Steven Escareno is an amateur film critic that writes about movies in his spare time.
God's Not Dead
Director: Harold Cronk
Writers: Chuck Konzelman, Cary Solomon
Cast: Maria Canals-Barrera, Pat Boone, Robin Givens, Melissa Joan Hart, Brad Heller, Ernie Hudson, Paul Kwo, Trisha LaFache, Jon Lindstrom, Jesse Metcalfe, Benjamin A. Onyango, Hayley Orrantia, Sadie Robertson, Carey Scott, Fred Dalton Thompson
Synopsis: When a high school teacher is asked a question in class about Jesus, her response lands her in deep trouble.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some thematic elements
3 / 10
- The story has a more believable premise
- The subplots are actually interconnected this time, so they don't feel like they're pointless to the main story like it was in the first movie.
- Acting was pretty good
- Story felt a bit corny sometimes
- Dialogue was freaking pretentious, and made a lot of the antagonists sound like cartoon bad guys half the time.
- Pacing was ungodly slow because of all the exposition and subplots that bog down the film's run time.
- The end credit scene was kind of pointless.
- Humor wasn't funny.
- Most of the antagonists were one dimensional characters
Let the straw man argument begin...again...
To be completely honest, I hated "God's Not Dead." Not because it was preachy, or anything of that nature. It was mostly because I found it pretentious, and absurd. Not to mention it was borderline insulting to real Christianity within itself. Throughout the film, it portrayed anyone who wasn't a Christian as basically being a giant a**hole with an agenda towards Christianity, or they were simply obnoxious pricks, while it portrayed all the Christians as being this saintly bunch that merely desire peace and tolerance.
Hell, the first film didn't even spare the Muslims either, as they had to portray them in a bad light as well.
In some ways, it reminded me of a modern day, "Birth of a Nation" by D.W. Griffith, where the filmmakers behind the camera had an obvious agenda to spread their own political propaganda. The entire point of both films were to vilify whoever the filmmaker didn't agree with on a certain topic, while glorifying those who share same said point of view as the filmmakers as saints. In "Birth of a Nation", it was vilifying slaves that wanted their freedom, after the Civil War, and anyone who agreed with them. While the slaves that wanted to still serve under their masters, and those that were pro slavery, were dubbed as the good guys. In "God's Not Dead", it's basically same thing.
But the only reason why you don't hear anyone cry foul over it is because of the fact that it praises god that suddenly it makes vilifying those with different point of views okay, which leads us to the sequel, "God's Not Dead 2."
While it's not quite as bad as it's prequel, it's still not very good. Unlike the first movie that had an absurd premise that would never happen in real life, this sequel presents a scenario that's a bit more realistic.
In the first film, it was about a deeply religious college student that was asked by his philosophy professor to renounce his religion by writing down, "god is dead", or else he'd have to defend the antithesis that god isn't dead. And of course in the first movie, the student nobly embraced the challenge by debating with his philosophy teacher in class about it; in spite of his professor even THREATENING HIM by saying how he'd make sure he'd never get a degree in law if he attempted to debate that god was real. Yeah, I think it's safe to say his a** would've been fired.... Moving on.
In "God's Not Dead 2", a high school history teacher is asked a question in class about how the teachings of Ghandi relate to some of the things Jesus Christ said in the bible. The history teachers answers, as she quotes a few verses from the bible, and even goes onto to explain how they relate to some of the things said by Ghandi himself. Unknowingly to her, one of her students recorded that session and uploaded it online.
Needless to say, she gets accused of forcing her religion down her students' throats, so the school board tells her that she can either apologize for what she did, and admit she was wrong, or she can get fired. Well, she gets fired. But that's not where it ends though. In addition to firing her, the government decides to make an example out of her. They don't just want to have her get fired. No no no......they want to put her on trial.
In fact, the parents of the young girl, that asked the question, are confronted by the District Attorney's office, as they claim their motive is to make sure everyone knows that god is dead, as they try to get them to agree to NOT have her testify on the teacher's behalf. And to top it all off, they end the meeting with the lawyers by saying, "We are going to prove once and for all that God is dead."
I'm sorry, but who the hell wrote this script? I mean seriously who the f**k talks like this in real life? Granted, I'm not a lawyer, but I doubt seriously a legitimate lawyer would talk like this. Wouldn't their closing statement to the parents be something along the lines of "We can't have teachers pushing their beliefs on students. Think of the future of our children." Or something like that?
Of course, this movie also makes a brief reference to "Duck Dynasty." During the juror selection process, one of the jurors openly admits to watching "Duck Dynasty." No reason why he says that because it's not intricate to the plot, but since Willie and Korie Robertson were in the last film, why the f*** not....
And to top it all off, Amy Ryan is now cured of her cancer. That's right folks. When she was nothing more than a mad Atheist blogger hellbent on destroying Christianity, she was diagnosed with cancer in "God's Not Dead." Now that she's found Jesus she no longer has cancer. What are the odds?
Like the last movie, it tends to vilify the characters with opposing point of views from the filmmakers themselves, while portraying the god loving Christians as victims of circumstances. Although to be fair, they do add an atheist lawyer that defends the teacher, so I guess "God's Not Dead 2" has another thing over it's predecessor.
Before I say anything else, I would like to point out that I'm NOT an atheist, nor do I condemn Christianity in any form. The truth of the matter is that this film very pretentious, with some of the most horrendous dialogue that I've ever heard on the big screen.
While not quite as bad as the first one, it's still fairly mediocre at best. Most of the characters are often one dimensional archetypes, and the story is bogged down with too many subplots. Although to be fair, the subplots in this film connect a lot better with each other than the ones from the previous one.
In the last movie, most of the subplots really didn't have a lot to do with each other, so it made them pointless to the main narrative. In the first one, you had an atheist blogger that gets cancer. A selfish prick of a boyfriend that dumps her upon finding out said news about her cancer, yet we're supposed to feel sorry for him when he feels bad about his mom's dementia. Two priests constantly having problems going on vacation, and a Muslim girl who gets thrown out of her house because she's a closet Christian. The Atheist professor has relationship problems with his Christian girlfriend because he apparently can't resist mocking her for her religion. What does that have to do with the main focus of the story being about a theological debate between a Christian student and his Atheist college professor? Absolutely nothing, which is why the first movie felt a bit weak.
In "God's Not Dead 2", the problem is addressed by having them all interconnected, which does bode well for the central story. For instance. The former Atheist blogger, turned born again Christian, struggles with her life changing experience, as it somehow leads to her helping out the teacher later on, by spreading news about her story. The priest from the first movie plays a more pivotal role this time, as he suspects the government might try to censor the church in light of the trial. While not the best setup in the world, you have to applaud the filmmakers at least for making the story flow more cohesively this time.
Overall though, "God's Not Dead 2" is miles above it's horrendously god awful prequel. No pun intended. However, that still doesn't make it good. As I mentioned before, most of the dialogue is pretentious, and the various subplots drag down the film's pacing too much that it feels almost like a chore to get through it all.
Don't get me wrong, I love that the filmmakers attempted to improve on some of the first movie's mistakes, but it still comes off as a film that's pushing it's own political agenda, which is not what Christianity is about.
Not to mention the shameless self promotion of both Mike Huckabee and "Duck Dynasty" seems forced, and ironic considering that Mike recently defended a pedophile in Josh Duggar, while Phil Robertson advocated for people to marry girls as young 15 YEARS OLD? But what do I know? Besides, I'm not here to judge Mike Huckabee, or the cast of "Duck Dynasty." Nah, I just thought my readers would just love to know that fun little fact, so they can know how IRONIC it is that we're getting moral advice from them in this film. However, that's another topic to discuss at another time.
To put it simply. Unless you're a big fan of pro religious movies like this, then I wouldn't bother seeing this one in theaters.
Since this series wants to make the "Duck Dynasty" cast look like model citizens, I would like you all to check out this video that might prove otherwise
© 2016 Steven Michaels