Submitted By odie06
God's Not Dead is a 2014 Christian drama film directed by Harold Cronk, and stars Kevin Sorbo, Shane Harper, David A. R. Whiteand Dean Cain. The film was released to theaters on March 21, 2014, by Pure Flix Entertainment.
Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), a Christian college student, enrolls in a philosophy class taught by Professor Jeffrey Radisson (Kevin Sorbo), an atheist, who demands that his students sign a declaration that "God is dead" to get a passing grade. Josh is the only student in the class who refuses to sign and is then required by Radisson to debate the topic with him, with the class members deciding who wins.
Radisson gives Josh twenty minutes at the end of the first three lecture sessions to argue that God exists. In the first two debates, Radisson has counter arguments for all of Josh's points. Josh's girlfriend Kara (Cassidy Gifford) breaks up with him, fearing that standing up to Radisson will jeopardize their academic future. Ultimately, it comes down to the third and final debate between Radisson and Josh, who again both make compelling points. Josh then halts his line of debate to pose a question to Radisson: "Why do you hate God?" After Josh repeats the question twice more, Radisson explodes in rage, confirming he hates God for his mother's death that left him alone despite his prayers. Josh then casually asks Radisson how he can hate someone that doesn't exist. In the end, Martin (Paul Kwo), a foreign exchange student whose father had encouraged him not to convert to Christianity, stands up and says "God's not dead." Almost the entire class follows Martin's lead, causing Radisson to leave the room in defeat.
Against the backdrop of the debates, a series of peripherally related subplots develop. Radisson dates Mina (Cory Oliver), a Christian whom he often belittles in front of his fellow atheist colleagues. Her brother Mark (Dean Cain), a successful businessman and atheist, refuses to visit their mother, who suffers from dementia. Mark's girlfriend, Amy (Trisha LaFache), is a left-wing blogger who writes articles critical of Duck Dynasty. When she is diagnosed with cancer, Mark dumps her. A Muslim student named Ayisha (Hadeel Sittu) secretly converts to Christianity and is disowned by her father when he finds out.
After the final debate, Josh invites Martin to attend the Newsboys concert that is in town. Radisson reads a letter from his late mother, and is moved to reconcile with Mina. Amy confronts the Newsboys in their dressing room, only to admit that she wants to get to know God. While on his way to find Mina, Radisson is struck by a car and fatally injured. Reverend Dave (David A. R. White) finds him and guides him in becoming a Christian as he dies. Mark at last visits his mother, only to taunt her; she responds that all of his financial success was given to him by Satan.
As the film ends, the Newsboys play a video clip of Willie Robertson congratulating Josh. The Newsboys then play their song "God's Not Dead", dedicating it to Josh.
CastShane Harper as Josh Wheaton * Kevin Sorbo as Professor Jeffery Radisson * David A. R. White as Reverend Dave * Trisha LaFache as Amy Ryan * Hadeel Sittu as Ayisha * Marco Khan as Misrab * Cory Oliver as Mina * Dean Cain as Mark * Jim Gleason as Ward Wheaton * Benjamin Onyango as Reverend Jude * Cassidy Gifford as Kara * Paul Kwo as Martin Yip
The film also includes Cameo appearances by the Christian pop-rock band Newsboys and by Willie Robertson and his wife, Korie, of Duck Dynasty fame.
The film was shot from October to November 2012, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with the concert scene done in Houston, Texas.
Russell Wolfe, the CEO of Pure Flix Entertainment, stated that: the inspiration behind the setting of the movie dates back a few years ago. I was in a meeting at Pinnacle Forum and Alan Sears from Alliance Defending Freedom, was speaking. He was speaking about a young girl who was asked to do some things that went against her faith and got in trouble for not doing them. That story put my jaw on the floor and made me think about how many students go to college as a Christian and how few stay a Christian after they finish their four years. It was that story that inspired me to set the movie on a college campus.
GOD'S NOT DEAD
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Jeremy
College freshman Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper) signs up for a philosophy class taught by Professor Rattison (Kevin Sorbo). An RA sees a gold cross around his neck, warning him he should probably change classes. At the same time, we meet other characters - Amy (Trisha LaFache) is a liberal blogger that writes for her own site, The New Left. Her car was broken into and her GPS was stolen. Mina (Cory Oliver) is getting wine at the grocery store and then visits her mother, who suffers from dementia. She barely recognizes her own daughter. Ayisha (Hadeel Sittu) is a Muslim girl who keeps up appearances for her father, Misrab (Marco Khan). After he drops her off at school, she removes her hijab.
Amy finds Willie and Korie Robertson (of "Duck Dynasty" fame) going to the worship center. She confronts them with an impromptu interview, pressing Willie with questions about the devices he and his family are famous for that are used to inhumanely kill ducks, as well as the fact that they pray in each episode of their show. Willie tells her that they are nothing without their faith, and he invites Amy to join them, but she walks away.
In the philosophy class, Professor Rattison starts by listing the names of famous philosophers (Freud, Chomsky, Nietzche, Rand, etc.) and asking what they all have in common. It is that they were all atheists, and Rattison makes his own atheism clear. He instructs his students to write on a piece of paper "God is dead" along with their signature. Josh refuses to do so, being a devout Christian. Rattison challenges him to prove God's existence in front of the whole class, and if he is wrong, Josh will lose a big chunk of his grade. Josh tells his girlfriend Cara about this, but she doesn't want him to try to argue with anybody over the matter, saying his hopes to get into LAW SCHOOL could be ruined by this. Josh later goes to seek guidance from Pastor Dave (David A.R. White), who tells him to look at some Bible verses to find a meaning to his dilemma.
Amy ignores calls from her doctor and instead tries to focus on her blog and make plans with her hotshot boyfriend Mark (Dean Cain). When she finally does go to the doctor, he tells her she has cancer. She is in utter disbelief and tells Mark about it over dinner. He breaks up with her instead of supporting her since he is up for a promotion at work and finds that more important.
Ayisha is told by her father that nobody else on campus shares her views on God. At home, she listens to sermons by Franklin Graham. Her brother finds out and she urges him not to let her parents know.
Josh starts off his arguments in class by addressing the big bang theory and the notion that the universe doesn't simply exist because it has to, as certain philosophers or scientists have stated. In his words, it exists because that is the will of God, and to answer the question of who created God, Josh answers that God did not need to be created. Rattison fires back with A QUOTE from a philosopher that essentially states that there is no necessity for God. After class, Rattison threatens to ruin Josh's potential LAW SCHOOL career if he tries to make him look like a fool in front of his students. Josh later admits to Cara that he went through with the argument, against her wishes, and they break up.
Pastor Dave picks up his missionary friend Jude from the airport to take him to an amusement park, but his car won't start. They call for A RENTAL CAR, but that one doesn't work either. Jude suggests they pray to get their old car starting up again. Dave turns it on and it runs properly
During the next debate, Josh continues with the creation of the universe and defense of his beliefs when Rattison brings Stephen Hawking, an atheist, into the discussion. Josh shuts him down when he gives a quote from Hawking that states "Philosophy is dead". After the students leave, Josh asks Rattison why he doesn't believe in God. He tells him he opened his eyes to the world after begging God to save his mother from cancer when he was 12, but after she died, he gave up on his faith.
Mina speaks on the phone with Mark, who turns out to be her brother. He tells her he broke it off with Amy and that he is too busy to go visit their mother. After they hang up, Mina's boyfriend comes in: Professor Rattison. Turns out she was a former student of his, and despite their conflicting beliefs (she is also Christian), they have stuck together. They host a dinner party later with other atheist professors. Rattison seems to undermine and disrespect Mina, making her leave. She later breaks up with him in front of his colleagues.
Misrab finds out that Ayisha is following the Christian faith, and he forcefully, but regretfully, throws her out. She goes to the church where Dave looks after her.
In the final debate, Josh addresses the concept of evil being a result of free will, and not because of something God has done. By the end, he finally presses Rattison into admitting why he hates God. Rattison yells at him that God took everything from him, and he only has hate for him. Josh hits back with, "How can you hate someone if they don't exist?" This inspires every single student in the class to stand up and declare "God is not dead." Later, Josh is approached by his classmate Martin (Paul Kwo), who had been following Josh's mission and had issues with his father's own denial of God. Martin was impressed with Josh in class and has decided to follow God. Josh invites him to hang out.
Mark visits his mother and asks why someone as nice as her should suffer while someone as mean as him should have such a fulfilled life.
Rattison reads a note from his mother that she left him before her passing. She wrote to him that even though she was sad to know that she would not live to see him grow, she knew it was part of God's plan and she hoped he would follow it.
Josh takes Martin to see the Christian rock group Newsboys in concert at a stadium. Also attending are Ayisha and Mina. Amy goes to interview the group and ask them how they can believe God and Jesus are as real as they are. The band members tell her that they believe because it gives them hope. She tells them she is dying, and they sit down to pray with her and give her the faith she wants to have.
Dave and Jude are stuck in traffic right before the stadium where the concert is held. Rattison walks by as it starts raining and he is struck by a car. The pastor and missionary run out of the car to tend to him and call an ambulance. Jude says that Rattison's ribs are crushed and that his lungs are quickly filling up with blood. Dave asks Rattison if he wishes to be saved. Rattison admits he is scared, but Dave assures him that in a few minutes, he will know more about God than anybody else. Rattison repents and accepts Jesus right before dying.
The Newsboys take the stage and play their songs. In the middle of the show, the band plays a video from Willie Robertson, who addresses the debates going on at the university (they never directly mention Josh, but they know of him), influencing everybody in attendance to text everyone they know saying "God's not dead." The band then plays their song "God's Not Dead" as everybody sends the message. Ayisha sees Josh and asks him if he's the one they're talking about. He says yes. The loved ones of the characters (Martin's dad, Mark, and even Rattison) receive the text messages.
The film closes with a text to inspire viewers to join the movement and sends the same message to their loved ones. The text also says the film was inspired by true debates in universities across the nation.
Miracle cell no. 7
Miracle in Cell No. 7 tells a much more intimate story that knows exactly which strings to pull in order to deliver both a heartwarming testament to the tenacity of the human spirit, as well as the saddest story ever told. Though its overall message is positive if not distinctly bittersweet, it seems a fair warning to potential audience members experiencing a rough patch or those with fluctuating views on the state of humanity that this may not be the right movie for you.
On the other hand, maybe this is the perfect movie for you, since it could very well restore your faith in your fellow man and/or give you the good cathartic cry you’ve been needing. Personally, I’m torn between loving everything about the film and feeling irrationally angry toward it for making me sob piteously for hours. To put that in perspective, at the time of writing this review (nearly a day later), my eyes are still puffy enough to suggest that there’s been a death in the family. Try seeing how sympathetic someone’s ear remains when you explain away your tear-streaked face as being the result of a sad movie and not a life-threatening and/or otherwise horrible situation. The result is not pleasant.
The story revolves around the relationship between a mentally challenged father and his daughter when he’s falsely accused of murder and incarcerated. During his time in prison he’s met with hatred and scorn for the perceived terribleness of his crime, which not only includes killing a little girl (who so happens to be the police commissioner’s daughter), but of cruelly kidnapping and molesting her as well.
Perhaps because the dead little girl is the daughter of such a prominent man does the case fly through the courts without anything resembling due process, and it’s as if no one realizes that the perpetrator lacks the mental faculties needed to represent or stand up for himself when everyone is against him from the start—even including the policemen and lawyers whose job it is to assume his innocence. Instead, they work only to prove his guilt, because there’s literally nothing to stop them. Especially not the law.
What follows is a story that takes place in two time periods. There’s the modern storyline, where the father’s grown-up daughter works as A LAWYER to clear his name—though that takes up far less screen time than the flashback to 1997, the year that her father was accused and imprisoned in Cell No. 7. It was there that he met the cellmates who would become not only his friends but also family to him and his daughter after they devise an (admittedly improbable) plan to sneak her into the prison. Soon the entire prison population joins in the effort to try and save the innocent man from being executed, culminating in a heart-rending and revelatory masterpiece which manages to shine a spotlight on humanity at its best and at its unbelievable, infuriating worst.
Ryu Seung-ryong plays YONG-GU, a man with the intelligence of a child but whose world revolves around his young daughter. She, on the other hand, has been forced by circumstance and unconditional love into becoming the parent of their little family, no matter the fact that she’s only a child. She manages the household finances, pays the bills, and keeps her dad on track for the simple job he holds in order to keep the pair of them afloat. They’re poor but happy, and one of their daily activities is to visit a storefront with a coveted Sailor Moon backpack on display which he desperately wants to buy for his daughter, since she adores the series.
Then one day the backpack is bought, and Yong-gu is hit by the father of the little girl who bought it as Yong-gu innocently insists, through his stuttering, that the bag belongs to his daughter. Afterward, Yong-gu is no less intent on buying the bag for his daughter’s first day of school, so when the well-meaning and bag-owning little girl offers to take Yong-gu to another store which sells it, he follows her until he hears a sudden and short scream.
He ends up finding the girl lying in the street with a head wound, and doesn’t understand enough to know that she’s dead. He only knows the CPR routine that his EMPLOYERS TRAINED him in, so in his efforts to revive the girl he looks as though he’s molesting her—which is exactly how he’s found. But since the dead girl was the police commissioner’s daughter, Yong-gu is unfairly put on the fast track through the justice system and is coerced, sometimes violently, into giving a false confession that he killed her. In truth, the poor man just doesn’t know any better, and doesn’t even know enough to understand his situation. He can’t defend himself, and worst of all, no one who should seems to care.
Enter Yong-gu’s daughter, YE-SUNG (Kal So-won as a child, Park Shin-hye as an adult), whom we first meet as a grown-up lawyer trying to prove her father’s innocence in court. In the present, she’s able to look back on all the evidence and prove just how faulty and wrong it all was, but she’s unable to change the past. Yong-gu had no such defender then, which is why he went straight to jail to await sentencing.
In both incarnations, Ye-sung is nothing but devoted to her father, and gets the chance to see him in prison when his cellmates sneak her in from a Christian ministry event (there’s a recurring joke about how Ye-sung’s name is pronounced the same way as “Jesus” is in Korean) hosted by the orphanage she’s sent to. In saving the life of one of his gangster cellmates from getting shanked, Yong-gu earned the favor of getting to see her.
What’s meant to only be a short visit turns into an EXTENDED STAY, as Yong-gu’s cellmates realize that it’s much easier to sneak her into prison than it is to sneak her out. Unlike Yong-gu, each of his cellmates is an actual criminal, though they’re painted as big ole teddy bears who become little more than putty in Ye-sung’s small hands. Even when she colors in a Sailor Moon outfit over one of their naked centerfold girls (hah), they can’t even hold it against her.
They get a little family going, with all the cellmates acting like uncles to her and hiding her (since it’s their hides on the line too), but the charade only lasts for so long. They’re eventually discovered by the prison’s CHIEF JANG (Jung Jin-young), who harbors no good will toward Yong-gu, whom he assumes is guilty of his crimes. And while it’s not made explicitly clear, it’s hinted that the chief had a young son he lost, which is likely why he finds Yong-gu’s crime of killing a child so heinous.
But after a prison riot erupts upon discovering Ye-sung, Yong-gu doesn’t hesitate to save the chief from a burning room. Obviously, Yong-gu doesn’t save people with any other intention but saving them, so it’s not like he throws his life on the line to move the chief’s heart—he’s not aware enough to think that way, which only goes to prove how truly good-hearted Yong-gu is and how he’d never even hurt a fly, much less a human.
Chief Jang starts to suspect the same after his brush with death, and goes from being one of Yong-gu’s undeserved enemies to a worthy ally, even if the power he holds can’t match the police commissioner’s determination to see Yong-gu pay dearly for his crime. But like Yong-gu’s fellow prisoners, Chief Jang soon figures out that Yong-gu couldn’t have committed the crime he’s accused of, and joins in the effort to try and give him a fighting chance at his trial. He’s also so moved by the relationship between Ye-sung and her father—especially when she goes on a hunger strike as a form of protest—that he not only begins to allow Ye-sung to visit, he actually facilitates her visits by picking her up from school only to drop her off with her prison uncles.
Speaking of, the order of uncles from left to right goes: Leader SO YANG-HO (Oh Dal-su) doing time for smuggling, Elder SEO (Kim Ki-cheon) for insurance fraud, SHIN BONG-SHIK (Jeong Man-shik) for unknown crimes, KANG MAN-BUM (Kim Jung-tae) for adultery, and last but certainly not least, CHOI CHUN-HO (Park Won-sang), for swindling.
Little Ye-sung brings joy into each of their lives with understanding far beyond her years, as she does good deeds like teaching the illiterate Leader So how to read and smuggling aCELL PHONE in so Bong-shik can call his pregnant wife. They’re as real a family as any.
What’s perhaps the hardest aspect of the story to swallow is how cruel the system is to Yong-gu, and how completely and willfully BLIND it is to his inability to stand trial. We’re aware that this is a personal issue to the police commissioner, but it becomes difficult not to hate him when he refuses to take Yong-gu’s state of mind into account and wants him declared guilty no matter what.
There are laws today that protect the mentally incompetent from this kind of treatment, especially if they’re unable to even understand what they’re being accused of—which seems to be the case with Yong-gu. I’m no expert on the Korean criminal system of the late 1990’s, but the way it’s painted here makes it seem like a literal Dark Age for CSI and due process, never mind that protections for the intellectually infirm have roots going all the way back to the Code of Hammurabi. But for whatever reason, we have to assume that the code of law was easy to manipulate before the year of our lord 2013, even if the injustice of it all is rage-inducing. No wonder why Ye-sung grew up to become
And because they’re family, there comes a point where all the uncles band together to help Yong-gu for his upcoming trial, playing out the crime scene with all its possible results until they can glean what actually happened (since Yong-gu can’t paint a full picture for them). They finally come to the conclusion that the little girl he’s accused of killing merely slipped on ice and hit her head. It wasn’t even a murder, it was just a terrible ACCIDENT.
Since they can’t accompany Yong-gu to his trial, they spend countless hours drilling him on what to say to the judge and just how to profess his innocence. They work around Yong-gu’s learning disability by drilling him at all times of the day to test his readiness, and by having him memorize a statement as best he can. Even Chief Jang gets a petition from the prisoners together to give to Yong-gu’s public defender, only to be disgusted when the lawyer proves he has no intentions of protecting Yong-gu or fighting for a fair trial.
I went into this movie completely BLIND, knowing only that Ryu Seung-ryong was starring and that it would be about a group of men in prison. Looking back now, I can’t pinpoint which moment it was where I realized, truly realized, that this is the kind of movie that breaks people.
That’s not as negative as it sounds, though it certainly is something not every movie achieves or even aims for. It tells a story that has the power to move and transport its audience, even with all the improbabilities of having a little girl traipsing in and out of a prison or a justice system so skewed it can’t possibly be real. I had considered covering my behind by giving the disclaimer that you’re not a robot if you could watch this film and feel nothing, but I’d also be really curious to know if anyone who watched became disengaged because they felt manipulated.
Every emotional moment feels engineered to fill our hearts and take our tears, sure, but there’s no result or truth the movie comes to that feels disingenuous to its fully-realized world and characters. There’s nothing preventing us from following Yong-gu, little Ye-sung, all the prison uncles and even Chief Jang on their separate but connected journeys—even if the emotional wallop hits close to home. Like all the characters come to realize, Yong-gu is a wonderful man and an even better father, someone worthy of living a full and happy life. That’s what inherently makes the basic premise of this film so heartbreaking out of the starting gate: that we know Yong-gu is imprisoned for something he not only didn’t do, but couldn’t have done.
Ryu Seung-ryong has been a versatile staple of many recent successful films likeGwanghae, The Man Who Became King, Bow, The Ultimate Weapon, and The Front Line, but his masterful performance as an intellectually-disabled, goodhearted father is perhaps his most defining role to date. He injects such sensitivity and warmth into a character who’s barely able to voice his own thoughts beyond a single, stuttered sentence at best—and muted, dense silence at worst.
Perhaps most striking about Yong-gu as a character was watching how hard he tried to understand and comprehend, since the moments which really stayed with me after the movie ended were his moments of clarity. The very look in his eyes would shift and change when he could grasp just enough of any given situation to make decisions based on the person he loved more than anything and would give anything for: his daughter.
In that sense, this is a love story, pure and simple. Whether it’s the deep and palpable love keenly felt between father and daughter or between Yong-gu and his cellmates and prison guards, each of these different kinds of love are explored in beautiful and unabashedly human detail. If I had to name only one reason why this movie was such a complete success, it’s that the act of watching it becomes more than just a spectator sport. To watch it is to experience it. And I can think of no better reason to go to the movies than that.