I was wondering when I was going to be able to watch and review another popular Christian film, and what better opportunity is there than God’s Not Dead: A Light In Darkness. After all, I have reviewed the previous two films in the franchise. That being said, I did end up roasting both, but I don’t try to. It all comes down to the writing and the filmmaking and how those things specifically relate to the movie at hand. If it’s done well, a Christian film can be phenomenal. I’m looking at you, Passion of the Christ. If not…welll. Let’s give a quick reminder of why this series is a little silly:
- The title of the franchise itself is lost among non-Christians. Supposedly, the efforts of all three films (and any other Christian movie) is to prove god is real. In this case, not dead. However, who are they trying to prove that to? It can’t be Atheists, because to say “God is not dead” is to also admit he used to be alive or real. Atheists are more or less a simple breed. They don’t believe he is alive or dead, just that he isn’t at all.
- This franchise is based on real events – but only vaguely so. It’s based on hundreds of legal cases using religious persecution, and basically fighting the legal system that put those laws there in the first place.
A church destroyed. A congregation silenced. A relationship shattered. Yet even in life’s darkest valleys, a small flame can light the way toward healing and hope. After a deadly fire rips through St. James Church, Hadleigh University leaders use the tragedy to push the congregation off campus, forcing the church to defend its rights and bringing together estranged brothers for a reunion that opens old wounds and forces them to address the issues that pulled them apart.
I will say that these movies are smart enough to ask the tough questions instead of ignore them, which most religious films would immediately do. They point out a lot of great things, even if they later call those points stupid in their own way. It’s good to see the actual use of both sides of the spectrum. Furthermore, the use of the legal system is still somewhat original for these movies because you can’t just ignore case law and in this case, business law that’s been set in stone for several lifetimes. Also, the presentation of these Christians actually addressing some of the modern problems with Christianity and saying how it’s different than how it should be was actually a strong element in the movie – especially with how it ends – which is something you wouldn’t normally expect. That’s right, unpredictable.
The movie still doesn’t feel like a movie for a variety of reasons – and it is these reasons that ultimately gave the movie it’s bad score. I don’t care how religious a movie is or is not. We need quality. First of all, we all know it’s a religious film, that doesn’t mean the movie needs so many scenes in a church, learning another message. The cinematic effect is lessened every time you can get out of a loop – and there is so much church in this movie. Another problem is the acting/cast. I hate David A.R. White. He is basically the Christian discount Paul Rudd in how he looks and sounds when he talks. He is a middle-aged man that unfortunately can’t stop highlighting his hair to look “cool”, and I can’t take him seriously. I keep waiting for him to laugh because he can’t take himself seriously. He would do SO much better in a sarcastic role. Also, it’s hard to take anyone seriously when it feels like all of these actors are just pastors…which is probably the case. John Corbett was a nice addition, but he didn’t help anyone in the movie feel authentic.
Another problem comes down to the writing. This is ultimately about a school that use to be Christian, left their faith, but the school still stands in controversy. If the school wants to take it down, they have full control – there is no real legal question there – so the basis of the movie isn’t really that strong. Also, schools are allowed to teach about faith, as long as they teach every religion and not single it down to one. All or nothing is something I’ve always believed – unless the school itself is a Christian school all around.
How do I put this? I honestly think this is the best made movie in the franchise. They are slowly, but surely, getting better at what they do. But the process is ultimately doomed to fail if they don’t concede and start making the movies more cinematic and get real actors that don’t also sideline as pastors – because we can tell.
TOTAL SCORE – 44/100
|Title||God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness|
|NARRATIVE ARC SCORE||10|
|Sucks You In|
|Specialty 1:||Genres – Drama|
|Specialty 1 Note:|
|Specialty 1 Rating||5|
|Specialty 2:||Concept – Other Specific|
|Specialty 2 Note:||Religious|
|Specialty 2 Rating||5|
|Specialty 3:||Concept – Other Specific|
|Specialty 3 Note:||Legal question|
|Specialty 3 Rating||5|
|Specialty 4:||Series – Sequel|
|Specialty 4 Note:|
|Specialty 4 Rating|