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21st Century’s Worst Failures – God’s Not Dead (2014)

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God’s Not Dead is an inane mess – simply 108 minutes of brain-dead, ham-fisted Christian propaganda.

So this ‘film’ , as it turns out, can barely even be classified as a film. Apparently, God’s Not Dead is a barrage of stupidity condensed into several different plot points, none of which have any connection nor flow with each other. You’re essentially just watching several short films, only with clips intermingled together. Think The Room (2003), only less funny, less ironic, and duller in every possible aspect.

After sifting through these intermingled short films, allow me to list to you all of the plots (notice: I cannot use the word ‘subplots’ because in doing so, I would imply that these plot points would actually have some sort of connection).

a) College freshman Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper) is dedicated Christian who enters a philosophy class taught by an atheist, Professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo), who forces the students to sign their acknowledgement in the non-existence of God. Josh refuses, and thus is forced to prove the reality of God in 3 20-minute intervals of class.

b) Aforementioned atheist Radisson dates a Christian (just one of many examples of the film’s staggering stupidity), treats her terribly due to her faith, the gets dumped.

c) Radisson’s girlfriend and eventual ex-girlfriend, Mina (Cory Oliver) has a mother suffering from dementia, as well as a brother, Mark, who refuses to visit the mother.

d) Left-wing blogger Amy, who is criticizing some famous duck hunter, is diagnosed with cancer and is dumped by her boyfriend, the aforementioned Mark, who is also a successful businessman, and thus, treat his relationship with Amy as another business deal.

e) Some Chinese student comes into philosophy class and is inspired to become Christian after watching Josh debate Radisson.

f) A Muslim girl decides to renounce her religion and convert to Christianity, and is beaten by her Muslim father.

g) The pastor of the local church tries to buy a car.

The last plot is particularly stupid; not only is buying a car just an everyday occurrence, but it’s completely pointless as well. The pastor contributes almost nothing to the plot, nobody cares about whether he receives his car or not, and ultimately, the time that the film takes to show us the pastor buying his car could have been used to actually develop a better plot and flesh out characters.

You’d think that with seven different plots, this movie must be 3-4 hours long right? Wrong. This film makes absolutely no effort to establish characters or convey a sense of character conflict or, as the genre might suggest, drama. The plot never builds up, nor is there any tension whatsoever. And ultimately, the reason for that is glaringly obvious: the plot is monotonous and flat. You never see any dramatic twists or anything unexpected; what you expect is exactly what you get, nothing more, nothing less. In this respect, you really are not watching a movie, but just a sequence of events that unfold in the most boring and insipid way possible. However, it’s not just the plot that’s bland. It really is everything with this movie – the soundtrack is nothing but a mix of uninspired Christian rock songs, the cinematography bears nothing special nor unique, the set design is not eye-catching in the slightest… in the end, there’s no creativity.

Films should make the audience feel something relatable, or special. This film at least achieves half of that: God’s Not Dead, is absolutely infurating. This movie is a propaganda piece for Christianity, but how? This film has this outrageous habit of portraying all atheists – or really all non-Christians – as every type of disgusting human filth imaginable – Professor Radisson has a dark past in which he begged God to save his mother from cancer (it didn’t work) and now, he’s threatening to fail Josh; the Muslim father is loud, fat, and abusive; Mark the business man is an atheist, and thus, is portrayed as insensitive and deceitful. Now as for the Christians, life is perfect – Josh has a beautiful girlfriend and is in a state of constant – and insipidly portrayed – happiness; the pastor is shown to be this kind, benign man. So rather than having a possibly intriguing plot wherein the audience can see both sides of the argument and think deeply of the inner workings of both Christianity and Atheism, the film instead chooses to just demonise all atheists – it’s despicable. Ironically, this plan actually backfires – they write Josh and the other Christians as infuriatingly perfect – so much so I found myself siding with Radisson due to my absolute contempt for the portrayal of the main character. In this sense, the film succeeds in the polar opposite of what it is trying to achieve. This is also furthered by Kevin Sorbo’s solid performance as Radisson. Undoubtedly, Sorbo is the only saving grace in this movie, and as his character is so cartoonishly demonised that he is by far the most entertaining aspect. It really does say something about the lack of talent and effort that went into this Christian propaganda if the audience ends up on the side of the atheists.

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Another similarity that this film bears with The Room: none of the plots are ever really concluded. But then again, no one is ever going to give the slightest care in the world what happens to any of these people – which, amusingly, is another similarity with The Room. Let that symbolise the film’s degree of intelligence.

 

 

Patrick Yu
My name is Patrick and I have always been a huge fan of movies. Inspired by my parents and friends alike, I have taken up the hobby of reviewing movies, sharing my thoughts on it. Later, I began reviewing TV shows, as i also had thoughts about those as well. I am quite passionate about writing and journalism as well.