Friday, April 1, 2016

God's Not Dead 2 Review

And so, the day has come, when the single most anticipated sequel since The Land Before Time XIV would arrive onto the populace to spread "wisdom" and "harmony".  Yes, folks, God's Not Dead 2 has been bestowed upon us all. In this second chapter of the God's Not Dead saga, Grace Wesley (Melissa Joan Hart), is a High School teacher whose Jesus Christ-related answer to a student's question ends up getting her into some hot water. More specifically, her actions end up getting her embroiled in a court case where the opposing lawyers are out to prove once and for all....that God is dead. She's gonna need the help of a kindly non-believing lawyer named Tom Endler (Jesse Metcalfe), the wisdom of God's grace and I'm gonna need even more assistance to stay awake during the two hour run-time of this cinematic fiasco.

Allow me to get this sliver of praise out of the way right now; God's Not Dead 2 is a marginal improvement on its predecessor. Oh, this is still a bad movie, make no mistake about it, but whereas this one was a vile hate-filled piece of trash, this one is just more delusional and boring. You can chalk that up to the fact that in the first movie the more over-the-top sinister figures in the story (like Kevin Sorbo's rage-filled atheist professor) were at the center of the plot, whereas in 2 Gods Not 2 Dead such maniacal figures are relegated to supporting roles. So, yay for minor miracles I guess?

Looking over God's Not Dead 2: The Search For Havilah's Gold as a whole, it amuses me how stagnant all of the characters in this feature are. Seriously, nobody goes through any kind of arc at all in this entire movie. Grace starts out as an uber-Christian, she ends the tales as an uber-Christian. Evil lawyer Pete Kane (Ray Wise) is just as evil at the conclusion of this yarn as he was when he first walked on-screen. Perplexingly, Tom Endler seems like a character whose arc seems blatantly obvious; he'll start out as a non-believer, then, over the course of the case, become a believer, right? Nope. Every individual in this plot is stagnant as hell, which compounds the tedious nature of the entire affair.

Most of the acting found here is forgettable, but I should make note of veteran character actor Ray Wise, who plays the antagonistic lawyer Peter Kane, a fellow whose extremely heightened sinister nature makes Clarence Bodicker look like Captain America. He smiles with wicked glee at the sight of a pastor being carried out on a stretcher, he expresses a contempt for Duck Dynasty and goes on extended monologues about the level of hatred he has for Christians. His stylized "eeeevil" nature does not gel at all with the more grounded world he inhabits, but he's the only character to pop up in the entire film who has a personality of note and I dearly wish he got more to do in the movie.

The entirety of God's Not Dead 2: The Quickening is driven by the delusional concept that Christianity is being openly persecuted in modern day society, with a pastor from the first movie (a select few characters from God's Not Dead 1 show up for very little narrative related reasoning) declaring openly that Christians are currently "at war" when it comes to their faith, Yes, because we all know how much maltreated Christians are in the film's setting, the super anti-Christian state of Arkansas. Opponents or even just individuals dubious of this idea of "Christian Persecution" are depicted as wimpy losers, evil lawyers and greedy men who loudly chow down on ribs. Seriously, the depictions of all of the bad guys in this movie are so stylized even Joel Schumacher would think they're all a bit too over-the-top. Anywho though, the "Christian Persecution Complex" runs as a pervasive theme throughout the movie, though no definitive reason is given for why this is happening now. One potential cause comes in the form of the phrase "Tolerance & Diversity" (which is one of  many factors that the movie brings up as a cause for why Christians are being persecuted in this day & age) and the term is spoken about by the protagonists in the same tone that Gandalf used to describe the terrifying power of The One Ring.

Yeah, it doesn't make much sense why "Tolerance & Diversity" is brought up as a reason for why these characters feel so victimized, but then again, very little in God's Not Dead 2: The Atheists Strike Back makes all that much sense. Basically, this film is a lackadaisical undertaking that's only an improvement over its predecessor in the fact that it contains 100% less murders than the first movie and, to be legitimately fair here, this follow-up does look a bit more professionally made than its predecessor. If you're seeking a sloppily made descent into delusional martyrdom (complete with a cameo by Mike Huckabee supporting such a concept to add...."authenticity"?), here's the movie you've been waiting for. But as both a Christian and a lover of cinema, God's Not Dead 2: The Secret Of The Ooze left me bored and aggravated.

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