UPDATE: God’s Not Dead opened in the top five at the box office.
There are two types of “Christian movie” and both have their pros and cons. Big Hollywood films (I’m looking at you Noah) have the budget for things like famous actors, directors and really good special effects. But although the target audience is Christians the people making the film are often not. Noah hasn’t opened in the U.S. but I have a feeling it’s going more like 300 adapted for Christians and less like the Genesis narrative. The other type of movie is made by Christians but on a much smaller budget. What you get is unknown or has-been actors and really shallow script writing. I run the risk of hurting some feelings here, but I’m about to be honest (if Flywheel or Facing the Giants are your favorite movies ever, close this webpage). Those movies left me with the distinct impression that having faith and saying enough prayers will allow me to sell all my cars and/or win every football game this season. And after winning all the football games, despite having several losing seasons in a row, my wife will stay and our family will be happy and healthy. What happens if a faithful Christian loses a business, or every football game? What if I repent and say lots of prayers and my wife still leaves? Or loses the baby? While these films may be inspirational, it leads many to be critical of the Christian film industry.
Having said that, God’s Not Dead is a great film. All I knew going in was that Willie and Korie Robertson were making their big screen debuts. I was afraid it was going to be Duck Commander: the Movie. His cameo appearance is actually small, and I have to say very well done. I did not know that Dean Cain and Kevin Sorbo were in this movie. Without any spoilers let me simply say neither one of the former superheroes are the good guys in this film. So why is this a good movie?
The movie is inspirational without ending like an episode of Touched by an Angel. They don’t sell every car nor win every football game. Like I said, no spoilers, but I will say that one of the major characters dies before the end. The style of this movie, and I admit not my favorite device for story telling, is to follow three or four different story arcs that eventually all tie in together. It is a Christian film that is meant to inspire, but was done in such a way that this critically-thinking, middle-aged preacher/blogger could swallow. And that says a lot.
It’s a good introduction to apologetics. One the principle plot lines involves an unashamed Christian student defending his faith in his freshman intro to philosophy class. Yes, it’s a little cliche with the atheist professor and what not, but the discussion is not dumbed down. They effectively demonstrate you can be a scholarly, thinking Christian and that faithfulness is not a matter of wearing blinders. I would rather see this movie ten more times than watch Ken Ham debate Bill Nye again. I said that on the bus and got an Amen!
I should mention the Newsboys. You might recognize Michael Tate from D.C. Talk, now the front man for the Newsboys. Each of them has a small speaking part, and the film ends on this note:
God’s Not Dead is not a blockbuster Hollywood movie, nor was it made by well-meaning Christians that produced a bad movie for the right reasons. If you have been avoiding it thinking it might be one of those, give it a chance. I enjoyed it once and plan to again. And you can trust my opinion, I’m a blogger 😉