God’s Not Dead 4: We the People (Movie Review)

God's Not Dead' Sequel Could Throw Gas on Raging Culture War Fires -  Hollywood in Toto

Plot Summary

Pastor Dave is up to another one of his escapades, this time standing up to an evil social worker, as well as a local judge, who wants to shut down a homeschooling co-op for not teaching certain curriculums. Thus, the only option for Dave is to take the homeschooling families to testify before Congress just as the government is debating a radical education bill that would take over all education in the entire country. Will Dave’s unhinged diatribes be enough to save the nation’s homeschoolers from total annihilation???

Production Quality (2.5 points)

Like many recent PureFlix movies, God’s Not Dead 4: We the People contains a fine production with few errors. Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are all either average or better. Sets, locations, and props are also up to industry standards. The only concerns in this section pertain to very poor CGI and some aspects of unprofessional editing. Thus, a relatively high score is warranted in this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-1.5 points)

With this unnecessary fourth installment of a half-baked film franchise that almost no one cares about anymore, the PureFlix team returns to their original God’s Not Dead and Do You Believe? roots by serving up a hodge-podge of politically charged subplots, smashed together in a salad of madness. This screenplay also calls back to the older days of PureFlix when their patented in-your-face dialogue, issue-representing characters, and absurdly childish villains reigned supreme. With literally no real-world precedent for a local government successfully regulating the curriculum of a homeschooling co-op, the writers of this narrative look for persecution under every rock while espousing a very backwards fundamentalist worldview. As conversations are used to dump one-sided information, culture war buzzwords, and extremist talking points on the viewers, We the People has the feel of an anti-Common Core docu-drama, complete with cheesy stock footage of Washington DC and quotes from President Ronald Reagan to fill time. While attempting to riff on and pay homage to whatever random and irrelevant hill on which the ultra-conservative Christian audience is trying to die these days, the writers of this “movie” craft overly contrived scenes and situations that are full of ridiculous coincidences and unrealistic portrayals of legal proceedings. It all crashes into a bombastic conclusion complete with an impassioned David A. R. White meltdown. Therefore, due to the propaganda nature of this plot, negative points are awarded here.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Although many cast members are average or slightly better in their performances, David A. R. White stands out for all the wrong reasons. Between slurry line delivery and bad phone acting, it’s hard to ignore White’s typical unprofessionalism. Elsewhere, some emotions come off as mechanical even though line delivery is mostly acceptable. Some performances are better than others, which produces an average rating.

Conclusion

This unwarranted creation is an embodiment of how PureFlix is being hollowed out as a company and replaced with better prospects. The noticeably shorter runtime and lower budget of We the People demonstrates the overall decline of PureFlix, once at the pinnacle of Christian entertainment. However, this dethronement is a sign of progress for Christian media, leaving the fourth God’s Not Dead film as just a relic of a bygone era that can remind us to never go back to those days.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

God’s Not Dead 4: We the People (Fall 2021)

Coming to theaters in Fall 2021 from PureFlix

Writer(s): Tommy Blaze

Director(s): Vance Null

Producer(s): Brent Ryan Green, Ben Laurro, Kim Percival, Michael Scott, David A. R. White, Anna Zielinski

Starring: David A. R. White, William Forsythe, Isaiah Washington, Antonio Sabato Jr., Jeanine Pirro, Amanda Jaros, Paul Kwo, Francesa Battistelli, Matt Anspach, Marco Khan, Benjamin A. Onyango, Hadeel Sittu, Deborah Tucker, Lena Harmon, Anna Zielinski, Vincent De Paul, Nancy Harding, Gary Galone, Christian Stokes, Dani Oliveros, Leticia Robles, Grayson Palumbo, Benét Embry, Tatum Hatfield, Victor Caballero

Plot Synopsis: When an evil government official inspects a homeschooling family and tries to shut down the home learning operation, Pastor Dave (along with some lawyers) is ready to take the fight to highest court in the land! Liberty and religious freedom (as well as PureFlix’s future finances) are on the line, so there’s a lot resting on this fictional court drama that will inevitably feature a Fox News anchor. Will PureFlix be able to successfully use the fourth installment of a half-baked franchise to revitalize their business model?

Movie Renovation: God’s Not Dead

See original review here.

 

Production Improvements

There are really few production errors to note in the first God’s Not Dead film.  The primary issue with this production is, of course, the editing, due to the large and complex amount of content that is attempted to be used in this film.  Thus, if the plot categories were improved, the editing issue would likely also improve.

Plot and Storyline Improvements

The plot of God’s Not Dead needs some serious work.  For one, there are too many ideas shoved into one two-hour film.  A lot of these ideas really need to be movies of their own, such as the Muslim family subplot and the Chinese student subplot.  The blogger character and all of her connections (Dean Cain, the Robertsons, etc.) need to be deleted completely.  The woman with dementia is an interesting aside, but it needs better development.  Pastor Dave and his connections really wouldn’t be missed either; this area might be better if it was altered.  Finally, the portrayal of the atheist professor is noteworthy and better than most, but it still could be better and less over the top.  The “character who is an atheist because their mother died of cancer” trope is a bit thin.  Also, there are obviously instances of anti-Christian bias in academia, but this story could have been a bit more down to earth.  Thus, with a lot of separation, editing, organization, and focus, this plot could have pushed the film into the Hall of Fame.

Acting Improvements

While the acting of the original God’s Not Dead is actually a major improvement over most PureFlix casts, it still isn’t perfect.  For one, David A. R. White and Tommy Blaze rarely need to be acting.  Trisha LaFache is average at best and needs serious coaching.  Dean Cain should probably never be cast again.  Kevin Sorbo has his place, but not as a raging professor.  Otherwise, this cast is fine.

Conclusion

There was a reason the beginning of the God’s Not Dead saga was so popular, and it wasn’t because of its portrayal of atheists.  It has a lot of intriguing content and a lot of ideas that need further exploration in different venues.  Trying to lump all of it together in one film was a disappointment.  However, it was the first time PureFlix actually proved they could be at least somewhat responsible with their budget, including a high-quality production.  Perhaps one day someone will use some of the half-baked ideas of God’s Not Dead for greater purposes.

God’s Not Dead 2 (Movie Review)

Is this thing over yet?
Is this thing over yet?

Plot Summary

When Christian teacher Grace Wesley is sued by a student’s parents for daring to mention the name of Jesus in her classroom, she is confused as to what is even happening to her. Yet, inspired by the wisdom of her ailing father whom she takes care of, Grace refuses to back down and begins working with her union-appointed lawyer to fight back in court. With her faith under fire, Grace’s case draws the attention of many from the town of Hope Springs, including Pastor James White David Hill, who serves on the jury. As Grace’s beliefs are attacked and tested over and over again, she must dig deep to withstand the world’s onslaught so that Christianity is not snuffed out forever.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

In the new era of PureFlix, video quality and camera work are no longer in question.  The sets, locations, and surroundings are respectable.  The musical score is average.  On the surface, God’s Not Dead 2 looks like a professional film, but there are many hidden issues therein.  Of the high profile Christian movies we have reviewed, this is possibly the worst edited one to date.  The many-subplots addiction from God’s Not Dead and Do You Believe? is back, and this time, they are more empty than ever.  As will be discussed next, there long sections of this movie that consist of characters staring into space and attempting to sing.  Essentially, this was just a lazy production effort that looks good on the outside but not on the inside.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

In this plot, Christian characters are very perfect in every way while atheist characters are hopelessly evil.  What’s more, atheists are borderline ridiculed, giving an embarrassing feel to the film.  Subplots jump all over the place, confusing the viewer.  The premise and other plot happenings are unrealistic and cannot be reconciled with reality.  The storyline is saturated with legal rhetoric that is either only half-true or isolating to the audience.  Besides these glaringly obvious issues, the plot does not hold the attention and is very drab.  There are many slow and melancholy scenes that seem to be designed only to pad the runtime.  Large portions of the film are dedicated to advertising apologetic books and other Christian ‘celebrities’.  While there is a lot of good information in these product placements, it flies over the audience’s heads and is not remembered.  With all this wasted time, there is zero character development, therefore we cannot even appreciate the struggles that are portrayed.  In addition, the dialogue is chock-full of swipes at atheists and ‘worldly’ people.  The ending is very empty and anticlimactic (despite desperate attempts) and even includes an off-the-wall post-credits scene.  Basically, David A. R. White and company just phoned this one in, hoping that the title name recognition would garner them some more cash.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

While this section is not all bad, there is a lot of monotone acting in this film.  In another attempt to create buzz by trotting out C-grade ‘big name’ actors and actresses (in addition to the typical PureFlix clowns), this attempt basically flops.  Most of the characters carry a Hallmark-ish look to them, with far too much makeup and costuming.  Other cast members are just blank—even though they show potential, there’s no one to draw it out.  In the end, there is really nothing new here.

Conclusion

In our experience, the world portrayed in this film has never existed.  This is not to diminish the plights of some, but the realm PureFlix constructs in many of their films is over the top and outside of reality.  Rather than preaching to the choir with a juvenile us-against-the-world narrative that further divides Christians and atheists, the money spent on these types of films would be better spent on films that actually strengthen the church as a whole and tastefully address how American Christian behavior can improve.  No one will be saved as a result of God’s Not Dead 2.  Christians will not be inspired to grow closer to God as a result of viewing this movie.  I would never recommend this movie to a non-believer because the creators give no concern to opposing points of view.  Since we as Christians have the truth, we have no need to force it down people’s throats with no regard for their feelings.  Delegitimizing someone else’s beliefs has no place in the gospel message.  Yet with an awkwardly placed post-credits scene, we are all but promised more of the same nonsense from PureFlix.  This is not the direction Christian film needs to go in and now more than ever we need someone who will stand up and combat the image movies like this one project.

 

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points

God’s Not Dead (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Josh Wheaton didn’t ask to be put in the philosophy class of the infamous Professor Radisson.  He also didn’t anticipate having to sign a piece of paper stating that God is dead in order to achieve a high grade in the class.  But prompted by the help of a local pastor, Wheaton decides to not only refuse to sign the paper but also to prove God’s existence in front of the class in addition to his other class assignments.  It’s something that those closest to him do not understand or agree with, but it brings him closer to God and to other people.  Little does he know that Professor Radisson and even those connected to him are being profoundly impacted in ways he never expected.

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

This is perhaps the strongest area of the movie.  God’s Not Dead has better production than a majority of PureFlix movies, which shows great progress.  The camera work is great, and the editing is pretty good considering the many interconnected story lines.  The sets are authentic and varied and the lighting is good.  The soundtrack is effective.  The only real error to consider here is the fact that there may be too much content included.  In short, the money used for the movie is mostly put to good use.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Unfortunately, the plot is a bit weak, mostly due to the large number of story lines.  There is nothing inherently wrong with a movie about the interconnected lives of people, and for the most part, God’s Not Dead does a fairly good job managing the content.  However, it seems like there are one too many subplots and one too many characters.  If one or two of these were eliminated and that time used to develop other more interesting characters, this movie would greatly improve.  As it is, the dialogue is pretty good considering the number of characters.  There are some interesting twists and not everything turns out as expected in the end.  Most of the characters are believable, but some seem to be caricatures.  In summary, the plot is a mixed bag with a lot of untapped potential.

Acting Quality (2 points)

When compared to older PureFlix movies, the acting in God’s Not Dead is superb, for most of the actors.  This is David A. R. White’s best acting job to date.  Shane Harper is great in his major debut.  However, Dean Cain and Trisha LaFache are uninspiring.  But still, one could argue that they did not have much to work with.  All in all, the acting is another mixed bag.

Conclusion

God’s Not Dead is the best PureFlix-created movie in their existence.  Improved acting, improved production quality, and improved plot development all contributed to this rise.  However, they still have not hit their ceiling.  There is a lot of potential in this movie, and on its face, it is still an above average movie.  What is most important is that the core message of God’s Not Dead is driven home without being overly preachy or unwatchable.  This is success in and of itself.

 

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points