God’s Not Dead is very much a film for Christian believers. The producers made the film for a tiny $2 million and so far, it has returned a fabulous $59 million at the box office.
In the world of low budget films, this is a miracle in itself. The film has found an audience, in spite of crushing reviews by the mainstream critical community. Christians will find their faith strengthened, scoffers will likely be bored.
The story comes from a series of actual court cases brought by the Alliance Defending Freedom which readers may remember as the Alliance Defense Fund, its previous name. The ADF specializes in litigation involving issues of religious freedom.
In the fictionalized and stylized movie version, a freshman enters a philosophy class dominated by a strongly anti-religious professor.
The student, played with a natural kind of acting by 21 year old Shane Harper, must defend his position that God exists in the class against the professor.
It isn’t exactly a debate, but the scale is heavily weighted against the freshman and in favor of the professor, a man with decades of experience.
Kevin Sorbo plays the professor, and he plays it well. He is the only “name” actor in the film, and his decades of acting experience shows. Viewers will most remember him from his TV role as Hercules where he showed his muscles and beat up people.
The young student has everything working against him. He doesn’t have the knowledge base or the experience base to prove God’s existence. His beautiful girlfriend dumps him for endangering his future with a possible bad grade. Only the campus minister seems to be able to give him hope and direction.
A collection of side stories provide a buffer to the formal presentation of proof in the philosophy class. A young Muslim girl finds Christ. The campus minister and his visiting friend, an African minister, experience a series of miracles.
A jerk businessman comes to God, and a cancer victim discovers peace. I won’t mention what happens to the professor in case someone wants to see the film.
Director Harold Crank also directed the TV movie “Jerusalem Countdown.” That was a thriller based on a bestselling novel by a Christian evangelist. He used actors David A.R. White and Marco Khan in the TV movie.
White plays Rev. Dave and Khan plays the father of the Muslim convert in “God’s Not Dead.” Crank has other credits but none as famous as “Jerusalem Countdown.”
The writers are also experienced in Hollywood. Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman also collaborated on “Earth vs. the Spider.” Konzelman is better known for the 1998 classic “Point Blank.” He penned the religious themed “What if…” in 2010 which also stared Kevin Sorbo and grossed $800,000.
Also appearing–as themselves–in “God’s Not Dead” are Willie and Korie Robertson from the popular Duck Dynasty TV show. The Christian Rock group “The Newsboys” also appear as themselves.
It might also be worthwhile to watch the credits at the end of the film. We rarely see the job title listed “Apologetic Researcher.”
In fact, “apologetics” in Christian theology are the defenses of doctrine, or in this case, of God himself. It comes from the Greek meaning verbal defense.
There is NO offensive language or skin at all.
Release date: March 21, 2014
Director: Harold Cronk
Run Time: 1 hour, 53 min
Writers: Hunter Dennis, Chuck Konzelman
Starring: Shane Harper, Kevin Sorbo, David A.R. White