November 20, 2017 – Jesus! That's what this film is all about. I went in thinking this was the documentary about scientists working on fusion power, but it turns out the description of this film at the Movie Review Query Engine was screwed up. This is a straight up movie about how Christianity is good and ISIS is bad. It spouts a stream of simplistic straw man, black and white arguments.
Kevin Sorbo (“God's Not Dead”) plays Dr. Sol Harkens “the world's most famous atheist,” an alcoholic, lonely, bitter, wounded jerk who makes a lot of money selling anti-Christian books. He is wounded because his son, David, died, and he blames God for his son's death. His long suffering wife, Katy Harkens (played by Kevin Sorbo's wife, Sam Sorbo, a woman by the way) prays for Sol, hoping he will change his evil ways.
Sol gets into an accident while driving drunk and has a near death experience. The special effects, a tunnel of videos, the white light at the end of the tunnel, are arresting. He sees his dead son, David, who tells him “Let There be Light.” Sol wants to stay dead with his son, but David tells Sol he has to return to the land of the living. Sol wakes up in the hospital and tries to continue on with his old life, but is haunted by this experience.
Sol talks to a preacher (not a priest) who convinces him the meaning of “let there be light” refers to Jesus Christ, the light of the world, and that Christmas is around the longest night of the year because of that light. Sol immediately converts to Christianity, stops drinking, re-marries his ex-wife, renounces his old ways and works to have everyone shine lights in the sky on midnight on the longest night of the year. He immediately stops being a jerk and becomes a really nice guy.
And who comes along to save the day and show everyone the light? Sean Hannity of course! The same Sean Hannity who is the executive producer of this movie, the same Sean Hannity of Fox News, you know, the network with all the sexual harassment problems, the one that supports racist politicians, and those with sexual misconduct problems, as long as they are Republicans and not Democrats. Hannity makes for a most unlikely Christian savior. At least that is funny. The only other funny thing in the movie is a “Hercules ” poster in one scene.
Singer Dionne Warwick appears briefly in the film, performing a song at a wedding. Singer Travis Tritt also has a small role in the film as a doctor. Tritt's appearance especially highlights the targeted audience of this film. Movies like this, even with a limited number of prints, tend to show up in certain areas of the country with favorable demographics, where they can perform quite well.
Everything is rushed in the movie, including the tear-jerker ending. None of these characters are really believable, but I have to give it up for Sorbo, he does a pretty good acting job, while playing a poorly written character. The arguments in the film about religion are very sketchy. Only two religions are even mentioned Christianity and Islam (ISIS is not a religion, but merely an extremely militant branch of Islam). This movie actually argues that those are the only two religious choices, ISIS or Christianity, really. None of the other 4,200 religions in the world are mentioned.
The movie also portrays Christianity as a really nice religion, practiced by really nice people. These are not the Christians who fire-bombed Dresden and Tokyo, the priests who systematically violated children in churches around the world, the Christians who eagerly fought in religious wars in Europe or in the Middle East, who murdered and mutilated women and children at Sand Creek in Colorado on November 29, 1864, or who used the Bible for hundreds of years to defend slavery and segregation. No, these are not those Christians.
I don't mind religious movies, as long as they are well constructed, like “Amazing Grace” for instance, or “Shoes of the Fisherman” (1968) from back in the days when Catholics were portrayed with some dignity in Hollywood movies, or the great documentary film “The Interrupters” featuring a real life hero, a Muslim woman who helps to de-escalate violent situations on the streets of Chicago. These are among my favorite films, regardless of subject matter.
This movie is strictly for Christian believers. I am not sure if Catholics are included in that definition. It sure isn't for Muslims, or Hindus or Buddhists, or Scientologists, or that new religion that worships artificial intelligence. If you are in the target audience, preaching to the choir, as it were, this film probably rates a B. If you are one of “them” (as in us versus them) this film is painful to sit through because your beliefs are belittled. For targets outside the film's version of the one true faith, it rates a D.
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