of his students to prove God’s existence, after the freshman refuses to hand in an assignment stating that “God is dead.”
LANCE’S TAKE: EXODUS
You want to get a sense of how predictable Christian movies can be?
Take a look at the title of this one: God’s Not Dead.
We all know the premise. It’s a faith-based movie about a college student trying to prove God’s existence. So, based on the title, how do you think it’s gonna end?
This is, without question, one of the most predictable movies in the faith-oriented genre, complete with an extremely heavy-handed and downright corny ending to one of the movie’s many storylines.
It’s also one of the most stereotypical when it comes to portraying Atheists. It’s true, a lot of Atheists tend to think that most Christians are nothing more than a bunch of easily offended, naive Chick-fil-A customers who worship an imaginary dictator in the sky and hate to see the world evolving. But, for the most part, we Christians have a knack for pegging Atheists as smug, cynical know-it-alls that love nothing more than to make others feel inferior.
That’s the approach God’s Not Dead takes in its portrayal of the Atheistic professor. He’s an arrogant jerk who will stop at nothing to put the Christian student in his place, while also attempting to embarrass him in front of his peers and trying to ruin his future at the college.
Now, I’ll confess, the student makes some decent points during his presentations to prove that God exists. But, for a full-time student who’s constantly studying to get his arguments in order, he somehow manages to design some of the flashiest graphics and animations to back up his statements that any college freshman has probably ever used in a non media-related class.
And the tension between the teacher and student isn’t the only storyline in this film. Not by a long shot. As I mentioned earlier, there are countless subplots going on here, and even though they’re all connected in some way, it causes the movie to jump back and forth between all the different characters. That makes it hard for viewers to have enough time to really care about them, and it doesn’t give the characters enough time to develop.
Along those same lines, Duck Dynasty frontman Willie Robertson and his wife both make brief appearances in this movie, and I’m not exactly sure why. Their short-lived scene doesn’t move the story forward at all. I guess it could be argued that it shows how far the reporter character is from God as she tries to “ambush” the couple with her ridiculous questions, but then again, we see her distance from the Lord in other parts of the film. So, why was this scene needed? It just seems like the Robertsons were thrown in so that Pure Flix’s marketing team could say, “Hey. We got people from Duck Dynasty in our movie.” (I could also rant about the relentless Newsboys promotion as well, but at least the band played a pivotal role in the plot.)
I’ve also mentioned in other reviews that cancer is the most overused disease in Christian cinema. So, it figures that one of the characters gets diagnosed with cancer in this story. But, it doesn’t stop there. Cancer is also used as part of the backstory of one of the other major characters. So, you have double the cancer of a normal faith-based movie. You know, there are other deadly diseases out there, Christian filmmakers. You don’t have to use this illness so frequently as a plot device.
Truthfully, the only bright sides of God’s Not Dead that I can think of are that the production value is good, and the acting is okay (albeit overdone in parts).
So, although God isn’t dead, my patience certainly was by the time the closing credits rolled.
Just like the ending of God’s Not Dead, it’s easy to predict what rating this movie is getting from me: a big “Exodus.”
MARY’S TAKE: PURGATORY
I may be in the minority here, but I was not a big fan of God’s Not Dead. It was far from the worst movie I’ve seen, but nowhere near the best.
Overall, the acting was pretty good in this film. However, there were a few characters who were overdramatized and their scenes were definitely overacted. I understand that when you take a stand for your faith, you’re going to be met with opposition. And I know a lot of this opposition, ironically, is going to come from fellow believers.
But, I feel like the girlfriend of the main character is not a realistic depiction of this opposition. She was an irritating, one-dimensional character that should have been more fully developed and given a more realistic approach to her disdain for Josh’s actions.
I know God’s Not Dead had good intentions. trying to pave the way for believers to start standing up for their faith. It’s a very noble message, and I hope it reached a lot of people and that Christians will stop being satisfied with sitting in the shadows.
I like something Kevin Sorbo’s character said, something along the lines of, “Some of the most devout Atheists were once Christians.” That’s definitely something to think about, and it’s really sad that it makes total sense. I wish it didn’t, but it does. That’s why I applaud the filmmakers for trying to start a “God’s Not Dead” movement and get Christians to step out of the churches and live their faith out in the open.
I also liked the ending of God’s Not Dead. Yes, for the most part, it was predictable. But, not everyone lived happily ever after. And believe it or not, not everyone (gasp!) was even saved by the end. Now, that’s a real change of pace from most Christian movies.
Even though God’s Not Dead had its pros, I feel like the cons outweighed a lot of them. If it hadn’t been for the overdramatizing that took away the relatability of the film, I would have probably scored this movie higher. But, with all things considered, I’m leaving God’s Not Dead with a low “Purgatory” rating.
How would you rate this film?