Our very first movie review!
Okay, calm down, calm down, and let's get down to business. I'm so excited to be reviewing this particular movie as our first featured film.
The movie begins with a freshman college student, Josh Wheaton, registering for classes. Seeing the cross and Newsboys t-shirt he's wearing, the staff member warns him away from Philosophy 150 with Professor Radisson. "Think Roman Colosseum. Lions. People cheering for your death." But Josh sticks with the class and within the first ten minutes finds his faith challenged by the preacher of atheism. The professor asks everyone to write "God is dead" on a sheet of paper, sign it, and turn it in.
Josh refuses to do so.
The professor then challenges him to support his position that God is alive by teaching the next three classes. If he can prove that God's alive, he passes. If not, he loses thirty percent of his over-all grade right off the bat.
The movie deals heavily with the component of Christianity being challenged and ridiculed, particularly in secular universities. If viewers stay and watch through the end credits, they will see numerous cases listed of Christians/groups vs. universities where freedom of speech and religion were threatened to the point it was taken to court.
But I don't want potential movie-goers to think they'll be stuck in a philosophy classroom for over two hours listening to a professor and student debate. Numerous spin-offs occur throughout the film that deal with the questions of sickness, relationships, death, and multicultural perceptions of Christianity.
For the non-Christians that are likely to write this film off feeling it will be too preachy- too forceful and abrasive- I challenge you to see this film. The producers did an excellent job of approaching many of the issues addressed from the perspective of non-believers, atheists, and agnostics alike. Many of the questions and mindsets posed are identical to those of my own prior to becoming a Christian.
Some of the issues addressed include "where is God when bad things happen and why would He allow it," scientific reasoning behind God's existence (including excerpts from Charles Darwin and Stephen Hawking), and the consequences that are faced in several other cultures by choosing to be a Christian.
Sexuality: None (Unless you count the general overview shot of campus showing several girls in semi-short-shorts.)
Substance Abuse: None (Unless you count the philosophy department sipping wine.)
Violence: Minimal **spoilers** A young woman is drug out of the house by her hair and struck several times by her father. A man is hit by a car and his body is shown being thrown through the air. This happens quickly and there is minimal blood or lingering visualization.
Other Elements: Obviously the spiritual content is high. The purpose of the movie was to delve into the common debates surrounding spirituality. But the essence in which this is done is appropriate and the motives are pure. No complaints there. Also, some more strictly rigid Christians may have objections to the presence of a contemporary Christian band's presence in the film. Also the fact that the movie is currently playing in a movie theater....
Wrapping It up
Some surprise elements I loved: I had no idea that Willie and Korie Robertson guest starred for a short cameo. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Duck Commander pop up on screen ya'll.
Also I had no idea the Newsboys had a cameo. And a decently long one. As evidenced by my yelping out loud in the theater, "Duncan!...and Frankenstein!"
One of the huge reasons this film struck so near and dear to my heart is that I experienced something similar to what Josh went through while at the state university I attended. While the experience was nowhere near the magnitude of what he faced, I had to answer some very difficult questions on the spot, my first semester, in front of easily one hundred classmates, and found myself gritting my teeth at some of the ridicule Christians received in my humanities class. And again, at the end of my baccalaureate career, my nursing class was told we were not allowed to say the traditional nursing prayer at the end of our pinning ceremony due to a parent being offended the semester before. Thankfully, the class came to a unanimous agreement and was able to sway the dean by all signing a petition requesting the prayer to continue.
My school was in an isolated rural area. And this is still an issue.
The last thing I'm going to leave the audience with is the answer to the question, "How's the quality of the film?" There's no secret in the fact that many Christian films leave much to be desired in the way of filming and production quality. Let's face it, most of these independent companies simply have not had the revenue or time in existence to build up that kind of silver screen sterlingness (I'm aware that's not a word. I was going for alliteration, k?).
This movie is hands-down the best I've seen in aspects of quality. The filming is crisp and clean. And the settings are diverse. Some of the inexperience is still evident in the dialogue of the script. As the great Cherith Plesscher whispered to me in the dark of the theater, "They're a little extreme with the personalities sometimes, hey?" Yes. The good people are good. The bad people are bad. And the art of subtlety still has some room for improvement. But the quality has improved in leaps and bounds and the progression of Christian independent films in the last 5-7 years amazes and excites me. The acting has improved immensely as well.
And you know how we can keep this trend going? By supporting them when they come out. So go!
We are giving this film a 9.75 out of 10 star rating. And telling everyone to go!
Has anyone seen it yet? Want to see it? Have an opinion on Christian films?
Let us hear it!
Picture Credits: www.charismanews.com