Thursday, September 25, 2014

God's Not Dead

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! God's not dead, he's resting.  Beautiful plumage.





God’s Not Dead – 0 out of 5

Loyal readers are probably wondering what the deal is with this sudden influx of religious films I’m viewing. With Noah and now God’s Not Dead, some of you might be worried that the good old ordained reverend and atheist Rev. Ron has found Jesus but that’s not true—it’s only two movies for crying out loud. Like bad B-movie horror films, Christian propaganda films can be some of the best comedy out there because it comes off like satire but the production is 100% serious and God’s Not Dead proved to be some of the funniest shit I’ve seen from the Christian movie industry ever.
 
The director didn't want to be too obvious so he refrained from putting up the
Equality bumper sticker and a Darwin fish.
 

"Why can't this stupid professor see that I am right because
of the circumstances of my birth and the way my parents
raised me."
When young devotee Josh Wheaton (played by Shane Harper and sounds too close to Joss Whedon for my comfort) heads to college, he is horrified to learn that his philosophy professor, the evil atheist Professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo), wants his class to sign a sheet of paper declaring that "God is Dead." Josh won’t stand for that bull-poopy because he said God is telling him to stand up for Himself and decides that he will defend God against the vile heathen (conveniently ignoring that he is clearly hearing voices in his head). The Professor says that if he can’t convince Josh’s classmates that God is, in fact, not dead, then he will fail him. So, Josh goes into overtime and spends the semester working on his arguments, even though it is alienating him from those around him—gee, it’s like he’s being tested or something. Meanwhile, several short storylines are randomly inserted around this that show an evil liberal vegan pro-evolutionist blogger trying to take down Willie Robertson from Duck Dynasty, a poor Muslim girl trying to convert to Christianity and get away from her mean daddy who is mean because he’s Muslim, and the hardships Professor Radisson’s girlfriend must deal with because she believes in Christ’s love.
 
"Yes, obey me puppets.  After I make you atheists, I will have you all get gay marriages,
and then we'll help Obama takes everybody's guns! Bwaa-ha-ha!"
 

God’s Not Dead is basically those Facebook posts that your right-wing Aunt shares that states that colleges are where kids are indoctrinated to be atheists (we’ve all seen that post where a marine punches out the professor who claims there’s no God because the marine is doing what God didn’t have time for—which is assault people, apparently, and prove that your religion is a tolerant one by, say, knocking the teeth out of those who don’t believe). Well, that paranoia, fear, and hatred of higher learning that permeates with Facebook Christians comes to life in this film and what follows is a movie that is so ridiculous that it’s almost satire against Christianity and so poorly written that it looks more like it was produced by people who are insecure about their own faith rather than trying to endorse the church.
 
"Can we hurry this up, I have babies to eat."

The propaganda of the film clearly takes precedent to such a point that the very integrity of making a somewhat cohesive film is sacrificed. The several stories barely connect except for saying "God is totes awesome" and having all the characters show up at a Christian Rock concert where they all collectively ignore that they are listening to terrible music and pretend that they are enjoying themselves (like this film, admitting that you don’t like Christian Rock is the equivalent of being an evil atheist and saying you don’t believe in God or one of those horrible agnostics who believe but won’t commit to Christianity). The side stories really have no connection to Josh’s battle other than a playground for the non-Christians to get over their stupid selves and just accept Christ.
 
And cue the shitty Christian Rock!
 
 
"Ha!  I'm the funny one in the group...funny, for Jesus.  Praise him!"
 
"Yay!  This music is horrible but we can't admit it because we fear it will offend our
God.  We act the same way with our movies!"

"And now I shall stand like Mr. Burns to show that I am
right, you are wrong, and I am the real good guy!"
The writing in God’s Not Dead is so insultingly bad that it actually makes toddler cartoons on Nick Jr. look wildly complex and intricate. Every single character is a cardboard cutout with only one—maybe two—defining characteristics.  For example, all atheists are wicked people who secretly believe but are just angry at God. Christians, on the other hand, are just good people who atheists are just out to spit bile at. Muslims are violent and angry who, like atheists, secretly want to be Christians, and, finally, all college kids are stupid and easily lead. 
 
"We're dumb and incapable of independent thought, show us what to believe!"
 
 
No character in the film has any depth to them; they are all these simple constructs. However, these simple constructs make all the characters—not just the atheists—come off like assholes. Josh, the supposed hero of the film, comes off just as bad as his professor. Both men look smug and think they are smarter than the other. Neither looks good during their final debate and it only gets more unbearable when the debate breaks down into a shouting match. Yes, the film’s climax, which was suppose to be the ultimate reveal that God isn’t dead and atheists are stupid fat heads who are wrong wrong wrong, boils down to childish antics and who can yell louder and will have the final word. It was like a Twitter/Facebook religious debate come to life…just without the name calling.
 
"Well, maybe I should kill you so that you can meet God yourself*."

*A Christian actually once said that to me when I revealed I was an atheist.
 

The most amusing part about this film is the fact it is clearly not grounded in any kind of reality and only exists in the imagination of a very insecure and angry writer. Sure, pretty much all movies are products of an imagination but this movie is so hard to take seriously and my suspension of disbelief so impossible to achieve that Man of Steel, Iron Man, Blade Runner, Back to the Future, and the entire Twilight series comes off more realistic than anything that happens in this film.  Fuck, every film in all of existence is easier to believe that the events held within could actually happen than anything that takes place in this film.  If this movie is a representation of real life, then I feel robbed because I went to college and my professors only taught me about the stuff that the class was about and never tried to push atheism on me. I, stupidly, had to come to my own atheistic believes through introspection and self-discovery.
 
"I hate you so much for not sharing the same views that I do!"
 

Man, his atheist ways makes him so evil that even the lighting
in the room responds to him.
The overly simplistic views this movie takes is insulting to both filmmaking and to any sort of religious discussion. Nothing in life is as simplistic as God’s Not Dead will make you believe. No, college professors are not out to make colleges atheist-making machines, no believers personal connection with God isn’t as one-dimensional as the film will make it look (hopefully), and, no, not everyone out there is harboring a secret desire to be one with Christ. In the end, this film is just offensive. Offensive that the people who made it thought that it was sending a good message and offensive that they thought it could possibly be entertaining.
 
Wait...Kevin Sorbo, Dean Cain and one of those Duck Dynasty guys?  This movie has
serious star power--ha, ha...oh, it was hard to finish that sentence with a straight face.
 

Noah, another religious film I viewed recently, took the concept of faith and made it something meaningful. There was respect and reverence in Darren Aronofsky’s film about the fictional flood. The themes of sin, redemption, hope, and love were dynamically and beautifully presented. God’s Not Dead is a mean-spirited cartoon with no subtlety whatsoever trying to disguise itself as beauty, love, hope, and respect. How was it mean-spirited? Well, (and fuck your spoilers here), both atheists in the film are converted to Christianity due to the lingering threat of death: One gets cancer and another is hit by a car. The film makes the assumption that atheists are not fine with their viewpoints but just need that push to find God…and sometimes that push comes from attempted vehicular manslaughter. 
 
You probably already guessed it.  It was the evil atheist professor who was hit by a car.
 






"Dear Jesus, thank you so much for giving this heathen
atheist cancer so she could finally see your
love and grace."
When the atheist in question is hit by a car, a nearby preacher makes a single statement about calling 9-1-1 before immediately telling the victim he is about to die (even though there is pretty much no blood or any indication of trauma) and that he should find God like totes quick. The preacher is not a doctor and really had no point to make such an assumption about a possible death. He should have been comforting the man and seeking help rather than worrying about upping the followers on God’s holy Twitter account. Then, after the man accepts Christ and dies, a missionary with the preacher talks about how great it is that they converted him—a man just died and you’re happy because he thinks the same way you do?!? 




"Hey, that guy was hit by a car...let's convert his ass by not
calling for emergency services and telling him he's going to die.
We're such good people!"
 

The moral system in this movie is royally fucked up.  These two say, fuck getting this accident victim physical help, let’s just usher him into the unknown with a promise that an eternity of happiness awaits him—a claim based entirely on a book that includes a lot of racism and incest—and then rejoice in his death.  Then, to make matters worse and make us look selfish but trying to convince the audience that we are being benevolent, let's clearly showcase our apathetic feelings and not even bother getting him to a hospital or calling 9-1-1 ourselves even though it will be established in the next scene that we both had cell phones on us the whole time.  I fully realize the entire production thinks they made something that makes Christians look charitable and metaphoric saviors of their fellow human beings but the end result is just two self-absorbed and superstitious people who are more worried about hive-mind thinking than they were about providing care and need to their fellow man...I don't know Jesus but I'm pretty sure He would have called 9-1-1 rather than worrying if the man dying at his feet was a man of faith or not.
 
Oh no, that small abrasion on your cheek means you're going to die!
 

I would make a joke about Dean Cain calling his agent in order to
get him out of this movie but we all know he wanted this part.
In the end, God’s Not Dead is just a poorly made piece of propaganda that does everything it can to make atheists look bad and, in the process, make Christians look like petty, whiny people. This isn’t a loving representation of a person expressing their faith and being persecuted along the way. The film is a representation of the victim mentality that Christians are loving so much right now. It is all the Fox News viewers crying about there being a war on Christmas (it’s September as I write this, so those arguments will start in a few days when the three month long holiday begins), it’s all the right wing nutcases who never shut up about "Under God" in the pledge, it’s all the people who claim Bibles aren’t allowed in schools and demand prayer before every class, it’s all the insecure people who think that because this country won’t mandate that Christianity be our official religion they start to cry that they are persecuted. Fuck, this movie was transparent in its presentation and obvious in hitting all its redundant and recycled messages that I was hoping there would have been a moment explaining how homosexuality is a sin…if that would have happened I would have won Christian Movie Bingo.

3 comments:

  1. I had a feeling this movie would suck. 99% of the "Christian" films out there are so over-the-top unrealistic. Nobody talks like that or lives like that - it's the imaginary utopia ultra-right-wing Christians think things should be. Everything is very black and white, no shades of grey.
    But the main reason I thought this movie would be awful... the whole thing is based on a song title: Newsboys "God's Not Dead". That's like building a movie off of a board game like Battleship thinking it will be awesome. And we know how that turned out.
    Let's just hope they never come out with "Jesus Take The Wheel: The Motion Picture".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Uh oh...I just sold my "Jesus Take The Wheel" script...Nicolas Cage is attached to play Jesus.

      Delete
    2. LOL! He already appeared in another version of Left Behind so maybe, just maybe, he can wreck his career further.

      Delete

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