The average new release on Metacritic or Rottentomatoes.com has a healthy sampling of America’s reviewers weighing in on its merits. Chances are, you can find a review to your liking or that fits your tastes — since a lot of people actually look at reviews to find somebody who agrees with them about the movie they just saw — justifying their tastes, in other words.
But there aren’t even half a dozen “God Isn’t Dead” reviews up there. Why?
Well, I tried to reach Freestyle Releasing and Pure Flix last week to get a screener or screening of the film. Never heard a peep. Some studios aren’t really set up to make that happen in time for newspaper or others’ deadlines. Others don’t make the effort. I suspect something just slipped through the cracks, here. Freestyle I’ve had good luck with in the past.
On the other hand, faith-based filmmakers often don’t want criticism. For a movie that supposedly is about Christians welcoming an intellectual debate about their beliefs, this is the coward’s way out. Sure, you worry about getting a fair shake, especially when you have, as this film did, all sorts of prejudices about “elites” and the educated and media people. But there are a couple of positive reviews out there, none of them worth taking seriously (Variety’s just reacting to the box office, and pandering. They do that.).
Then there’s the backlash you get from criticizing a Christian film in this country. I can pan “Divergent,” which reached 10-12 million people this weekend, and maybe a dozen people will complain in the comments here on my blog (where I aggregate all my wire service reviews). Pan something like “Son of God” (I didn’t) or “The Nativity Story” (I didn’t) or “Courageous” (I did) and you get endless tirades about Godless media, and “liberal bias” and every other cant rant under the sun.
Is it worth it?
You tend to have to overwrite the review, covering a lot more theology and logic and the like than you’d prefer. The review feels labored as a result. All because you know the brimstone storm that’s coming your way from the Duck Dynasty set.
So maybe some people tried and the studio wouldn’t accommodate them. Maybe some critics didn’t note that “God’s Not Dead” had opened in their market. And maybe some said, “Simply not worth it,” because seriously, you can’t “debate” people who treat facts, reason, science and education as “opinions.” And who weight the pandering words of a TV preacher the same way they’d credit a Nobel Prize winner.
And speaking for myself, there is no point in arguing with people who use circular logic to try and argue that “You’re just angry with God” when you take issue with their name-calling because, well, shoot, everybody believes what they believe and disagreeing with them is disagreeing with a supernatural deity. That’s the way of madness.