God's Not Dead

God's Not Dead is a movie with a great premise inspired by several true stories. A Christian college student in secular philosophy class is challenged by his atheist professor with an ultimatum: sign a document denouncing God or prove that God's not dead. If he is unable to convince the class, he fails.

Here's the good news. It's a movie with a great message. It was craftfully written with many characters and story lines which made the movie engaging and entertaining.

Here's the bad news. It had a few cheesy moments that made me cringe a bit. It's a shame that Christian movies can't to seem get past this hump. This movie did nothing to help the stereotype.

It follows Wheaton, a likeable good-looking college kid, on his journey to prove God exists against the pressures of skeptics, including a controlling and unsupportive girlfriend. There is a student from communist China who has never experienced God, a beautiful Arabic girl decked in a hijab who hides her Christian faith from her family, a liberal journalist with a chip on her shoulder, a heartless businessman who neglects his family, and so many more. Their stories intertwined and I appreciate a movie that can do that well without boring or confusing the viewer.

The cast included a "liberal" journalist who had a bumper sticker on her car that read "I love evolution." I actually laughed aloud.  Perhaps they could have gotten the point across more subtly with a "COEXIST" sticker or an "Obama 2008" one?

There were sappy moments and the token climactic scene that accompanies almost every cheesy movie. You know the one. It starts when one single person stands to make a proclamation in a room full of people. This inspires one person to follow suit until one by one the whole crowd is standing.

There were guest appearances by Duck Dynasty's Willie and Korie Robertson and by the Christian band Newsboys. Although I admire the Robertsons, they are not actors and the acting was stiff and a little painful to watch. Perhaps more painful was the Newsboys' fictional encounter with the journalist. Their obviously scripted lines came on the heels of a comment the journalist made about unscripted interviews. It was ironic.

God's Not Dead did redeem itself in the end, though. The content was rich enough that you could look past the clichés. Aside from the guest appearances, the film felt genuine thanks to seasoned actor Kevin Sorbo and Shane Harper, who played Josh Wheaton.  He was both believable and likeable.

The face-off between student and professor was probably the best part of the movie. The movie touched on all the big names in the forefront of public debate like Dawkins and Strobel and others. Debate was both sound and expertly logical and pulled off without feeling like preaching.

God wins in the end, of course. But when doesn't He?

Overall, even though the movie is predictably hokey at times, it is worth watching. Not one to miss.

Copyright 2014, Victoria Garaitonandia Gisondi