God's Not Dead (film)

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God's Not Dead
God's Not Dead.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Harold Cronk
Produced by
  • Michael Scott
  • Russell Wolfe
  • Anna Zielinski
Written by
  • Chuck Konzelman
  • Cary Solomon
Based on God's Not Dead
by Rice Broocks
Starring
Music by Will Musser
Cinematography Brian Shanley
Edited by Vance Null
Production
company
Distributed by
Release date
  • March 21, 2014 (2014-03-21)
Running time
113 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2 million[2]
Box office $62.6 million[3]

God's Not Dead is a 2014 Christian drama film directed by Harold Cronk and starring Kevin Sorbo, Shane Harper, David A. R. White and Dean Cain. The film was released theatrically on March 21, 2014, by Pure Flix Entertainment.[4]

Written by Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman, and based on Rice Brooks' book God's Not Dead: Evidence for God in an Age of Uncertainty, the film follows a Christian college student (Harper) whose faith is challenged by a philosophy professor (Sorbo) who declares God a pre-scientific fiction. The film grossed over $62 million on a $2 million budget.[3]

The film won a GMA Dove Award for "Inspirational Film of the Year."[5]

Plot[edit]

Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), an evangelical college student, enrolls in a philosophy class taught by Professor Jeffrey Radisson (Kevin Sorbo), an misotheist, who demands his students sign a declaration that "God is dead" to pass. Josh is the only student who refuses to sign. Radisson requires Josh to debate the topic with him but agrees to let the class members decide the winner. Josh's girlfriend Kara (Cassidy Gifford) demands Josh either sign the statement "God is dead" or drop Radisson's class, because standing up to Radisson will jeopardize their academic future. Kara breaks up with Josh for insisting on confessing his belief in God.

Radisson gives Josh twenty minutes at the end of the first three lecture sessions to argue that God exists. In the first session, Josh presents his evidence that God created the universe. In the second session, Josh argues that macroevolution is not as solid of a theory as it is usually presented. In the first two sessions, Radisson has counter-arguments for some of Josh's points. Ultimately, it comes down to the third and final debate between Radisson and Josh, who again both make compelling points. Josh then halts his line of debate to pose a question to Radisson: "Why do you hate God?" After Josh repeats the question twice more, Radisson explodes in rage, confirming he hates God for his mother's death that left him alone despite his prayers. Josh then casually asks Radisson how he can hate someone that does not exist. In the end, Martin (Paul Kwo), a student from China whose father had forbidden him from even talking about God to avoid jeopardizing Martin's brother's chance at overseas study, stands up and says, "God's not dead." Almost the entire class follows Martin's lead, and Radisson leaves the room in defeat.

Radisson dates Mina, an evangelical whom he belittles in front of his fellow atheist colleagues. Her brother Mark (Dean Cain), a successful businessman and atheist, refuses to visit their mother, who suffers from dementia. Mark's girlfriend Amy is a left-wing blogger who writes articles critical of Duck Dynasty. When she is diagnosed with cancer, Mark dumps her. A Muslim student named Ayisha (Hadeel Sittu) secretly converts to Christianity and is disowned by her infuriated father when he finds out.

After the final debate, Josh invites Martin to attend a concert by Christian pop rock group the Newsboys. Radisson reads a letter from his late mother, and is moved to reconcile with Mina. Amy confronts the Newsboys in their dressing room, only to ask them to help guide her in converting to Christianity. While on his way to find Mina, Radisson is struck by a car and fatally injured. A reverend waiting at the intersection tends to Radisson and helps him become a Christian as he dies.

The film's main characters all convene at the Newsboys concert, where they play a video clip of Willie Robertson congratulating Josh. The Newsboys play their song "God's Not Dead", dedicating it to Josh.[6]

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The film was shot from October to November 2012, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with the concert scene done in Houston, Texas.[7]

Russell Wolfe, the CEO of Pure Flix Entertainment, stated that:

the inspiration behind the setting of the movie dates back a few years ago. I was in a meeting at Pinnacle Forum and Alan Sears from Alliance Defending Freedom, was speaking. He was speaking about a young girl who was asked to do some things that went against her faith and got in trouble for not doing them. That story put my jaw on the floor and made me think about how many students go to college as a Christian and how few stay a Christian after they finish their four years. It was that story that inspired me to set the movie on a college campus.

— Russell Wolfe[8]

Music[edit]

God's Not Dead
Soundtrack album by Various artists
Released March 3, 2014
Recorded 2013
Length 29:12
Label Inpop Records
Singles from God's Not Dead
  1. "Hold You Up"
    Released: November 5, 2013[9]

God's Not Dead is a soundtrack album by the film of the same name, released on March 3, 2014 by Inpop Records.[10]

Track listing
No. Title Performer(s) Length
1. "Hold You Up" Shane Harper 3:10
2. "Ones and Zeroes" Stellar Kart 3:15
3. "Save a Life" Manic Drive 3:21
4. "What I Know" Tricia Brock 2:19
5. "The King is Coming" Newsboys 2:44
6. "God's Not Dead (Like a Lion)" Newsboys 3:14
7. "This Is the Time" Superchick 4:05
8. "Arrows" Jimmy Needham 3:38
9. "Save Us" JJ Weeks Band 3:15
10. "Excerpts from the Original Score" Will Musser 4:06

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

The film became a surprise success at the box office. In its first weekend of release, the film earned $8.6 million from 780 theaters, causing Entertainment Weekly's Adam Markovitz to refer to it as "the biggest surprise of the weekend".[11]

The film began its international roll out in Mexico on April 4, 2014, where the movie grossed $89,021 its opening weekend.

God's Not Dead grossed $60.8 million in North America and $1.9 million in other territories for a total of $62.6 million, against a budget of $2 million.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film received a rating of 15%, based on 20 reviews, with an average rating of 2.8/10.[12] On Metacritic, the film received a score of 16 out of 100, based on 6 critics, indicating "overwhelming dislike".[13]

Writing for The A.V. Club, Todd VanDerWerff gave the film a "D–," saying, "Even by the rather lax standards of the Christian film industry, God's Not Dead is a disaster. It's an uninspired amble past a variety of Christian-email-forward bogeymen that feels far too long at just 113 minutes".[14] Reviewer Scott Foundas of Variety wrote "...even grading on a generous curve, this strident melodrama about the insidious efforts of America's university system to silence true believers on campus is about as subtle as a stack of Bibles falling on your head...."[15] A number of sources have cited the film's similarities to a popular urban legend. The basic premise of an evangelical student debating an atheist professor and winning in front of the class (who then applauds) has been the subject of a popular Chick tract.[16][17][18]

Evangelical and Roman Catholic response[edit]

The Alliance Defending Freedom, American Heritage Girls, Faith Driven Consumer, Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, Trevecca Nazarene University, The Dove Foundation and Ratio Christi have all endorsed the film.[19]

I believe Christians should go see this movie because it will strengthen their faith and help them question situations about how they stood up or backed down for their faith. It will also encourage them to share their faith more.

On the other hand, the young Earth creationist apologetics ministry, Answers in Genesis, would not endorse the film because of the promotion of several elements which they deemed to be "unbiblical".[21]

Dave Hartline of The American Catholic gave God's Not Dead a positive review and hoped that other films like it will follow.[22] Nick Olszyk of Catholic World Report gave it his highest rating of five reels, calling the film "a tremendously entertaining film that leads to God, not in addition to its quality but through its quality."[23] Vincent Funaro of The Christian Post praised the film for being "a hit for believers and may even appeal to skeptics searching for answers."[24]

Evangelical Michael Gerson, however, was highly critical of the film and its message, writing "The main problem with God's Not Dead is not its cosmology or ethics but its anthropology. It assumes that human beings are made out of cardboard. Academics are arrogant and cruel. Liberal bloggers are preening and snarky. Unbelievers disbelieve because of personal demons. It is characterization by caricature."[25] John Mulderig echoed similar concerns in his review for the Catholic News Service, stating: "There might be the kernel of an intriguing documentary buried within director Harold Cronk's stacked-deck drama, given the extent of real-life academic hostility toward religion. But even faith-filled moviegoers will sense the claustrophobia of the echo chamber within which this largely unrealistic picture unfolds."[26]

Sequels[edit]

Pure Flix Entertainment produced a sequel, God's Not Dead 2,[27] with a release date of April 1, 2016,[28][29] several days after Easter.[30] A third God's Not Dead film has been announced.[31]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "God's Not Dead (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. April 7, 2014. Retrieved April 8, 2014. 
  2. ^ "'God's Not Dead's Kevin Sorbo Takes Hollywood & Media To Task As He Backs Crowdfunding Campaign For Telefilm On Convicted Abortion Doctor Kermit Gosnell". [Deadline]. deadline.com. Retrieved April 5, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c "God's Not Dead (2014)". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. Retrieved August 14, 2014. 
  4. ^ "God's Not Dead: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. March 21, 2014. Retrieved April 26, 2014. 
  5. ^ Emma Koonse. "'God's Not Dead' Earns Two Prestigious Awards, Sequel Film in Development". The Christian Post. Retrieved 2016-11-04. 
  6. ^ Milk Money Promotions. "GOD'S NOT DEAD - Synopsis". godsnotdeadthemovie.com. Retrieved July 12, 2015. 
  7. ^ Schoen, Taylor (November 12, 2012). "Christian movie filming on campus". The Daily Reveille. Retrieved August 30, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Exclusive Interview With Pure Flix Entertainment for God's Not Dead Movie". Alliance Defending Freedom. February 14, 2014. Retrieved April 2, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Hold You Up". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-05-13. 
  10. ^ "God's Not Dead (The Motion Picture Soundtrack)". iTunes. Retrieved December 5, 2016. 
  11. ^ Highfill, Samantha (March 23, 2014). "Box office report: 'Divergent' heads straight for $56 million win | Inside Movies | EW.com". Insidemovies.ew.com. Retrieved April 26, 2014. 
  12. ^ Rotten Tomatoes, "God's Not Dead". Accessed April 17, 2014.
  13. ^ "God's Not Dead Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 12, 2014. 
  14. ^ Todd VanDerWerff (March 24, 2014). "God's Not Dead is a mess even by Christian film standards · Movie Review · The A.V. Club". Avclub.com. Retrieved April 26, 2014. 
  15. ^ Scott Foundas Chief Film Critic @foundasonfilm (March 22, 2014). "'God's Not Dead' Review: A Ham-Fisted Christian Melodrama". Variety. Retrieved April 26, 2014. 
  16. ^ Seemayer, Zach (March 30, 2014). "'Noah' Washes Away Competition At The Box Office". ETonline.com. 
  17. ^ Noble, Alan (October 25, 2013). ""God's Not Dead," But this Trope Is". Patheos. 
  18. ^ Mehta, Hemant (September 10, 2013). "If an anti-atheist story on Snopes were made into a film, it'd be this one". Patheos. 
  19. ^ "God's Not Dead – Endorsements". Pure Flix Entertainment. Retrieved April 1, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Exclusive Interview With Pure Flix Entertainment for God's Not Dead Movie". 
  21. ^ Patterson, Roger (February 25, 2014). "God's Not Dead Movie Review". Answers in Genesis. Retrieved August 30, 2014. 
  22. ^ "God's not dead; There's something happening here". American Catholic. Retrieved April 2, 2014. Slowly but surely with movies like God's Not Dead, others will follow, and the old secular guard will not like it and force us to endure some trials and tribulations. 
  23. ^ Olszyk, Nick. "Crash Meets Mere Christianity". Catholic World Report. Retrieved April 4, 2014. 
  24. ^ Funaro, Vincent. "'God's Not Dead' Review: Encouragement for Believers Facing Secular Hostility". The Christian Post. Retrieved August 5, 2014. 
  25. ^ Gerson, Michael (March 21, 2014). "Michael Gerson: 'Noah,' 'God's Not Dead' are movies lacking grace – The Washington Post". The Washington Post. The Washington Post. Retrieved April 2, 2014. 
  26. ^ Mulderig, John. "God's Not Dead". Catholic News Service. Retrieved April 2, 2014. 
  27. ^ Charisma News Staff. "'God's Not Dead 2' Getting Ready to Rock Atheists' World". Charisma News. Retrieved July 12, 2015. 
  28. ^ "God's Not Dead 2 Teaser Trailer Released in Time for Woodlawn Movie; NFL Star Tim Tebow Comments on Woodlawn Sneak Peek". Christian News, The Gospel Herald. Retrieved October 19, 2015. 
  29. ^ "God's Not Dead 2: Coming April 1, 2016 - God's Not Dead Blog". God's Not Dead Blog. Retrieved October 19, 2015. 
  30. ^ "Pureflix Sets Release Date for God's Not Dead 2: He is Surely Alive". 1More Film Blog. Retrieved October 19, 2015. 
  31. ^ Mark Judge. "Confirmed: There Will be a ‘God’s Not Dead 3’". CNSNews.com.  Retrieved November 2016

External links[edit]