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Opinion: ‘God’s Not Dead’ simply too predictable

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“God’s Not Dead”

Ian Soltes is a 25-year-old Norwalk resident and former Norwalk Community College student. He writes game reviews for an online review site, Darkstation, and has written more than 50 reviews for Gamefaqs. 

“God’s Not Dead,” is a recently released film created by Pure Flix Entertainment.

NORWALK, Conn. – “God’s Not Dead” follows the story of several characters, all of whom are dealing with the various aspects and problems of their faith. Central to them all, however, is a young student named Josh Wheaton. Josh is a college student who takes a class in philosophy seeking to earn the credits to pass the semester.

However, before the class even truly starts, before the first assignment is handed out, the teacher, Jeffery Radisson, has the class sign a paper stating that ‘God is Dead’ in order to pass the course. Josh refuses and the teacher gives him a challenge. If he can come up and defend Christianity and God in the class, with the students functioning as the jury and himself as the prosecution, he will give Josh a passing grade.

This is the kind of movie you’ve seen, even if you haven’t actually seen it before. It’s pretty clear where the plot is going to the point where there can be no spoilers. From the start, seeing as this is a Christian film with a heavily pro-Christian tilt, it is clear that Josh will win the debate with his teacher. In addition to this plotline, however, there are several other orbital plots.

A blogger named Amy who initially writes articles critical of “Duck Dynasty” finds out she has cancer. Upon telling this to her boyfriend, seeking support, her boyfriend, Mark who only cares about business, breaks up with her because “she’s not keeping her end of the bargain,” making Amy desperate to find a thread of hope. Mark’s sister, Mina, is currently dating Jeffery’s antagonist and trying to maintain her faith while being with a man who is hostile to it and having a brother who cares only about income and wealth. A young Muslim woman named Ayisha overhears Josh and is struggling, as she has converted to Christianity in secret and is trying to hide it from her father. All this time, Josh is seeking the spiritual aid from a reverend who is stuck in a church due to constant car troubles. In the end, everything ends up relating back to Josh.

The characters are transparently clear to the point of their actions being entirely predictable. It is clear Josh is going to win the debate, it’s clear from how Jeffery treats Mina that Mina will break up with him, it’s clear Ayisha will be found out and cast out of her family for converting, and it’s clear that Amy will seek out God for hope to combat the cancer. It’s clear-cut and obvious as to the outcomes. They’re all cardboard cutouts whose actions can be predicted with ease and who exemplify both the best, and worst, traits of the group they represent as the plot needs. It’s almost cartoonish how atheistic Jeffery is and how much he’s willing to swing around his weight as a professor. Were there seriously no other people of any faith in his class? Would the college dean really allow a professor to get away with such a thing, especially in a philosophy class as opposed to a ‘hard’ subject like biology? Would someone REALLY break up with their girlfriend just because “she wasn’t honoring the deal” by developing cancer?

As a film, there just isn’t anything of substance. It’s a personal testament at best and something meant for discussion as opposed to entertainment. The plot is predictable, the characters are cutouts, and there is little to hang onto that won’t be clear from the get-go. This is meant to be played in a church sermon or a Bible study, not in a movie-theater.

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On a personal note, I have added this separate from the review as I want to say something about this film, not as a critic, but as a person whom has spent a lot of time dealing with my own faith. While, in my review, I have called the plot predictable and the characters cardboard cutouts, I have also dealt with people who have acted exactly like in the movie in real life – people who feel their atheism is a justification to treat people of any faith as lesser beings and idiots who know nothing; people who only see others as a resource or bargain-deal who would toss aside their girlfriend simply because she had developed cancer, not out of fear or the immensity of such a thing, but because they feel that there are better “deals” elsewhere now. It is refreshing and enjoyable to finally see people like this get confronted head-on and have to deal with the struggles and arrogances of people like this.

On a spiritual level as well, this is a very refreshing film as it is quite easy, when one is stuck in the front lines every day upon the Internet forums, where a debate can be stopped or ended by the other side sticking their fingers in their ears, or a single point can be repeated en masse, to have a simple refreshment from such a thing. Even if you are not a Christian, having a simple grounding and a reminder that there is something more and that these battles against people who will mock you and look down upon you for being different can be won. That’s not to frame atheists as the bad guys, though, as there are many sane and reasonable atheists, and even they may love to see the worst of their belief taken down a peg by someone willing to stand up for what they believe is right.

Comments

One response to “Opinion: ‘God’s Not Dead’ simply too predictable”

  1. John Levin

    As an atheist, I find this film deeply offensive. But the film speaks for itself, and some terrifically entertaining and far more reasoned reviews can be found on the Rotten Tomatoes.com website: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/gods_not_dead/

    What I find even more offensive is Ian Soltes’ movie review, somehow crafted as an opinion piece (seriously?). Ian tells us that “on a personal note” he has “dealt with people who have acted exactly like in the movie in real life – people who feel their atheism is a justification to treat people of any faith as lesser beings and idiots who know nothing”, and that he finds the film “refreshing”. Ian’s defense of the evil atheist stereotypes depicted in the film as realistic is obnoxious and offensive, and supports the kind of bigotry that few other minority groups would consider acceptable.

    Finally, it may be worth reminding Ian that we all are atheists toward thousands of gods. Some of us just went one god further.

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