Most Christian movies that go to theaters have a limited number of theaters that carry that film for a few days before fading out. “God’s Not Dead” on the other hand opened with a bang and doubled the number of theaters that carried the film during its second weekend! Ticket sales nearly doubled the second weekend as well! We know first-hand because our local theater did not carry the movie on its opening weekend but added it during week two. And after seeing the movie, we understand!
A Big Step in the Right Direction
PureFlix really raised the bar with this film. In fact I think it might be the best Christian film they have ever made. God’s Not Dead is solid. The production quality is first rate. The acting, dialog, and story line are also praiseworthy. It’s not a perfect film, but it does a lot right, especially for this genre. I had moderately high expectations based on word of mouth, and I was still blown away.
Let’s cut straight to what this film does right:
- Top notch production value with great camerawork and soundtrack
- Strong Christ-centered Christian themes that most believers will not take issues with
- Interweaves a number of related but seemingly independent story lines to keep the pace of the movie going without getting bogged down
- Ties those story-lines together with a central underlying theme instead of forcing an awkward collision of all the characters
- Includes numerous prominent Christian celebrities and leaders, which in addition to helping promote the film, actually ads a layer of relevance and authenticity. It is fairly accurate to current Christian youth culture in a lot of ways
- Displays some substantial and realistic character development considering the number of characters in the film and the relatively short screen time each gets
- Contrary to what many critics have said, the dialog really is fairly good when you judge it on the grounds of authenticity. People really talk like these characters talk
- Let’s you know that even though the movie is not based on a true story, many of the events are inspired by dozens of true stories, which are listed. For this, the film gets an honorary
Areas that could be improved on:
- There may be too many characters and story lines. I would like to see one or two of the sub stories cut and have more character development in the remaining ones.
- A lot of loose ends are left, not just at the end but throughout the film. At times the film’s strong momentum is the only thing that carries it forward.
- One or two loose ends are left uncomfortably loose. There are some emotionally difficult scenes within the film and you never learn if/how they are resolved.
- PureFlix could use a stronger opening display of their logo. This is a first rate film, it deserves a stronger image and branding that is on the level with its secular film peers.
God Looks at the Heart – So Should the Critics
This film is fairly polarizing when it comes to the critics. Many viewers are saying it was awesome, while many film critics are saying it was terrible. I have come to the conclusion that film critics simply do not understand Christian film. The Spirit of God does not work in a box, and His work is less on the mind and more on the heart. This movie hits the heart, and hits it strong.
The plot is centered on a college student intellectually defending the existence of God in the face of atheism, but the film is not really trying to deeply engage the intellect, it goes after the heart. And that is where critics are dropping the ball. Yes, I could present you with a bucket of intellectual plot holes if I sat back and really dug deep. But there is grace on this movie. And that grace operates independently of intellect, plot structure, and critical opinion. And if you do not understand what that grace is, then you will not understand Christian movies.
“God’s Not Dead” is a great film with a great message. I wish it was based on a true story, but even still, this Christian movie is filled with truth.
Own God’s Not Dead is also available on DVD.