Starring: Melissa Joan Hart, Jesse Metcalfe
Directed By: Harold Cronk
Written By: Chuck Konzelman, Cary Solomon
Running Time: 2 Hours 1 Minute
Rated PG for Some Thematic Elements
Plot: A public high school history teacher is taken to court after answering a student’s question about Jesus during class.
LANCE’S TAKE: EXODUS
When I first heard that there was a sequel being released to God’s Not Dead, my first thought was, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Then, I heard it was being released in theaters on April Fools’ Day. So, I thought, “Well, that proves that it’s an elaborate joke. Good one, Pure Flix.”
But, it was no joke.
And the title was no joke, either. For whatever reason, it was released as God’s Not Dead 2.
To me, a name like that makes it seem as if the filmmakers didn’t get their point across the first time around, in spite of the movie’s message being inserted directly into the title. It looks like they could’ve at least tried to come up with something a little more creative for part two, like God’s Still Not Dead or God’s Not Dead: Same Premise, Different Setting.
As for the movie itself, God’s Not Dead 2 is just as predictable as the first film, except it’s not as interesting. I mean, even though the title of the original gives away the ending, at least it had a fresh concept that was somewhat intriguing. Here, you pretty much have a retelling of the same story: the main character has to defend their beliefs to their peers, while their future hangs in the balance.
Also like the first film, the non-believing characters are made to look like they’re out to get Christians and destroy America with their free-thinking and liberalism. Yet, at the same time, it preaches that it’s not our fellow man that Christians should be battling, it’s our spiritual enemy – the Devil.
And, similar to God’s Not Dead, the sequel tries to concentrate on multiple storylines, which don’t do much to add to the overall plot.
Obviously, a bulk of the film takes place inside a courtroom, where the teacher/faith/God/Jesus/religion are on trial for corrupting the minds of our youth. As the story moves along, these courtroom scenes become increasingly preposterous, yet somehow boring at the same time. The actors’ performances become more and more outlandish, while the religious experts brought onto the witness stand (like Lee Strobel and J. Warner Wallace) basically sound like they’re providing sound bites for a documentary.
Added to that, we never really see anyone on the witness stand from the secular community besides the principal of the school and the student’s father (who filed the lawsuit against the teacher). But, the father isn’t on the stand for long, and the principal gets “outsmarted” by the Christian teacher’s attorney pretty quickly. There are no Atheistic scholars who take the stand in response to the religious experts, so the audience isn’t allowed to think for themselves or draw their own conclusions.
To an extent, the filmmakers also make it sound as if Atheists not only believe that God doesn’t exist, but that Jesus never existed, either. A good chunk of the story is about proving that Jesus was real, and He’s a historical figure who can be talked about in the classroom. However, there are a lot of Atheists who don’t dispute the existence of Jesus – many of them say he was a wise teacher who offered sound advice like “love your enemies” and “help the needy.” They just don’t believe he’s the Son of God.
Overall, God’s Not Dead 2 is simply an overdramatized film that pushes most of its scenes into worst-case scenario territory. A lot of it plays out like a daytime soap opera, with certain scenes looking unintentionally comical.
Ironically, a pastor in the movie says he feels like he’s been hit with a truck carrying thick-covered Bibles. Oddly enough, that’s exactly how I felt after watching God’s Not Dead 2.
But, if you need a distraction from all the unbalanced sermonizing, you have an unneeded Newsboys concert at the end of the film and a good amount of product placement for the Toyota Prius to look forward to.
God’s Not Dead 2 gets an “Exodus” from me. And, if for whatever reason you decided to stick around until after the closing credits, you know that there will undoubtedly be a third God’s Not Dead. My hope is that the concept will be more original, and that the title will something better than God’s Not Dead 3… but I kind of doubt it.
MARY’S TAKE: EXODUS
I was kind of surprised when they announced a sequel to God’s Not Dead. After watching it, I feel it’s almost more of a remake in a different setting than a sequel. Granted, a few storylines did carry over, but the main plot just seemed redundant, which made it harder for me to get engaged in.
Truthfully, I liked God’s Not Dead better than God’s Not Dead 2. For one thing, the acting in this film wasn’t as good as in the first movie. Most of the characters seemed one-dimensional and were hard to relate to.
Not to mention the filmmakers used the witness stand as an excuse to hit you upside the head with their Bibles. Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely some interesting points made. But, I felt more like I was watching a Case for Christ documentary than a movie made for entertainment. This is an example of preaching with your words instead of your actions.
And, of course, this movie was extremely predictable. Although, like its predecessor, I did like that not everyone ended up being saved at the end. That may seem like an odd thing for a Christian to say, but I’m just asking for a little believability. If I know at the beginning of the story how it’s going to end, and that everyone is going to have a happy ending, I quickly lose interest. What’s the point, unless I’m sitting down to watch a fairy tale? Because that’s definitely not what happens in real life.
And speaking of unbelievability, Christian or not, what famous band do you know that’s going to answer their cell phone during a concert? Actually, what small-time garage band do you know that would do that?
Along the same lines, how likely is it that a legal aid lawyer for an unknown school teacher is going to be able to get famous authors as witnesses? Sure, they’re Christians, and they undoubtedly want to help a sister Christian out, but if I’m ever on trial for my faith, I’m not going to be holding my breath for a famous person to come to my aid.
Because of the far-fetched script and the cheesy acting, I’m giving God’s Not Dead 2 an “Exodus” rating. This leaves me dreading part three, which was hinted at after the closing credits. I just hope it turns out better than its predecessors.
How would you rate this film?