"God’s Not Dead 2" is the sequel to the surprise faith-based hit from 2014.
This time, there’s no Kevin Sorbo or Dean Cain. Instead, we get Melissa Joan Hart from "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" and Ernie Hudson from "Ghostbusters" leading the pack in this religious drama.
Hart plays Grace Wesley, a high school history teacher who comes under fire after answering a student’s question about Jesus. She’s eventually taken to court in a case that could end her career. She’s assigned a lawyer, a nonbeliever (Jesse Metcalfe) who’s determined to make sure she doesn’t end up losing her position or worse.
The movie divides its time between the court case and those pro and con to Grace’s scenario. It also involves a couple of subplots that do little else except attempt to keep the movie afloat. Martin, the foreign exchange student from China in the first film (Paul Kwo) has a series of questions for his pastor (David A.R. White) about Christianity, and there’s another subplot involving the Christian band Newsboys coming to the aid of one of their friends who has cancer.
I don’t want anyone thinking that I’m trying to make light of this film. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to make a film about God, faith or spirituality. However, like the first film, it’s well-intentioned, but it’s also about a subtle as a sledgehammer to the forehead, and the message is heavy-handed with enough force to give us a headache.
The actors do what they can, but the movie has little for them to work with. Just about every scene has a forced, overwrought message such as, "Atheism doesn’t remove fear; it just takes away hope."
Like last year’s "War Room," this is another movie that is much more interested in its message than it is in bothering to tell a story or give memorable performances, instead bogging down in bland and generic dialogue, or an ending that you can see coming from a mile away.
God’s not dead, but this series needs to be.
(Rated PG for some thematic elements.)
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.