God’s Not Dead 2 (Sidetones: Shanghai, Rock the Kasbah, Krampus, My All American, and Victor Frankenstein)


(SPOILER WARNING!!! This article does contain spoilers, if you haven’t seen the movie, just see the first paragraph to be informed without spoilers!!!)

God’s Not Dead 2 is very thought provoking, and they definitely do their due diligence on their research to make this movie believable, it may have some plot holes and flaws, but their message is very clear that can inspire anybody willing to believe!!!

Rating: 4 Stars

I said this before, but one of the reasons Christian movies can get a bad rating from critics is because of their very thin storyline. They go with one topic and angle, and run with it. They get to the problem, have the character suffer, go into some kind of convergence and/or reawakening, and then solve the problem with God’s mysterious ways. It gets too basic. With that said, lately, it seems that they are putting in a lot more thought into their movies by not only delivering a good message, but actually making it more realistic or relatable to us today. They actually do their diligence, and make a really good story. When the first God’s Not Dead movie came out, I was very impressed with how thoughtful the writing if this movie was. They actually did their research into the world of philosophy and using that to intertwine God with it to make a very big case. Yes the ending might be too rushed or corny, but their message was very clear and can open your eyes to a whole new aspect of God. With this movie, I was surprised (and a little skeptical) that they made a sequel. I thought it was not needed, but when I heard the story, as a teacher myself, I need to know and learn on what happens in case something like that happens to me. I’m happy to say, that they did deliver on another thought provoking movie.

What I Like: The writing on this story is very superb in delivering another inspiring message. In this case about a teacher who answered a question about Jesus and history, and all the trouble it causes that leads to a big court case about separating church and state. The story got to me because as a teacher, I got a a little talk for saying, “God bless you,” to a student while I was student teaching. It made me realize where my place is, and want to teach at a school with my own denomination to feely share my faith. The teacher, Grace Wesley played by Melissa Joan Hart (where has she been lately), showed a lot of faith and courage in saying that she did nothing wrong, and will stand for God. I enjoyed the chemistry between her and her public defense lawyer, Tom Endler played by Jesse Metcalfe, where they disagree a lot, but is willing to work together to win this case. The movie definitely did their research with law practicing to make this movie court trial very authentic. I enjoyed Endler as a lawyer, because he is really a nobody with a lot to prove, and really delivered. That last scene before the jury deliberation where he put his client on the spot, and daring the jury to convict her was very smart, and powerful to see how a desperate lawyer will do whatever it takes to win. I also enjoyed the witness testimony of a retired homicide detective named J. Warner Wallace, who was an atheist, but after studying the Bible to prove why Jesus doesn’t exist, he became a believer. (A true story.) I liked how everything was against them, including Reverend Dave, played by David A. R. White, was part of the jury, but had to be let go after experiencing appendicitis. The movie message is clear that God is in control no matter what, and you have to put his faith in him. The best line in this movie was from Grace’s father, played by Pat Boone, where he says, “During a test, the teacher is silent.” Shows that during our time of struggles, we may feel like God has abandoned us, but really He is testing our faith in Him, and if we continue to be faithful, he will deliver. Those are some powerful and very deep words.

The So So: That one scene where the student, played by Haley Orrantia, who asked the question to Grace, and started all the problems, just burst through the court doors saying what she really feels saying that her teacher did nothing wrong. Also demanded that she go up and testify since originally she was ordered to keep silent by a agreement her parents signed before the case. When that scene happen, all I can do was shake my head, and say was, “Really, that’s how it is going to go in this case?” It was like a soap opera scene with all the dramatics. However, when she did testify, it actually didn’t help Grace’s case. It actually made it worse, because she said that Grace has been teaching her about her faith even though it was outside school property. That too me was a good little twist into the story that shows not everything will go to plan, if you do things upon yourself instead of letting God lead. It did turn from a dumb scene to a another scene where it makes you think. Also both of these movies really made their antagonist really evil. Like the professor in the first movie, and how much of a jerk he is, to now with the prosecutor lawyer, played by Ray Wise. They made him really unlikable, and it is almost like the movie really wanted you to prove that this person is evil, and that’s it. It makes sense for the story, but really no type of development other than this person is bad. People may have their own beliefs that are not yours, but that doesn’t mean they are evil like how this movie try to do.

What I Didn’t Like: They had some plot holes like the Asian student Paul Kwo, played by Martin Yip, who started to become a believer, but is disowned by his father. They really never explained anything after that. Though it is a very interesting story. Also, with Reverend Dave who refused to give the courts his sermons of the last three months. They did show what happened after the credits, but it was like a Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) type of scene of him getting arrested, and pretty much setting up for God’s Not Dead 3. I’m not a big fan when the MCU does it, because it creates minor plot holes, but for this movie, it created a major plot hole. Lastly, this movie wasn’t shy promoting their Republican political party agenda. Talking about why church and state shouldn’t be separated (which I disagree to a certain extent), their stance against planned parenthood and even against Obamacare (Like really now, that wasn’t necessary), and even Mike Huckabee got a cameo in this movie which really made my eyes roll. As you can tell, I’m a liberal Democrat, and politics is what making religion now a not so big thing with our youth and young adults. Just because I’m a Democrat doesn’t mean, I don’t believe in God and Jesus’s teachings, which I believe the two movies try to make it out to people like me. Also, God never forces us to believe and have faith in Him, so why are they trying to shove it down our throats. Sometimes we need to find our appropriate place to minister, and let God lead you to do it. Not go out of our way, but let it come to us. I like the story with Grace as a teacher, where she innocently answered a question, but found the appropriate time to talk to the student about God. She didn’t force herself, her Christian demeanor showed why she is a good person, and why people trust her. That’s how we need to be ourselves, just live our lives faithful to God, and let God make everything fall into place. Lastly, did they needed to bring back the Newsboys singing the same song? Couldn’t they find a different Christian band (like Hillsong) to this movie.

Overall: Politics and beliefs aside, this movie can either inspire or reaffirm your faith in God, and why He is not dead. You may get something out of this, and that’s why I highly recommend it for people who does have just a little ounce of faith in God within themselves!!!

Rating: 4 Stars


(Sidenote: Shanghai- This historical movie starring John Cusack during World War II where Japan is overtaking China, and are trying to overtake the city of Shanghai. It’s about a CIA worker trying to figure out a mystery for the death of an American agent, and realized what really happened, and need to save this girl, played by Gong Li. The movie was interesting, but the middle part of the movie was really boring, but the ending kind of makes it worthwhile to watch at the very least. Shows a part of history we may not know much about, and that’s what makes it interesting!!!
Rating: 3 Stars)


(Sidenote: Rock the Kasbah- This movies stars Bill Murray as a struggling record label agent who one of his clients got a gig to Afghanistan. After experiencing trouble and has to stay there for a while, he finds an Afghani girl that can sing, and tries to put her on a Afghani version of American Idol even though what she is doing is against Afghani laws, religion, and customs. The movie was really weird at the beginning, especially seeing Bill Murray’s character acting weird for no reason, and the angle of him helping the military really made no sense. However, I really enjoyed the tail end of the movie where the Afghani singer shows courage and does what she always dreamed for, and become a singer. Probably the only thought provoking thing in this movie!!!
Rating: 2.5 Stars)


(Sidenote: Krampus- A horror comedy movie starring Adam Scott, Toni Collette, and David Koechner about a monster that comes for Christmas to families who doesn’t have faith in the spirit of Christmas. The movie reminds me of the horror movies of the 80’s where it is very over the top, and corny. It did have their funny moments, especially seeing them fight against live gingerbread cookies (yes, it is that kind of movie). Which also brings a lot of thought about family and Christmas. I’m just disappointed Krampus didn’t look that scary. If you’re into these types of movies, you all will love it. The campiness was just too much for my liking!!!
Rating: 3 Stars)


(Sidenote: My All American- This sports movie is about Freddie Stienmark. It is directed by Angelo Pizzo who wrote the movies Hoosiers and Rudy. It had the potential to be inspiring, but in the end it ended up to be a tragedy. It really tried to emphasize their tear jerker moments which to me took away all the inspiration this movie intended it to happen and made it kind of boring. Regardless, it had some great football action scenes, and some fine acting from Aaron Eckhart as Coach Darrell Royal, and Finn Wittrock as Steinmark. This movie was a little disappointing to me on where it went!!!
Rating: 3 Stars)


(Sidenote: Victor Frankenstein- This movie was directed very well by Paul McGuigan with the cinematography and set pieces. It also showed some fun acting between James McAvoy as Victor Frankenstein, and Danial Radcliffe as Igor. These two showed a lot of chemistry together. It seems like this movie had an identity crisis between a drama, horror, or action flick. Which made this movie underwhelming. It had some cool action scenes, but not enough to make their own incantation of the story of Frankenstein to really make it worthwhile to watch, let alone care. It had its bright spots, but not really great storytelling of this classic story!!!
Rating: 3 Stars)