Thinking Out Loud

August 16, 2016

Once Again, God’s Not Dead

God's Not Dead 2 BillboardReleasing today on DVD, this is, by my count, the third movie in a highly successful franchise for Pure Flix Entertainment, if you count the first God’s Not Dead from 2014 and then 2015’s Do You Believe? Like Snakes on a Plane, the film’s intention is clear from the outset; you know what you’re expecting.

With Do You Believe? I remarked at the time that there were more characters, more plot lines to follow and a lot more on-screen action compared with GND1 . With God’s Not Dead 2, there is less activity. This is a more cerebral film providing food for thought for the skeptic as well as the already converted. In some respects, I felt this 2016 movie was more ‘preaching to the choir,’ though I’ll grant that its potential to impact the unbeliever is still present.

With the two previous films, I observed that one of the major wins was the ability to transcend Christian clichés and awkward screen moments. This time around, I decided that a certain number of each may be inevitable if one is going to portray authentic Christians doing Christian things.

There were also what some might consider gratuitous appearances by two Christian apologists, J. Warner Wallace and Lee Strobel, but their presence was essential to a major plot point, though it’s unclear how the lawyer in the courtroom scene in which they appear was able to snag them. (Gary Habermas and Rice Broocks also appear.)

Melissa Joan Hart realistically plays the central character in the movie, a teacher under threat of losing not only her job, but everything else in a punitive action hoping to curb the presence of Christianity in the classroom once and for all. Her crime isn’t so much quoting what Matthew attributes to Jesus as it is doing so from memory, with conviction and being able to cite chapter and verse.

Jesse Metcalfe is cast as her somewhat inexperienced atheist lawyer who might not get the whole Jesus thing, but understands clearly the issues the case raises.

Hayley Orrantia of The Goldbergs TV series is student who is the supposed victim in the legal case in which her parents are the plaintiffs. Other cast members include Pat Boone, and Duck Dynasty‘s Sadie Robertson. And yes, The Newsboys are back. 

Boone also gets this line early in the film, “That’s the thing about atheism, it doesn’t take away the pain, it just takes away the hope.” Another key line is in the graphic above, a billboard which — in a real life imitates the film moment — was refused space at the Republican National Convention last month as being “too political and way too incendiary.”

Having fewer plot lines and characters to track than Do You Believe? made this more enjoyable, but with this third film in three years, I do wonder if the genre is being overworked. On the other hand, fiction is a great vehicle for apologetics — including some of my favorite books — and so I was fully engaged as the movie developed. 

Note: If you’re watching the DVD, be sure to continue through the closing credits for what is either an interesting sequel-begging scene, or a nod to the composers who end their pieces with an unresolved chord.


Movie has been provided courtesy of Sony Home Entertainment Canada and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

I received a screening link, features on the full DVD include:

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Man, Myth, Messiah with Rice Broocks
  • Between Heaven and Hollywood with David A.R. White
  • Visual Effects of God’s Not Dead 2
  • Filming in Arkansas
  • First Liberty
  • Trailers
  • English and Spanish Audio
  • English and Spanish Subtitles

 

 

6 Comments »

  1. Plot quiz: In God’s Not Dead 2, which law was the teacher alleged to have broken that landed her in court? Bonus points if you can cite exactly when that is explained in the movie.

    Comment by RandyW — August 16, 2016 @ 8:10 am

    • Interesting. She violated a school board policy which was tied to the separation of church and state amendment; though the trial showed that isn’t want the constitution framers intended by that amendment.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — August 16, 2016 @ 8:48 am

      • So, is it your contention 1: that the FFRF or ACLU would have a problem with what was said, and 2: that, in such a case, nobody would consult the school district’s lawyer(s), and 3: that said lawyers would not understand that nothing untoward happened, and 4: that, even if something untoward HAD happened, that the teacher would be the defendant? Do you realize how many layers of abject ignorance regarding the law are required of the audience to even approach this being “cerebral?” At every turn, this story makes no sense, and it relies upon a patently absurd and impossible premise to craft a persecution narrative. The writers must resort to outright lying to create the circumstances around which thd story revolves. If your story relies entirely upon a Bizarro World understanding of reality to make its point, what does that say about the point being made? HINT: Only in Bizarro World is the story even a potential reality. In reality, it’s an absurd distortion of how things work designed to appeal to emotions with a blatant disregard for facts or the intelligence of humanity (which, to be fair, nobody went broke underestimating).

        Comment by RandyW — August 16, 2016 @ 10:23 am

      • Do you realize how many layers of abject ignorance regarding the law are required of the audience to even approach this being “cerebral?”

        Well, it certainly made you think! If you look at what I said, I’m simply contrasting the “chase scene” type of action and quick scene cuts in the previous movie to the more thoughtful, verbal type of script we have here. I thought Do You Believe for lack of a better word, had more movement in it, and wanted to express the different nature of this one.

        But you’re right, one has to look to see a crime here. It seems like she crossed a line simply by knowing the chapter and verse reference. The Evangelical community thrives best when it is united against a common enemy. That mentality is present in this picture.

        In the real world, would this case ever get to court? The improbability is reflected in the lawyer’s decision not to appeal. Would the defense lawyer be able to fly in Strobel and Wallace? It would be costly.

        I ran this review because I think this will be one of the more significant DVD releases in Christian bookstores between now and Christmas, but I make it clear that “I do wonder if the genre is being overworked.” There were four people in the house yesterday afternoon as I screened this, and none of the others were interested in watching it.

        However, in fairness and in balance, the movie asks us to ignore the aforementioned plot contrivances in order to score a small handful of apologetic points.

        Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — August 16, 2016 @ 10:48 am

  2. Wow, I get review copies of books. Paul Wilkinson gets review copies of movies. He’s big time.

    I saw God’s Not Dead in the theater but haven’t seen this movie yet. As a matter of fact I drove a church bus full of people to see the first film. I wouldn’t quit talking about it until my wife had seen it as well. I was afraid this sequel would be an attempt to take the same story and make it bigger. Even if that’s the case, you guys make it sound like it worked.

    Comment by Clark Bunch — August 17, 2016 @ 6:09 am

    • No, it’s an entirely different story; not a sequel.
      And it was a screening link. I didn’t get to “keep” the movie, and there was no popcorn stand open.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — August 17, 2016 @ 8:37 am


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