Monday, May 5, 2014


Mike and I went to see God's Not Dead Saturday night.  A little late to the party, but we'd both heard much about it and decided to go check it out.

First of all, I loved the premise, I loved the apologetics, I loved the overall cleanness of the movie.  No language issues, and there was no intense sensuality.  I loved the idea of seeing, in a theatre, a movie defending God.  I loved seeing that young man do his best, even though very nervously, to break down the defenses of that incredibly arrogant professor.

The online reviews are mixed.  As one might expect, the Christian publications praised it, and the secular outlets panned it.  And, frankly, there were some things in the movie that gave fodder for people looking to criticize the movie.  Some things didn't seem well planned or executed.  Some examples:
  • The young man was a college freshman.  That meant that at most he was 19 years old, probably 18.  He certainly didn't look like an older student starting college.  Yet he and his girlfriend were supposedly together for six years.  That means that they were a "couple" starting at age 12 or 13?  That is not realistic.  Furthermore, she was adamantly against his defending God to the professor.  She did not appear to share his faith at all.  They were together that long, through tumultuous teen years, with values that different?  Not real. 
  • On the same note, the professor's girlfriend Mina was supposed to be a dedicated Christian, yet she was living, not even with a nominal Christian or even just a "religious person," but with an outspoken atheist.  That also doesn't ring true.
  • There were too many plot lines.  The two listed above were the main ones, plus the converted Muslim girl thrown out of her house, the pastor who's not sure if he's making a difference, and the in-your-face reporter who finds out she has cancer.  Five subplots in a 113-minute movie, and also the issue of Mina's mother with dementia with her unsaved and very mean son.  It's just not possible to adequately develop that many plots and that many characters in under two hours.  It would have been better to limit the plots and characters, and then further develop the personalities and conflicts of the ones that survived the cut.
  • Another implausibility:  That two men and a car rental agent would have that much trouble figuring out how to get a car started so they could take a trip.
  • The weather was beautiful at the beginning of the concert; then, when the professor was running to find Mina, rain starts pouring down outside the arena, and tragedy strikes (trying not to be a spoiler here).  The rain continues pouring down throughout the conclusion of the tragedy; then, when the camera hones in on the arena again, there is no rain at all nor any signs of any recent weather event.  Just poor filming.
  • The unsaved people were so mean.  Really mean, and really unkind.  Stereotypes of what many would think of atheistic people.  I don't think even an atheist, even one who has just received a promotion he is excited about, would be that mean and calloused toward a girlfriend - not an acquaintance, but a girlfriend! - who has just received a cancer diagnosis.  I think that, due to the Holy Spirit's general presence in the world (not our own goodness), that most atheists and non-Christians are much kinder and gentler - which makes it even more difficult for them to see that they should have a reason to change.  The professor, the unsaved philosophy faculty, the brother of Mina--all extremely typecast as mean, mean, mean.
Those were the things that troubled me about the planning and production.  I could see how those things would be barriers to those looking for reasons not to like the movie.

As for the Newsboys concert - That is difficult for me to reconcile.  I'm just too old, and was taught too strongly, that we should be separate from such music--and the concert at the end of the movie was not even borderline, but was very much the music of rockers (as was even stated in the newspaper headline shown in the film).  Having said that, it is also true that God can use anything, and doesn't need my approval to do so!  And it was evident from their talking to the lady journalist that they do know God, and were able to be used by Him in her life.  So it is just one thing to consider in a movie that has much to offer.

God's Not Dead can be a powerful tool.  It is too bad that some of the technical aspects of the film were not considered more carefully.  (Then, of course, it's easy for some schoolteacher who is Monday-afternoon quarterbacking the production, to have little to no idea of what all is involved.)  I would go see it again.  I would take non-Christians with me.  I see why it has been an encouragement and blessing to many, and why God is using it among Christians, and hopefully atheists also, for His glory.

1 comment:

rk2 said...

Very interesting. I really have heard much pro or con. Thanks for the review.