Thursday, April 10, 2014

God's Not Dead Review

It's true. He's not. I am not ashamed to admit that I am a devout Christian. In fact, I just recently spent 10 hours this past weekend listening to messages from modern apostles and prophets via the 184th annual General Conference from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I'll put my unashamed plug for that. If you want to know what we as Mormons believe, go check at least a few of those messages out. You can find them on Moving on, a couple days later I was sitting in my apartment debating which movie to go see. Being that I was in a spiritual, Christian mood, I decided to check out the new Christian movie, God's Not Dead, which recently came out of nowhere to open in the top five of the Box Office. The movie is far from perfect and is definitely not for everyone, but I personally walked out uplifted and inspired. If you are a someone that has a faith in Christ, I recommend you give this movie a shot.

The movie has a lot of side stories that I will touch on briefly, but the main story we follow is a college student named Josh Wheaton. Josh is taking a philosophy class from Professor Radisson. On the first day of class, Professor Radisson gives a big lecture on why there is no God. He makes the whole class get out a piece of paper and write the words "God is dead" on the paper, sign their name, and turn it in. Josh can't do it because he is a Christian and thus has a strong belief in God. He feels if he does this, then he is betraying his God. So what does Professor Radisson do? For the next three class periods, Josh has to get up during the last 20 minutes and defend the idea that God's not dead. If he fails, the jury being his classmates, he will essentially fail the class. While this is going on, there are several side stories that show various people dealing with challenges of their own.

The big message of this movie is obviously that God's not dead. But diving deeper, the message that the movie sends to the world is one of standing up for what you believe it. All Josh had to do is write a few words on a piece of paper and sign it. He could've also just dropped the class. But he decided he needs to defend God. In doing this, his parents are against him, he loses his girlfriend, and his semester is in jeopardy as well his entire college career. Is this a perfectly realistic situation? I don't know. Probably not. But the principle stands true. If the whole world chooses to stand against you and asks you to deny your faith, what do you do? Do you give into the pressures of this world and make your life easier in the moment or do you risk your current situation in favor of a good standing in the eyes of God? I liked that. Stand up for what you believe. Don't give into the pressures of the world. Keep the faith and move forward even if it seems like the odds against you are impossible to overcome.

For a small budget movie, one thing I was surprised is how well the more technical aspects of the movie were. It was shot well. The music was great. The acting was even phenomenal across the board. I especially liked the performance of one of the side characters who gets diagnosed with cancer. There is a scene where she completely loses it and it is so emotional that it almost brought me to tears. But as I mentioned, this movie is far from perfect. First off, while I really liked the strong Christian message of the movie, there could've been a lot more thought put into the actual story of the movie. Yes, the message is great, but some of the things that happen just feel forced and unrealistic. Like I mentioned, the situation with Josh seems a bit far-fetched. How it resolves is also not done so well. I won't say what happens with Professor Radisson, but his story arch in the last part of the movie is disappointing. Also, the girl who gets diagnosed with cancer tells her boyfriend that she has cancer and what does he do? He breaks up with her. I mean, come on. I know they were trying to set something up where life just kept collapsing on this girl, but would anyone really be that insensitive? Absolutely not.

Also, I do have to point out that possibly the worst part of the movie is that I don't feel that they portray non-Christians accurately. During Josh's debate with Professor Radisson, the moral compass idea is brought up. Professor Radisson says that someone can be an atheist and still have a moral compass. Josh responds that if you don't believe in God, there is no point in having a moral compass and for some reason everyone took Josh's side on that. As a devout Christian, I take Professor Radisson's side on that. I do believe there is such thing as a moral atheist. Saying there can't be is offensive to those people. Also, they portrayed Muslims in a horrible light. There is a side story where a Muslim girl has converted to Christianity but is afraid to tell her dad because of what he will think. When the dad finally finds out, he drags her out of the house, throws her on the porch, and completely disowns her. This I feel is not fair to Muslims. I'm not an expert on their religion, but I do know they are a very misunderstood religion and I believe they are a lot more tolerant that this movie displayed.

Those things aside, I did walk out of this movie with a positive feeling towards the movie. Some reviews of the movie I have read say they don't like it because it is preachy and just Christian propaganda. Uhhh... of course. What did you think it was going to be? If you don't want to see a movie that will preach to you that God's not dead, don't go watch a movie called God's Not Dead. Overall, I've been comparing this movie to the type of movies that the Sherwood Baptist Church has put out, most notably Fireproof and Courageous. If you like those movies, I think you will like this one, because it has a similar feel. Yes, a lot of the story aspects could've been a lot more believable and the movie could've been more respectful to non-Christians, but the movie tries to teach a message that God's not dead and in that aspect it does what it sets out to do. If you are not a Christian, unfortunately this isn't the movie that will turn the tables for you, but if you are a Christian, I think you should give this movie a shot. I give God's Not Dead a 7.5/10

1 comment:

  1. I never saw Courageous but was totally in love with Fireproof, so maybe I'll have to give this one a shot :)