Movie Review: God’s Not Dead

MV5BMjEwNDQ3MzYyOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDE0ODM3MDE@__V1_SX214_“To me, [God’s] not dead.  And I don’t want anyone to get talked out of believing in Him just because some professor thinks they should.” – Josh Wheaton

I first heard about this movie last May, back when World Magazine did an article on Shane Harper and his acting career, including his new movie, God’s Not Dead.  Instantly a fan of both Shane and the movie, March 21st just couldn’t come fast enough.  My dad is a pastor, so when he got two free tickets to see an early screening of the movie last month, I begged to go.  He ended up taking my mom and came back going on and on about how great it was.  (This, from the guy who rarely enjoys movies!)

Some friends and I got to see it earlier today after our Bible study and… WOW.  It blew me away – the quality, acting, sets… everything.  It’s now one of my favorite Christian indie films.

The Story

image1“Present-day college freshman and devout Christian, Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), finds his faith challenged on his first day of Philosophy class by the dogmatic and argumentative Professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo). Radisson begins class by informing students that they will need to disavow, in writing, the existence of God on that first day, or face a failing grade. As other students in the class begin scribbling the words “God Is Dead” on pieces of paper as instructed, Josh find himself at a crossroads, having to choose between his faith and his future. Josh offers a nervous refusal, provoking an irate reaction from his smug professor. Radisson assigns him a daunting task: if Josh will not admit that “God Is Dead,” he must prove God’s existence by presenting well-researched, intellectual arguments and evidence over the course of the semester, and engage Radisson in a head-to-head debate in front of the class. If Josh fails to convince his classmates of God’s existence, he will fail the course and hinder his lofty academic goals. With almost no one in his corner, Josh wonders if he can really fight for what he believes. Can he actually prove the existence of God? Wouldn’t it just be easier just to write “God Is Dead” and put the whole incident behind him?

GOD’S NOT DEAD weaves together multiple stories of faith, doubt and disbelief, culminating in a dramatic call to action. The film will educate, entertain, and inspire moviegoers to explore what they really believe about God, igniting important conversations and life-changing decisions.” (from the official website)

The Cast and Characters

Josh Wheadon

Josh Wheaton is a very solid character – unwavering in his beliefs, yet still fallible.  One of the things I liked the most about him was the fact that he didn’t let anything get in the way of his relationship with God – even temporal things that he placed a lot of value in.  (Trying to tiptoe around the details so I don’t give up any major plot details!)  He feels God calling him to enter into this debate with his college professor, even though he feels totally inadequate, and defies anyone that would try to sway his determination.

Shane Harper is a Christian, and you can totally see that through the passion he puts into this certain character.  Even the best actors on the planet wouldn’t be able to portray Josh unless they truly believed in what they were saying – and Shane does it perfectly.  (See this article on him for more details on his faith.)  On a side note, I’ve only seen Shane in Good Luck, Charlie, so it was interesting to see Shane in another role.

image3Jeffery Radisson is the professor of Philosophy who challenges Josh’s claim that God is not dead.  At first, he’s only portrayed as a biased atheist.  However, during the course of the film, you find out more details of Professor Radisson’s life, including the reason why he hates God and his connections with the many subplots that are woven into the film.

Kevin Sorbo depicted Professor Radisson nearly flawlessly.  There were times when I sat back in my seat, completely taken aback by the professor – entirely because of Mr. Sorbo’s great acting skills.  He showed the depth of the character ever so slowly, making the professor a very interesting character, instead of a run-of-the-mill antagonist.

image7As I mentioned before, there were several subplots interwoven throughout the main plot, all interconnected in a fascinating way.  They made me think about the fact that it’s weird how much everyone on the planet is connected and how one person’s actions might effect the lives of many people around them – even people they don’t know.  For instance, Josh’s decision to debate his professor impacts two sub-characters who he never actually meets – one, for good, and the other, for worse.  Very intriguing.

A few of my favorite secondary characters were Martin, a Chinese transfer student, Ayisha, a Muslim girl who is questioning her faith, and Amy, a reporter who just heard some life-altering news.

image14Objectionable Content

This was a really clean film!  The only scene that could possibly be objectionable is an accident scene towards the end where some blood is shown and several close-ups on the victim’s face while this character tries to talk through the blood filling in his lungs.  Not too bad, though.

The Bottom Line

This movie is one of those (VERY) rare movies that you just want to recommend to anyone and everyone.  I enjoyed it a lot, especially during the climax when Josh said a really good argument during the third session of the debate.  Everyone started clapping and cheering and it was great.  Also, at the end, there’s a very neat marketing/bring-a-smile-to-God’s-face thing that I absolutely LOVED.  And I can’t say anything else without giving it up.  You’ll have to see it for yourselves.

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17 thoughts on “Movie Review: God’s Not Dead

  1. Pingback: imho: God’s not dead 2 | inklings press

  2. I can be a little tentative when it comes to Christian movies because the ones I’ve seen (aside from Fireproof, Facing the Giants, and Courageous) weren’t the best, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about this one, and your review has only made me want to see it more!

    (and by the way, I’ve only ever seen Shane Harper in Good Luck Charlie, too, so I’m curious to see him in another role as well:)

    • Same here. This one is one of the better ones – and you can trust me on that cuz I’ve seen a LOT. 🙂 You’ll love it.

      (He’s great!)

    • I went to see the movie with Eowyn, and no, they didn’t accept that. During one of the arguments, he said “If it’s true, then…” etc. This might be what you ere referring to, but Josh wasn’t agreeing with it, he was using it as an example. Actually, at one part he said “(evidence) shows that the beginning of creation fits with what we think would happen if God spoke the universe into existence”. They don’t accept it.
      SH

  3. It seemed like a Hollywood A-movie and yet a Christian movie. Well-acted, produced and directed per normal Hollywood standards, I thought. Engaging from start to finish. I was not fidgety in my seat.

    The movie was not just the debate. There was drama. If you are a father or daughter, especially from an Asian culture, and even if you are of Western origin, there is a moment in the movie when you will be moved with a surge of simultaneous emotions (intense sadness, compassion, suspense, hope, etc.), so much so that there is lump in my throat and tears in my eyes as I write this. I can still see the torment on the father’s face (an actor whom I have never seen before) and the daughter’s anguish.

    I would see this movie again if only to see that part again.

    The debate is only about 20-25 percent of the movie. There is a bunch of other situations involving relationships, conflicts and life choices we all make, all smoothly and engagingly woven into the main storyline that moves at a very good pace.

    For Christians in the habit of watching faith programs, studying the Bible, reading faith books and regularly attending church and Sunday school there won’t be much new in the debate. Nominal Christians and non-Christians who are intellectually honest will find the debate interesting, enlightening, even persuasive, and a couple of unexpected twists in the story captivating.

    I had never heard a particular Steven Hawking assertion (not mentioning it here because I don’t want to spoil the movie for you) which the Christian student uses in the debate. There may be things like that many may not have read or heard before.

    What should have struck me long before the movie is how atheists and progressives tend to fast-talk their arguments (apparently to impress the common man with their intellectual superiority by attempting to prevent the man’s brain from catching up with what they are saying) while believers and conservatives tend to be slow and deliberative in what they say because they want people to truly understand what they are writing and saying.

    Reminds me of a math major roommate I had in the Army who sent a girl a letter with the stamp deliberately affixed to the envelope upside down. He explained to me that the upside down stamp usually is a coded or subconscious message that the sender has romantic interest in the receiver. When the girl took the bait he went through this [faulty] probability reasoning to impress her, “proving” that the stamp was upside down merely by dumb chance.

    I believe it will be well worth the time and money you spend on this movie. I hope you won’t miss it. If you are a Christian it will help you help others. If you are not a Christian I believe it will indeed entertain you at a minimum or change your life in a way you now think is impossible.

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