A couple years ago, we got a lot of backlash after posting a negative review of God's Not Dead. This weekend saw the release of God's Not Dead 2, and with it comes our review! Was it everything we hope it would be, or was it another swing and a miss? Watch our review to find out!
A couple of years ago, something incredible happened. When Pureflix Entertainment released God's Not Dead into theaters, it could have been just another small Christian movie that quickly appeared and then disappeared in theaters around the country. It could have been another quick Christian movie that was in theaters over the weekend and then gone the next. But something happened. Something about this movie, whether it was the story, the marketing, or even the film itself impacted people. Those who saw it the first weekend talked about it with their friends, and texted everyone they knew those three simple words "God's Not Dead". And before anyone knew it, God's Not Dead had become a seriously big success. More and more people began to see this movie and as more people saw it, more people told their friends. And in turn more people saw it. In the end, the result was one of the biggest word-of-mouth marketing campaigns in the Christian film industry.
This film did very well at the box-office, and because of its success, PureFlix Entertainment made the logical move to begin work on the sequel. And that's why today we're taking a look at the sequel releasing in theaters today - God's Not Dead 2.
I have to admit up front that when the original God's Not Dead movie came out a couple of years ago, I was behind and didn't get to see the movie until several months later. By the time I was finally able to watch the film, I had heard a lot of overwhelmingly positive reviews of the film, about how it was going to change the industry, and how it gave Christians a positive message to help them stand up for their faith. I was excited to watch the film.
And then I watched it.
And then I reviewed it.
And I told the truth.
I did not like God's Not Dead. I didn't think it was well-written, I didn't think it was well-acted, and I didn't even think it was well produced. The storyline was weak, there were too many characters that all tried to be the main character, and it didn't flow smoothly as a movie. I appreciate what this movie tried to accomplish and I love the idea of Christians standing up for their faith. But I didn't find God's Not Dead to be a successful or well-done film.
However, when reviewing the original God's Not Dead, it's worth noting that the film had a small budget and was from a relatively small production company. So, these things have to be allowed for in small independent films. That's why I had hope for a sequel. God's Not Dead managed to do very well at the box office and generated an ample amount of revenue that I hoped would transfer over to the sequel. God's Not Dead made back its budget 30 times over, and so I had high hopes that they would be able to improve upon their last film in the sequel with a bigger budget and better direction.
And in a lot of ways, God's Not Dead 2 has improved monumentally over its predecessor. I found the acting and production to be much more solid in this film. I enjoyed some of the cinematography, and Melissa Joan Hart and Ray Wise deliver incredible performances in their roles. While some awkward product placements still remain, it's obvious that a lot more care went into each shot of this movie as compared to the first producton. The studio has said that this film has a significantly larger budget than the previous movie and it really shows here.
You can also tell how they attempted to tighten up the story in a lot of ways. While the first film had 5 or 6 storylines all occuring at once with occasional intersections, God's Not Dead 2 attempts to trim off a lot of the unneeded excess. The film keeps a much more linear pace, which results in a smoother viewing experience while also allowing for each story to have more time and development. I appreciated this change, as I felt the vast amount of characters and story arcs was a hindrance not only in God's Not Dead, but in Pureflix's other recent film, Do You Believe?
However, despite improved production, some of God's Not Dead's core flaws remain in the sequel. I really appreciated how much they attempted to improve over the original film, but some of its key concepts simply don't work. The idea behind God's Not Dead 2 is to show examples of religious persecution in America and how we can stand up and fight back against these invasions of our freedom. The movie wants to appeal to Christians and get them motivated to stand up for what they believe in, which is great. However, the way they show this is by creating exaggerated stories and completely blowing them out of proportion. The way events play out seem rather unrealistic and overdramatic. A simple case of a teacher speaking about Jesus in a classroom suddenly morphs into a case of proving once and for all that God is dead.
The worst offense in the movie, in my opinion, is their portrayal of atheists. When I went to an early screener of this film a couple of months ago, the event coordinators talked about what a great ministry tool this would be -- how you could take your atheist friend to this film and communicate the gospel message to them through the film. However, the way atheists are portrayed in this film is honestly downright offensive. We as Christians have been called to reach out to non-believers and teach them about the gospel in a loving manner. The thing we need to remember is they're not our enemy; they're lost people in need of Jesus. But, with the exception of one character, non-believers are portrayed in this film as angry, sniveling, antagonists. These people are set up in the movie to be the characters you "love to hate", and that's exactly the opposite of the attitude we should have toward unbelievers.
So while this movie is marketed as a ministry or outreach tool, I would be scared to take my unbelieving friend to this movie for fear that they would be offended by the horrific antagonistic caricatures of the non-believers. And this, I feel, is God's Not Dead 2's greatest flaw. It attempts a two-fold purpose: to appeal to Christians who want to stand up for their faith, and to be an outreach tool to those who may have never even considered faith. And because of its split purpose, it misses the mark on both counts.
God's Not Dead 2 has a lot to like about it. I really enjoyed some of the third-act courtroom scenes as they hearkened back to dramatic courtroom dramas like Inherit the Wind or old Perry Mason episodes. It has a streamlined story and some terrific actors in lead roles. But because of its exaggerated story with an obvious agenda and failure to properly represent atheists and non-believers, it fails to hold up as a ministry tool or even as a solid Christian movie.
I really wanted to like this movie, and I know we're going to receive a lot of backlash over this mostly negative review. But I can't give this movie a pass solely on account of its popularity or ability to do well at the box office. I appreciate PureFlix Entertainment and their desire to continue perfecting their craft. I can obviously see they made a lot of improvements in this movie over the original, and I sincerely hope they can continue to do this with each new release.
Anyway, those are our thoughts on God's Not Dead 2, playing in theaters now. Now we'd like to know what you think. Have you seen this movie or are you planning on seeing it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below - we'd love to hear from you! And if you liked this video and would like to see more, you can subscribe to stay up to date on all of our latest videos. And finally, if you'd like to be informed about all the latest Christian film news, you can visit our website at www.ChristianFilmCentral.com.
What did you think about this movie? Let us know in the comments below!
On this month's Christian Film Central video, we take a look at an excellent new Christian movie that released in theaters a couple weeks ago, Risen! See what we thought of this exciting new Biblical drama! And let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
If you're interested in pre-ordering this movie, you can find a great deal over on our sponsor's website http://fishflix.com.
Disclaimer: Fishflix.com is our sponsored recommendation for Christian movies, but this sponsorship in no way affects our review of Sony Pictures and Affirm Films' Risen movie.
It's the moment you've all been waiting for - we count down the top 5 Christian films of 2015, along with a few honorable mentions. If you're looking for a list of the best Christian films of 2015, this is the list for you! What were your favorite movies from last year? Let us know in the comments below!
Here are 3 Christian movies you should watch with your family this Christmas season! What other Christmas movies do you like to watch this time of year? Let us know in the comments below -- and have a Merry Christmas!
Now that the weather is starting to cool off, it's a perfect time to stay inside and catch up on the latest Christian movies. Here are 5 MUST-SEE Christian movies coming this winter! Which ones are you planning on watching?
What other films might we have missed? Let us know in the comments below! And you can find more videos like this over on our Youtube Channel!
Ever since Netflix became a major success, Christians have been looking for a positive and family-friendly Christian movie streaming service. We take a look at two of the biggest contenders, PureFlix and The Dove Channel and tell you everything you need to know about both services! We'll finally answer the question: what is the best Christian Netflix alternative?
Have you used either of these services? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
We take a look at the newest film from the Kendrick Brothers, War Room!
This week, War Room, possibly the biggest Christian movie of the year, released in theaters around the country. This is the first film to come from the Kendrick brothers since Courageous back in August of 2011, and needless to say there has been a lot of anticipation leading up to the release of this film.
The Kendrick brothers have always been a big name in the Christian movie industry, and their movies Facing the Giants and Fireproof is what originally inspired us to start Christian Film Central. Their last film, Courageous is in our opinion the quintessential Christian movie. It has everything you need for a good movie, spiritual themes, elements of genuine humor, and also raw moments of serious emotion.
So how does War Room compare to their previous films? How does it stand on its own as a Christian movie?
Well to state it simply, War Room is a fantastic movie, and I enjoyed it a lot. It was powerful and convicting about the necessity of prayer in the home. I would probably even go so far as to say that War Room has the most powerful ending scene of any Kendrick Brothers film. When the credits rolled, we felt satisfied and the general mood was positive. There was even some discussion in the room that this movie needed to be seen by every Christian family in America.
The subject of prayer is an important topic to cover, and the filmmakers did an incredible job of showing the power and effectiveness of prayer in the home. Prayer should be an essential part of the home, as it brings the family together and unites them over a common bond. When we begin to remove prayer in the household, we begin to lose the focus of who is really in control of our family. This movie is a wonderful reminder of just how essential prayer is for the health and stability of the family.
So, in short, we loved this movie. However, we do have a few issues with War Room, especially in comparison with their previous films. The Kendrick Brothers have always been known for their special brand of humor that they inject into all of their films. For instance, we all remember the infamous “Snake Kings” scene from Courageous.
However, what little humor there was in War Room honestly fell flat, and I wouldn’t say there was one comedic scene in the film that really stuck with me afterwards. Rather than Sherwood Pictures, War Room was released through Sony’s Affirm Films, which led to some jarring Sony product placements throughout the film. I understand this is how the film industry works, and they do have to make money to make it a successful film, but I felt it took the focus off important story details at certain parts in the movie.
The production quality is top-notch, as we’ve come to expect from Christian movies nowadays, and with each movie the Kendrick Brothers always seem to take it up a notch visually. The story was powerful and moving, though we did feel the pacing was odd in a few key sections.
Overall, War Room was a fantastic film, and I can’t convey enough how powerful and moving the story was. The only reason we may be nitpicking a little is because this is the Kendrick Brothers. They’re basically the Pixar of the Christian film industry, always delivering the best and always working to perfect their craft. While War Room was an enjoyable film and definitely one of the best films to be released in 2015, it still seemed like a small step back from Courageous.
What is encouraging is the box office results for this weekend. War Room came in 2nd place for this weekend’s box office totals, and this includes other big name secular films. This goes to show that we as Christians do have a voice in what kind of media is produced. When people see that 2nd place at the box office this weekend was a low-budget Christian movie, they begin to realize that there is an audience for family-friendly films. It’s easy for us to complain about the moral decay in Hollywood and in media. But what we need to do, rather than criticize the bad is support the good. If we support what is moral and upright in the media world, we can make a difference in our culture.
All this is to say, go see War Room. Support this movie. We can highly recommend it as one of the best, if not the best Christian movie of 2015. This movie will change the way you think about prayer and encourage you to make it a part of your everyday routine.