After watching the first two films in the God’s Not Dead series, I was really looking forward to God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness. I enjoyed the second film better than the first, and I was hoping the third one would follow suit and top the second. It didn’t. Don’t misunderstand me, I enjoyed the film and think it’s a good one to watch. I just didn’t think it was great. In other words, it’s a movie better suited for a Redbox DVD rental than the high price of a theater ticket. There is, however, one major moment in the film that is an absolute must-see for any serious God’s Not Dead fans.
God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness centers on series regular, Reverend Dave Hill (David A.R. White), as he fights to save his church. The University, whose land the church sits on, wants to remove it due to the controversy that surrounds both Christianity and Hill. Hill is aided in his fight by his lawyer brother, Pearce Hill (John Corbett), who happens to be an atheist. Along the way, we see college students Keaton (Samantha Boscarino) and Adam (Mike C. Manning) struggle with faith and guilt. God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness also stars Shane Harper (God’s Not Dead, Good Luck Charlie), Ted McGinley (Pearl Harbor, Do You Believe?), Jennifer Taylor (Two and a Half Men, Shameless), Tatum O’Neal (The Bad News Bears, Rescue Me) and Benjamin A. Onyango (God’s Not Dead, Tears of the Sun).
Ninety percent of the action in the film is in the beginning. Rev. Hill is in jail, the University wants to remove the church from the school grounds, and there is a massive explosion in the church which is followed by the most emotional scene in the film (I won’t give it away). At this point, I was totally enthralled in the story and couldn’t wait to see what else was in store. Unfortunately, that’s when the writers decided to slow the story down…a lot. The last two-thirds of the film consisted almost entirely of deep discussions. There were deep conversations between Hill and his brother, between Keaton and Adam, between Keaton and Hill, between Keaton and Josh Wheaton, between Hill and Rev. Dial, and so on and so forth. It was at this point that the theater seating was beginning to feel really comfortable and my eyelids really heavy.
To be clear, I didn’t fall asleep. I could have, though. Especially since the few moments that weren’t filled with deep conversation were filled with watching the characters struggle with internal emotions. While internal struggle can add a meaningful and beautiful layer to a storyline, it really should be used as a highlighting note and not as the melody.
In terms of the acting and cinematography, I have no complaints. I thought everyone cast in the film did an excellent job. There were a few scenes that were so well done that I found myself wiping away a few pesky tears and hoping the theater lights wouldn’t come on too soon.
Another part that I really liked were the credits. No, I’m not saying that in a snotty-sarcastic way. I was genuinely pleased with how they formatted the credits. They listed everybody in alphabetical order instead of the traditional, “let’s list the most important people first,” approach. Hollywood is filled with egos. So much so that movie sets have people line up in order of their importance just to get lunch. Speaking as someone with on-set experience, I can honestly tell you that the emotional mixture of superiority and inferiority among cast and crew is palpable. Therefore, I was really touched to see this gesture of inclusiveness extended to the entire cast who made the movie possible.
WHAT AGE GROUP IS IT FOR?
To give it a standard rating, I would say it should fall in the PG-13 category. It deals with some adult topics including arson and death. The visuals of these scenes alone might be a bit much for a young audience. More specifically, I would reserve this film for college age and older. That’s really the demographic the movie is made for and to whom most of the conversations are geared.
LOOKING TO SHOW IT AT CHURCH?
This isn’t a bad film to show at church, but it would be best shown in conjunction with the first two. This is because there are numerous references to the past two films that a new audience really isn’t going to understand. Therefore, my suggestion would be to use it in a God’s Not Dead movie marathon or weekly movie discussion. If you want to use clips from the movie, the main messages it can contribute to are that of forgiveness, turning the other cheek, showing love to others, and the importance of communication with the Lord.
I would like to end this review with my favorite quote from the series: “God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.”