by Austin Consigny
Harold Cronk’s God’s Not Dead is the riveting story of a young man’s bold stand for Christ in and around his college campus against his professor and fellow peers. Based on the many reported cases of Christian persecution in different schools around the world, the new movie has a unique place among other films that have been recently released. The motion picture features an up-and-coming cast, including names such as Shane Harper and Kevin Sorbo, and is packed with a remarkable storyline. God’s Not Dead, with its remarkable acting, well-built storyline, and overall message, is a film that can be enjoyed by anyone.
The story takes place at a small university shot in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Josh Wheaton, (played by Shane Harper) is an incoming freshman at the school and is already interested in becoming a lawyer when he graduates. Upon arrival on his first day there, he is warned by a fellow student, who spots his cross necklace, that he might want to look at switching out of his philosophy class. Wheaton soon learns why when he experiences his first class with heavily-opinionated and devout atheist, Professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo). The class begins with the dogmatic professor requiring every student to simply write the phrase “God is dead,” and sign their name in order to pass the class. When Wheaton is faced with the choice to stand up for what he believes in or go along with the crowd, he refuses to conform to the norm set in the classroom and makes his stand against his instructor. This starts an ongoing debate over three class periods in which Wheaton is given the assignment to prove the existence of God in front of his fellow classmates and professor in order to receive a passing grade. This results in a series of thought-provoking debates with a ton of fascinating dialogue. It also features several stories within the movie that all eventually tie together in the end.
Through the acting, this movie proves successful with getting its main point across very clearly. Although this was a very different role for Shane Harper (Disney Channel’s Good Luck Charlie, High School Musical 2) to work on, he proved to deliver an excellent performance. The same can be said for Kevin Sorbo (Hercules, the Legendary Journeys), Paul Kwo (Thor: The Dark World, Scrubs), and Dean Cain (Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) who each have starred in their share of shows with differing topics. This film also features special appearances by 4 time Grammy-nominated Christian Rock band, Newsboys as well as Duck Dynasty’s Willie and Korie Robertson.
Not only is the acting superb, but so is the storyline. The film consists of eight different people’s stories and perspectives of what is going on throughout the film. Some characters never come in contact with each other; some stories are intertwined completely. This provides an interesting perspective to the story, allowing the audience to see the reasoning behind Professor Radisson’s personal view of God as well as many other back stories. Aside from the classroom debates, the storyline is what makes the movie so entertaining to watch. Eventually everything makes sense, which for a viewer can give the feeling of relief upon discovering the reasoning behind so many of the events that occur throughout the film.
The weakest part of the movie would have to be its use of scenery. The film takes place mostly within the campus of the small university. The outside landscape and architecture of the buildings are shown as being luxurious, although not everything is pleasing to the eye. The shots that take place within the classroom or in Wheaton’s room (never identifying itself as being his room at his house or a dormitory) are very bland. Each scene shows blank walls and bland furniture that would be comparable to those in a hospital. It isn’t a crucial part to the film but can definitely be distracting at times.
God’s Not Dead is a film that combines the human’s natural search for truth with the enjoyment of discovering the reasoning behind things. This drama is aimed towards all ages but is definitely an entertaining production for young people who may have questions and are curious about why things are the way they are.
Photo by Sam Leighton, distributed under Creative Commons