Thursday, March 16, 2017

God's Not Dead 2 (2016)

IMDb plot summary: When a high school teacher is asked a question in class about Jesus, her response lands her in deep trouble.
Directed by Harold Cronk. Starring Melissa Joan Hart, Jesse Metcalfe, David A.R. White, and Hayley Orrantinia.

Well, yeah, this was about what I thought it would be. It borrows some of its awfulness from the first film. I do mean this literally, as there are multiple subplots that are almost identical to those of the original. I also mean this thematically, however, as both of these movies follow a specific, very distressing, pattern: Paint the enemy in the most ridiculous, hyperbolic, cartoonishly evil light, and then anything the Christian says will be reasonable and self-evident in comparison. But this is a terrible, and, I'd argue, anti-Christian, way to frame a story like this. It means this movie is not to convert the unsaved (who could possibly see themselves in the non-Christians in these movies?!), nor is it to give Christians a road map on how to deal with those who oppose their religion (it's highly unlikely a Christian will EVER run into such clear-cut villains). All it does is hype up the sense of paranoia and victimization that I already think is negatively affecting American Christianity. It allows the Christian viewer to feel smug about how reasonable their own point of view is. Well, yes, it is reasonable here, but not because their point of view is objectively correct, but because the other side is overtly malicious in every way.

Just like the first film, this makes me actively angry. Poorly-written, badly-acted, super-awkward Christian films with a good heart (talking to you, Kendrick brothers) I can tolerate. Poorly-written, badly-acted, super-awkward Christian films that encourage us to think the worst of our non-Christian neighbors I cannot. This is a narrative that I believe is damaging to our faith and antithetical to the way Scripture commands us to think of others. It fails to tell a competent story AND it fails to uphold the faith. There's nothing good to be found here.

Oh, I guess I should say some more about the movie itself besides the awful message it sends out. It's simultaneously more boring and more haphazard than the first movie. The evil lawyer is the most interesting character because he has a little personality. Every subplot stolen from the first film has no purpose (probably because they were actually solved already and brought back this time for no reason). The attempts at Christian apologetics make zero sense in the context of the story and are therefore even more cringey than in the original, as it's more clearly a lecture for the audience. So, back to my original point: Nothing good to be found here.

0.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
God's Not Dead 2 < Candy
God's Not Dead 2 < The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
God's Not Dead 2 < Dracula (1931)
God's Not Dead 2 < The World is Not Enough (1999)
God's Not Dead 2 < American Gangster
God's Not Dead 2 < The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things
God's Not Dead 2 < Alvin and the Chipmunks
God's Not Dead 2 < Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde
God's Not Dead 2 < The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
God's Not Dead 2 < The Pacifier
God's Not Dead 2 > Mallrats
Final spot: #2592 out of 2593.

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