God's Not Dead: Ripped to Pieces
A few evenings ago my family watched the newest, bestest, christian movie ever. It was "God's Not Dead". I think I shall start by saying that the first line in this post is sarcastic. I had heard just how great this movie was from a lot of people who had gone to see God's Not Dead when it first came out. Since then I had read a few reviews on it that made it look not so good, and more reviews that sang its praises. Naturally I wanted to see the movie and judge it myself. So my family and I watched it, then ripped it to shreds. The poor movie didn't survive very well.
I do not mean to offend anyone, but these are my honest thoughts on this movie. You may very well think it is a great, really good movie, I am not asking you to change your mind, but read this and think about what I have said. I am not just bashing this movie because I want to, but because I want to give my honest thoughts on it. Just because a movie calls itself christian does not mean it is all good, there are good bits, some.
What I didn't like
~First off the movie is very confusing. The first scenes introduce so many characters, way too many characters in fact. As with any story it is important to have the right amount of characters, the shorter more simple the story, the less characters. Through the movie we get to know that almost every character has some complicated relationships with another, and we get to follow all their stories as well as the main Josh one. Most of the characters are actually completely unnecessary to the story.
~Flat characters, they don't change much except for becoming christians.
~Stereotypical story line for the "Bad Guy" he is a jerk and in the end he finds God and is no longer a jerk... Spoiler...... he is dead... the no longer "bad guy" that is, not God.
~All the non christians are villainized, they are not HUMAN. This is probably one of the worst bits. They are portrayed as monsters. Which is just not true. So often christian books and movies have these stereotypes in them, that aren't even real.
~It is unbelievable, as in any story there must be a suspension of disbelief. We can only go along with so much before we say that is just not realistic, it could not happen. Seriously how realistic is it to convert a whole class.... half might be believable.... but no way all of them. And the main characters power-point! How much did he spend on that... he put it all together in a week.... where did he get those amazing graphics from? Sorry I just can't believe that. Even while I was watching the movie I wondered how he knew exactly what questions the professor would ask. Sometimes the MC/Josh paused to think about it for a while but then he has his amazing power-point graphics to show his answer.
~The professor just let Josh talk and said nothing till he finished. (this was not a point I noticed about the movie but my Dad did) A real professor would be constantly interrupting and not letting Josh sway the class. He possibly may not have even given Josh the chance to.
I was not impressed.
|See there is the evil villainous professor with a personal vendetta against God |
and the young persecuted christian making a stand ......
What I liked (and other things I didn't)
Not much. There was one moment in the movie, that was almost completely unrelated to the rest, that I really liked; a scene in which an old lady with dementia has a clear moment and speaks some profound words. I liked Martin the Chinese character. And the fact that "God's not dead", yes we should all be able to give an answer for the hope we have....
I'm not sure that Josh did the right thing though. Especially at the end, it struck me that he was being very rude to his professor. A soft answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger. Also, there were lines in the movie that said something about the class judging God... or putting him on trial. In Luke 4:12 it says; And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Maybe I'm just being hyper sensitive though. Personally I think I would have dropped the class after writing "God's Not Dead" or "God said, 'I died, and behold I am alive forevermore.' Revelation 1:18" on the piece of paper.
I'm not even sure exactly what the message is .... of course there is God's not dead," but that is not enough.... God exists, sure but "You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! James 2:19"
I think, God's Not Dead is also about a christian standing up for his faith, that is a great thing for christians to do. We are commanded to go and share the gospel and yes that can be anywhere, at home, school, college, we don't need to all be missionaries to other people groups. We are called to be bright lights every day wherever God has us. We as christians need that encouragement to stand firm. But wouldn't it be more encouraging if it were wrapped in a great story!
I like a good story, God's Not Dead is not one.
A great story is what sticks with people and therefore the message that is enfolded in it, even if it only shows at moments.
Not that it is ever going to happen, but what I think christians should do, is buy the rights to a good book that has some christian bits in it. Then make a movie of it.
I have found that some books I love so much because of their christian parts or morals, are then made into a movie by some secular person and it loses those amazing bits. The bits that really made the book. Just imagine if a christian person had made Lord of the Rings, it would have kept more of those bits about it not being just fate and those contrasts of hope in the darkness. Sure I like the LORT movie, but it is more about the war of the ring and fighting and all the handsome warriors and less of the hope, less of the light one day overpowering the darkness despite all hope.
I would suspect the same has been done to the Divergent book series.... I have not seen the movies but I can guess that it is now all about the action and violence and relying on yourself or something.
What we need are some christian writers to write a great story, and tell it in a great way, have it full of real humans. Letting the message be secondary to the story. If we want to hear a message we will download a sermon, that is not what people want when they watch a movie or read a book, they want a story.
We need christian screen writers who can craft a story, one that is good enough for publishes to accept.
Anyway God's Not Dead.... I can think of one other scene I liked, when the car wouldn't start. Faith like that is rare. It was also a good reminder that sometimes when things don't go our way and our plans are spoiled God has his bigger better plan in mind.
So after all that, I would not recommend this movie. Instead go and study your bible or go witnessing for 112 minutes that would be something worth your time.
I just don't believe that this movie is a good as it is made out to be.