Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper) is a Christian who never thought his faith would get in the way of his higher education. As a result, he is deeply shaken when, on the first day of his Philosophy class, Professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo) begins the semester by demanding that each of his students deny the existence of God in order to earn a passing grade. Although Josh tries his best to graciously refuse, Professor Radisson informs him that in order to continue in the class, the disagreeable student must make an air-tight argument for the defense. Should the class still remain unconvinced of God’s existence, Josh will fail, sending his entire academic future up in flames.
So yeah, God’s Not Dead 2 is being released this week so I thought I’d go back and watch God’s Not Dead. I’m not exactly sure why I did but it’s kind of too late now. After watching this film, I’m pretty sure you technically don’t need to see this film before seeing God’s Not Dead 2 (more to come) but again, too late. I will say that I’m not a Catholic but I don’t think that should matter. I’ve seen a lot of religious movies and reviewed most of them on this site and I am yet to find a real great one. Will this be different? Probably not but I still encourage that you read on.
The story involves a Christian college student named Josh Wheaton (Harper) who thought his faith would not impede his goal of a higher education. His faith gets tested on his first day of Philosophy class when his professor, Jeffrey Radisson (Sorbo) begins the semester by demanding that his students deny the existence of God in exchange for a passing grade which Josh refuses. In order to continue in the class, Josh must argue the existence of God to the rest of the students in the class and should he fail,he will fail thus jeopardizing his future.
I will start off by saying in order to watch this film, one must suspend belief. I felt that in order for the film to achieve its message, it did take some liberties logic-wise in order to get there. For example, the film’s main premise would never occur in real life as a professor would not have allowed it to happen and if he/she would, then they would mostly likely be reprimanded for doing so. The plot also just seemed a little too convenient for me at times. Since it was pretty easy to figure out where the plot was going, this all felt too predictable.
If you haven’t figured it out already, this is a religious film and it definitely did not let you forget that. Characters who had faith, wore it on their sleeves (perhaps too much) and it dictated their actions. Other than this, there’s wasn’t much to any of the characters as they all seemed one-dimensionsional and were more a means to an end. I didn’t believe this personally but I can see that people may be offended by how it depicts religion as those who believed in God were depicted much more favorably than those who didn’t as they were polar opposites from one another, subtly implying one being better than the other. The point was represented mostly by Radisson and a lawyer named Marc Shelley (Dean Cain). Atheists aren’t the only group of people this film will offend but it would offend Muslims as well since the film features one family with a very strict father who later lashes out. My problems with the characters extended much beyond their one-dimensional nature as nearly 3/4 of the characters were irrelevant to the plot as they were just a means to perpetuate the film’s message of Christianity being good and everything else being bad.
I will say that it was nice to see Kevin Sorbo in something new since the only thing I’ve seen him in is the syndicated TV show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys but he didn’t make much of a difference here. I found that the acting, pretty much across the board, was mediocre to bad at best, from the main characters to all the supporting characters who I will not bother mentioning. The worse culprit for me was Harper as Wheaton as he just had no screen presence whatsoever. The acting may have been bad but it must be hard when the actors are struggling at escaping the tidal wave of cheese of a script. It was just hard to like any of the characters as they were all just extremes of different ideals.
Overall, this film is just a piece of pro-Christian propaganda which is still okay but what makes this much worse is that it failed to execute at every level with a bad script, bad acting, and bad directing.