24 March 2014

Movie Review: "God's Not Dead"

Rated: PG for thematic material, brief violence and an accident scene
Starring: Kevin Sorbo, Shane Harper, and Dean Cain
Released: March 21, 2014 (theaters)
Synopsis: On the first day of college freshman Josh Whedon's (Shane Harper, Good Luck Charlie) philosophy class, the entire class is asked to turn in a paper with a mere three words: "God Is Dead!" As a Christian, though, Josh can't do that...so his professor, Mr. Radisson (Kevin Sorbo, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys) issues a challenge: Either Josh convinces the class that God exists...or he fails the class.  Many people--including Josh's girlfriend--think he is crazy, but he presses on, determined to convince his classmates of the existence of God.  Is he up to the task?

(Spoilers are in this review.  Be warned.)

Artistic Merit

Plot: 4/5
When the film first started, I thought it had too many subplots, but those all get wrapped up quite nicely by the time the credits roll.  Still, I did feel that maybe one of them could have been removed.

Production Values: 4/5
The acting was great, which is to be expected from experienced actors such as Kevin Sorbo, Dean Cain (Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) and Shane Harper.  I mostly liked the soundtrack, though I thought it odd that one dramatic scene was free of music.  The sets were well-done, too.  However, I still felt like I was watching a direct-to-video film on a large-screen TV instead of one that was meant for cinemas.

Moral Content

Positive Elements: 5/5
There's little that wasn't positive.  Faith in God is celebrated and defended; people discover the existence of a supreme being; an avowed atheist confesses Jesus as Lord before he dies.

Sexual Content: 4/5
Josh and his girlfriend kiss once or twice.  It is implied that some characters are "shacking up."

Nudity: 4/5
Two ladies are seen in short shorts briefly.  One or two female characters show some slight cleavage.  A PowerPoint slide shows a painting of a nude Adam, though no private anatomy is visible.

Language: 4.5/5
One use of "dork" is as bad as it gets.

Violence: 3.5/5
A father slaps his daughter twice, then grabs her and drops her outside.  A car accident leads to a guy being thrown up in the air, then dying a minute or two later.

Drugs: 4/5
Wine is served twice, both at someone's house and at a restaurant.

Frightening/Intense Scenes: 3/5
Along with what was mentioned under "Violence," some scenes are emotionally intense.

Other: 3/5
Some may have a problem with the non-Christian characters being vilified.

Final Score: 3.5/5
God's Not Dead is a movie that is a bit hard to score.  It's great to have a movie that is well-made and honors God, and the overused plot device of "guy believes in God, now everything works out" that has plagued many a Christian movie is not present here.  However, the direct-to-video feel may make some feel that they should have waited to rent the DVD instead of shelling out the money at the cinema.  I myself didn't feel that way, but I can see how some would.  Nonetheless, well-made Christian movies are worth supporting, because studios release what they know will make money.  For that reason alone, I'd say this is worth a look at the cinema.

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