Sunday, April 6, 2014

God's Not Dead mixes logic with heart

Movie Title:   God's Not Dead
PG, 1 hour 35 minutes

Grade:   B-

In a Nutshell:  Christians will enjoy it.  Atheists will be annoyed by it, hate it, and loudly argue how offended they are by it.  A question raised in the film that I’ve often asked myself is: Why isn’t it enough for atheists to simply not believe what religious people do?  Why do they have to also tear down and destroy others’ faith?

Is this piece good filmmaking?  No, not really.  It kind of felt like a made-for-TV special.  It’s overly melodramatic and certainly stacks the deck in its favor, but believers will have their heart strengthened and leave the theater filling renewed and encouraged to share their faith. 

Uplifting theme:  God lives!  I loved the challenge at the end of the movie that said “Join the movement.  Text everyone you know:God's Not Dead  The audience I sat with clapped when they saw those words.  In fact, the lights in the theater were raised before the movie was over, allowing viewers to do just that…text their witness. Sweet.  I love seeing technology used for good.

Things I liked:
  • I’ve always loved Kevin Sorbo ever since he brought the fun TV series Hercules The Legendary Journeys - Seasons 1-6 Bundle to life in the 1990’s.
  • It was nice to see Christians portrayed as logically-thinking, good people, rather than as the fanatic buffoons Hollywood usually paints them to be in the movies.
  • I’m always impressed with Hollywood actors are willing to show their faith in movies like this.  Dean Cain stepped up to the plate.
  • I thought it was nice that they included a side-story that depicted the price some Muslims are paying to accept Christianity.
  • Reverend Jude didn’t just talk about his faith; he showed it when he was willing to load up a car that didn’t work and then pray that it would work.  It seemed like a gimmicky miracle, but that actually happened to my son!
  • On opening night, this film was completely sold out by a local church group.  I would like Hollywood to take notice that the Christian community is more than eager to support positive and family-friendly movies that promote good values.  Is that asking too much?  Now, if all the Christian movie-makers could work on making films that aren’t too cheesy and embarrassing, that would be terrific!

Things I didn’t like:
  • The contrived Spartacus moment felt more forced than inspiring.  I did, however, think the sweet Asian student’s spontaneous leap of faith was sweet and sincere.
  • After the recent Duck Dynasty: Season 3 controversy, I thought it was interesting that Willie Robertson from that reality show was featured as a suitable spokesperson in the movie during the big, evangelical concert.
  • The background scene music during the movie was pretty sappy.  The gospel rock band at the end however, The Newsboys, were pretty good.
  • SPOILER ALERT: I thought making that “certain character” die at the end was lame.  I would have preferred to see him live his newly found faith than simply claim deathbed repentance.
  • The non-Christians in the film are portrayed as monstrous villains.  I know there are jerks out there, but it was too over-the-top for a film that was supposed to be presenting a logical case on even ground.

Inspiring lines:
  • To the wrong person, you’ll never have any worth.  But to the right person, you’ll mean everything.”  - Pastor Dave
  • “Nonsense remains nonsense, even when talked by world-famous scientists.”  - Dr. John Lennox from the book God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design Is It Anyway?
  • “It’s easy to dismiss what you don’t understand or what you don’t want to understand.”  - Josh Wheaton
  • “I’m leaving you” said Mina (Cory Oliver) to her boyfriend, Professor Radisson.  He arrogantly declared “I won’t allow it.”  She wisely teaches him “It’s not your choice.”  I wish all girls who are treated badly by men would remember that.  She put him in his place earlier when he was treating her poorly in front of dinner guests and she said “Now if you’ll excuse me…it’s time for the help to depart.”  Girls, you NEVER have to be treated like garbage.  I hope you know that.
  • Professor Radisson asks “If God is all good and all-powerful, why does he allow evil?”  The truth taught by Josh is explained in two words “Free will.”
  • “How can you hate someone you say doesn’t exist?” asks Josh Wheaton to Professor Radisson when he admits he hates God for letting his beloved mother die when he was only a young boy.
  • “So, where do YOU find your hope?”  - The British guy in the rock band Newsboys.
  • “God is good all the time.  And all the time, God is good.”  - Pastor Dave
  • “Gnothi seauton” – Socrates   (Know Thyself)

Tips for parents:  Young children may be bored, as there is not a lot of action.  The philosophical discussions may go over their heads, but the points made in the movie are definitely worth a family dinner conversation.
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