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God’s Not Dead 2—A movie review

So-so sequel is slightly satisfying

Gods-not-dead2

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Published: 23 April 2016 (GMT+10)

After the overwhelming success of the 2014 Christian film God’s Not Dead (which made over 60 million dollars (US) at the box office on a reported production budget of 2 million), it wasn’t a surprise that the Christian production company Pure Flix would produce a sequel; God’s Not Dead 2.

Caveats

The quality of movies, like all art forms, are subject to interpretation because of personal preferences each person has. This review will offer a brief synopsis, some personal production analysis and commentary on the content of the apologetics presented in the film which is the main focus of a ministry like CMI.

Every individual’s taste and predilections vary and can colour their opinions regarding the over-all quality (storytelling, acting, production value) of a movie. One also has to consider a film’s budget and other resources (in comparison to typical Hollywood fare where 100+ million dollar budgets, state of the art equipment and top tier talent are common) when rating a film. I thought it was better than the first movie, and did have a few minor celebrities. (Caution-spoilers ahead).

The plot

Using the similar premise of the first film (Christian persecution in public life), this film centres around a high school history teacher named Grace, who becomes the target of school authorities after quoting Scripture in a classroom setting in response to a student’s question about Jesus.

When confronted and asked to apologize, Grace refuses. This opens her up to a lawsuit where she could be fired and lose her teaching credentials if found guilty, a precedent-setting opportunity for the gleeful ACLU lawyer who plans on making an example of her.

Similar to the first film, there are several subplots regarding faith explored throughout that are all somewhat interconnected, and moments during the movie where it seems like a blatant advertisement for the Australian-founded band Newsboys is occurring rather than a story is being told.

The apologetics

A good portion of the film’s drama involves the courtroom battle between Grace’s young inexperienced lawyer, Tom, vs. the ACLU’s hard-nosed veteran. Tom’s main strategy becomes proving to the jury that Jesus was an actual historical figure, thus justifying Grace’s quoting of Jesus in a history class. In reality, all a lawyer would probably have to prove is that Grace’s statement could not be taken by a reasonable person to be intending to proselytize.

Tom (somehow) enlists witnesses Lee Strobel (former journalist and author of The Case for Christ and The Case for a Creator) and J. Warner Wallace (former homicide detective and author of Cold-case Christianity) to testify as to the historicity of Jesus.

Given each one’s expertise and the fact that they were both non-believers when they began their investigation into the life of Christ, they each present powerful (seemingly unbiased) evidence as to the historical fact of the man Jesus of Nazareth as having existed (in extremely improbable, lengthy expositions for a courtroom) and to the accuracy of Scripture.

In contrast to the first movie, this presents intellectually solid (although extremely limited) apologetic evidence for the Christian faith (as described above). Unfortunately, rather than this being the decisive factor in the case, it is an exceedingly unrealistic emotional rant from Tom that sways the jury in Grace’s favour in the end.

Summary

This movie highlights the very real culture war being waged against the Christian faith in the western world, but like the original, often does so in an idealistic, ‘heavy-handed’ manner. Good points like the false argument of the ‘separation between church and state’ are pointed out, and evidence presented from professionals showing cogent intellectual arguments are commendable. However, triumph being the result of a ‘hail-Mary’ speech designed to tug on the heart strings of the jury rather than a reasoned defense made the victory fall flat for me.

This movie had some of the weaknesses of its predecessor, such as some stereotypical, flat characters who were not entirely believable as real people. There were also several religious conversations with the pastor character (the same one from the first movie), and a conversion. These seemed more authentic than in the first movie. Also, some characters, while experiencing a shift in their thinking about Christianity, stopped short of actual conversion, which seems more believable, because many people don’t convert right away.

That all being said, movies like this may well cause more believers to ‘wake up’ to the real life cases similar to that being portrayed in the movie (some that are listed at the end credits of the film) that are slowly removing freedoms that Christians once enjoyed.

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Readers’ comments
Jon C., United States, 27 April 2016

This was an excellent film, which will probably be another hit for Pure Flix. Tom's emotional appeal might have been a bit heavy but necessary, considering the oblivious public to a serious, growing societal problem of persecution against Christians who are committed to their faith. It seems every other religious group can exercise their rights but Christians cannot. Either we cater to the demands of a secular society or face lawsuits, even imprisonment.

I get the impression most people don't realize how strident and vindictive non-Christians have become to Christians. My friends Mark Armitage and Dave Coppedge have lost their jobs because of the intense hatred the evolutionary establishment exercises, as though it's okay to do this to Christians.

Michael I., United States, 26 April 2016

Isn't it sad though, considering people are more likely to respond to emotionally driven "rant" than the facts? Not just in a movie but here now everyday. People seem more likely to respond to the one shouting, whether negatively or positively, than to the person that remains calm and sticks to the evidence. As for the movie, I've not seen it yet but I intend to. God bless!

Larry D., United States, 25 April 2016

I tend to look mostly at what message is in a Christian movie. This one was excellent and extremely relevant. But this one, as is progressively happening, had very good production, a few surprises and I like that after the movie but before the credits, it lists in two columns, similar but real life cases with names and what states.

Joanne B., Canada, 24 April 2016

I really liked God's Not Dead 2. It was great to be able to go to a movie where there was no profanity; no sex; no bang, bang, shoot 'em up, blood & gore; no zombies or aliens; no putting down of Christian beliefs - where one could hear the name of the Lord praised and Christian principles upheld. The plot was good, the characters believable and the situations they were in totally relevant.The research given by Strobel & Wallace as well as the origin of the phrase "separation of church and state" was educational. As well the concert by the Newsboys was uplifting and I left the theater being encouraged and singing "He's living on the inside, roaring like a lion, God's not dead, He's surely alive."

I've seen it twice in the theater and will buy the dvd. Looking forward to the 3rd of this trilogy.

Hugh O., United States, 23 April 2016

I loved God's not Dead and use it as an example many times in teaching Sunday School high school age boys. Having said that I believe God's not Dead 2 is even better. It has more real life applications and is also something we can see in unfolding everyday life in courts and Congress. Keep up the great work and may God bless your efforts, revealing it doesn't cost 100 million dollars to produce a quality movie when God is on your side.

Jane S., Canada, 23 April 2016

I really enjoyed this movie. I found Grace and her family believable. I wept with her...and Martin i wept with him as well when his father come to take him home. I probably liked this one even more. The Pastor and his visiting friend are good too. And the ending (after the movie) makes you want to see more.... good movies looking forward to more... as for the News Boys...they are a nice touch with their music!!!!

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