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God's Not Dead (2014)

This was one of those movies recommended by more than one family member and for whatever reason I never made the trek to the theater to see it. When it finally came out, I got it as a gift for one of those said family member’s, and a copy managed to make it into the cart for our family, too – seemed a good idea despite my shaky opinions on certain Christian films. How does this one shake out?

Incoming college freshman, Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper) has no expectations his philosophy class is about to be the biggest challenge to his faith yet. His girlfriend has plans for them – Josh is going to law school and their six year romance is going to turn into “forever” at some point in her timeline. Much to the dismay of Kara (Cassidy Griffin), Josh accepts a debate proposal from his atheist teacher, Professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo) to take up the challenge that God is NOT dead – something his professor believes, proof positive when he requests his glad to write out, “God is dead.” When Josh stands against this request, Radisson is none too thrilled to be argued against. 

In his quest to prove God does live and to convince a “jury” of his own peers that Professor Radisson’s claim is false, the lives of Amy Ryan (Trisha LaFache), Mina and Marc Shelley (Cory Oliver, Dean Cain), Ayisha (Hadeel Sittu) Pastor Dave (David A.R. White) and Martin (Paul Kwo) intersect leading to a powerful closing argument – and a revolution of awakened belief among many.
While I can respect their messages and the journey they’re taking to bridge the gap between Christianity and entertainment, too many Christian films just fall flat for me – I’ve bought one too many that turned out to be a disappointment and are now serving no greater purpose than gathering dust. Perhaps that’s why I'm a little bit shy to go ahead and openly support some of these films. This movie falls among those that lived up to expectations. Anyone who has seen To Save a Life will thoroughly enjoy this and it’s not beyond hoping that God’s Not Dead reached the target ages it desperately wanted to: the college crowd.

There are some flaws in the movie, but its message is what needs to be heard and I don’t think the distractions detract from that. There are a ton of characters introduced in a short span of time and most of them have no relevant connection to each other (far as the audience is concerned), though midway through, ties are made and we understand more of these character’s purpose to the story. Short on character development – understandable since the script had a greater point, what this zooms in on is the idea of God’s existence and whether or not that can be proven. For Josh, that was an impossible task to prove, yet easy to believe and he stuck up for his faith without letting let intimidation (from teachers and family) or fear shake what it was he believed in – or Who it was he championed.

For the most part, the acting is good. Shane does an admirable job in the role of Josh and the supporting cast is equally compelling to their roles. There are some particularly moving scenes with some of the secondary characters and how they react to the things that go wrong in their lives – one of which is a woman who has never had need of God. Each of the three lectures in which Josh debates his professor are well written and make valid points, but it’s really the ending that changes hearts – and the ending to the entire script is something I didn’t seem coming. The writers were going for something drastic and impacting, and while I don’t have a problem with it, the movie will leave viewers with a sense of melancholy because of that.

If you’ve not seen this and you like films that challenge normal plus take up the task of shining a light on Christianity, do watch God’s Not Dead. I’m not sure it will be something I’ll watch over and over again, but I’m not in the least bit sorry to have seen it – and no matter if the artistic delivery doesn’t carry the same impact it could, it features a hero who isn’t afraid to stand alone for all he believes in. That message alone is one that needs to be shared – and for many of us, needs to be realized in our own lives.

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  1. We've liked Shane Harper since he played Spencer on Good Luck Charlie! God's Not Dead is a good movie! One that everyone I know who has seen it has enjoyed it and told every one of their family and friends to go see it!

    Enjoy your weekend!

    1. That's awesome, Shannon! I love that so many people have seen this and seem willing to give it a try anyway - the message is one all of us need to hear. :)

      Same to you - happy weekend. Glad it's here.

  2. I feel the same! :) The message is well conveyed, and THE ENDING, I so didn't see that coming. I agree that I won't watch it a bunch of times, but I'm glad I did. I even cried a couple of times. :)

    1. It is indeed (which is awesome since it's one we all need to hear) and YES. Oh, my goodness. I did not see that coming so I was watching it expecting it to wrap up any minute and then... wow. Quite an impacting way to conclude, I'd say. Glad you liked it as well - I'm sure I'll see it again, just not as a "binge-watch." Thanks for visiting, Rachel. :)

  3. I really enjoyed watching this movie. I want to re-watch it soon:)

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Ella. I did too, it's just not one I'll probably watch TONS just because when I watch a movie, most times I like a more lighthearted approach. That being said, I did think "God's Not Dead" was very well done and it's certainly something I'd loan/recommended to fellow movie watchers. :)

  4. I really enjoyed the movie. The acting was pretty good, sans a few cheesy parts. However, I really thought the ending was great! It may have also appealed to my Newboys ;fangirling days;. Ha! ;)

    1. Well said, Heather. I agree; I thought everything was nicely done and for the most part, yes, the acting was great - especially from the leading two men. The ending WAS great, certainly made its point, it was just... unexpected.

      How fun! Newsboys weren't a band I listened to a lot, but I did enjoy how they were brought into the film and the titular song was fantastic. :)

  5. Replies
    1. You most definitely do, Juju. Enjoy whenever you see it. :)

  6. I was actually going to watch this tonight but decided on Amazing Spider-Man 2 instead... haha. I am a little wary of christian films as well but I definitely want to check this one out. Great review, Rissi! Oh, and by the way I am loving the changes to your website!! It looks awesome!

    1. I don't blame you, Bekah... because Spider-Man 2 has to be awesome. I still have to watch that one but it's sitting with my other DVD's, so I'll have to get to it this weekend. Cannot wait. As for God's Not Dead, I hope you enjoy it. It's really a good (at least) one time watch. :)

      ...thanks! I'm still not 100% on this layout since the demo looked different than how it turned out, but I'll play with it for a while and at least it's operational - and if I need to go back to the oldie, I have that saved. :)

  7. I really enjoyed this movie when I saw it last week - it was very inspirational for my whole family and it had a very unexpected ending!

    1. Ditto. That ending, Kara... oh my word. I was not expecting that. Glad you enjoyed the movie - I did too. :)


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