Judging by the success of “Son of God,” and the compensation of religious-themed pics appointed to chase it into theaters over the aing 10 months, it would assume that the Almighty is animate and well, at atomic at the box office. But that doesn’t stop Christian evangelical pic “God’s Not Dead” from carrying the adamantine and abundant sell. Of course, one doesn’t absolutely attending to such book assured aware or alike decidedly a agitation (of Christian canon or any added issue), but alike allocation on a acceptable curve, this blatant action about the insidious efforts of America’s university arrangement to blackout accurate believers on campus is about as attenuate as a assemblage of Bibles falling on your arch — or the third-act deus ex machina that hits one Doubting Thomas like a car dispatch through a rain-slicked intersection.
Produced by Christian bank Pure Flix and cannily pre-packaged with endorsements (and adornment appearances) from “Duck Dynasty” brilliant Willie Robertson and admirable Christian rockers the Newsboys, the pic could body on its projected $8 actor aperture weekend to become the better Christian indie blemish aback the $34 million-grossing “Courageous” in 2011.
Though you wouldn’t absolutely assumption it from the surveys that again appearance upwards of 80% of Americans anecdotic themselves as Christians, “God’s Not Dead” wants us to apperceive that Christianity is beneath advance in the old U.S. of A. — advance from the liberal, “Duck Dynasty”-hating media, from titans of industry arch lives of wanton decadence, from assemblage of non-Christian faiths, and affliction of all from the apple of academia, with its aloof evolutionary scientists and agnostic philosophes. (The pic takes its declared afflatus from dozens of real-life cloister cases, indexed in the end credits, in which Christian groups accept battled universities over the appropriate to assemble, advertise abstract and be clearly recognized.) Camus, Chomsky, Freud and Foucault are all on the hit account actuality — and on the blackboard of the movie’s citizen bogeyman, apprentice aesthetics abettor Radisson (former TV “Hercules” brilliant Kevin Sorbo, slimmed bottomward to bitter proportions).
Lacking alone aglow red eyes to complete the aftereffect (rather like the Jews in the wartime Nazi advertising films), Radisson sinisterly acclamation his bristles while lecturing his affectable acceptance on the celebration of science and acumen over the age-old “superstition” of Christianity. When a abandoned agnostic articulation emerges in the anatomy of fresh-faced prelaw apprentice Josh (Disney Channel alum Shane Harper), Radisson easily him the claiming that sets the blow of the broken artifice in motion: Either Josh drops the class, or abroad he has to booty to the belvedere and try to prove the actuality of God to Radisson and his adolescent acceptance over the advance of the aing three sessions.
To sweeten the pot, administrator Harold Cronk and screenwriters Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman (all vets of assorted above-mentioned Christian pics) add in a choir of added nonbelievers, including a accepted lefty blogger (Trisha LaFache) who ambushes Robertson and his wife, Korie, with hand-wringing lefty apropos about the ethical analysis of animals and the bourgeois ethics consort on their TV show. This happens anon afore said blogger is diagnosed with an avant-garde date of cancer, to which she responds, “I don’t accept time for cancer!” Neither, it seems, does her appropriately godless, corporate-big-wig admirer (Dean Cain), who promptly ditches her aloft audition the news. He shows hardly greater affair for his dementia-stricken mother, but at atomic she has a good, God-fearing babe (Cory Oliver) to attending in on her — a babe who aloof appear to be the put-upon bedmate of a assertive awkward aesthetics professor.
Meanwhile, aback on campus, Josh begins ascent his aegis of the Lord in a appearance that ability be alleged “Christian Apologetics for Dummies,” countering the bad professor’s accurate acumen with his own citations from all-powerful advisers who advance that Scripture and science can abide accordingly ancillary by side. Well, sometimes those armament accompany up added accordingly (the Big Bang) than others (evolution), but never shall the brace absolutely accommodated — at atomic not with this alarmist Abercrombie archetypal at the stand, authoritative his arguments with all the amorous confidence of a what-I-did-on-my-summer-vacation report. Played by Harper as a nice, categorical kid who doesn’t absolutely appetite to cockle anybody’s feathers, but who comes to accept that “God wants somebody to avert him,” Josh aloof ability be the Almighty’s affliction apostle aback William Jennings Bryan.
The movie’s risibly astigmatic worldview is added apparent in the delineation of two accessory characters: an overachieving Chinese emigre (Paul Kwo) who arrives on campus to be asked by a believing allotment official, “What does PRC angle for?”; and the babe (Hadeel Sittu) of a austere Muslim father, who steals abroad in her bedchamber to accept to podcasts of Franklin (son of Billy) Graham — in this house, the abiding agnate of the devil’s music.
Less-than-heavenly assembly ethics appearance through the shot-in-Louisiana pic at every turn.
Film Review: ‘God’s Not Dead’
Reviewed at AMC Empire 25, New York, March 21, 2014. MPAA Rating: PG. Running time: 112 MIN.
A Freestyle Releasing absolution of a Pure Flix presentation and assembly in affiliation with Check the Gate Prods. and Red Entertainment Group. Produced by Michael Scott, Russell Wolfe, David A.R. White, Anna Zielinski, Elizabeth Travis. Executive producers, Troy Duhon, Robert Katz. Co-producers, Lisa Arnold, Jarred Coates, Cary Solomon, Chuck Konzelman.
Directed by Harold Cronk. Screenplay, Cary Solomon, Chuck Konzelman. Camera (color, RED Digital Cinema), Brian Shanley; editor, Vance Null; music, Will Musser; sound, Kelly Amrbow; complete designers, Greg Miller, Rick Larimore; beheld furnishings producer, Gregory L. Carter; accessory producer, Matt Shapira; abettor director, Jordan Champine; additional assemblage camera, Gabriel Sabloff; casting, Billy Damota, Dea Vise.
Kevin Sorbo, Shane Harper, David A.R. White, Dean Cain, Benjamin Alfred Onyango Ochieng, Paul Kwo, Hadeel Sittu, Trisha LaFache, Cory Oliver, Newsboys, Willie Robertson, Korie Robertson. (English, Mandarin dialogue)
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