God's Not Dead 2 (12A.)
Directed by Harold Cronk.
Starring Melissa Joan Hart, Jesse Metcalfe, Ernie Hudson, David A. R. White, Robin Givens and Ray Wise. 121 mins.
The courtroom drama God's Not Dead 2 is a testament to humanity's unlimited desire to feel put upon and hard done by. The story is about various white, prosperous, American Christians complain that they are being persecuted by the American government, a body made up almost entirely by white, prosperous American Christians. Asked an innocent question in class about whether there is a link between the non violent approach of Gandhi and Martin Luther King and the preachings of Jesus Christ, a history teacher Grace (Hart) answers the question a little bit too knowledgeably where upon a phalanx of evil, sneering atheists descend upon her and she finds herself on trial, accused of breaching the separation of church and state. Her persecutors are led by Ray Wise who, being both godless and a lawyer, is the epitome of evil: not content with killing Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks, now he's trying to lynch Sabrina the Teen Witch.
GND2 is founded on the notion that a war is being raged on Christians, but its premise is so extreme that even Richard Dawkins would think that this prosecution was absurd. That said, there were moments during the court case when Wise had me half convinced that maybe she was guilty: that even though she spends the whole film looking like an admonished puppy, Grace was using incredibly subtle manipulation. That is not something that the film would ever be accused of. It rigourously prods its audience along towards the desired emotion, and tells its target audience what it wants to hear. Outside the courtroom the Christian demonstrators sit in passive silence while the anti-christian campaigners, their faces twisted in hatred, scream at them and you think, that's not how it would be outside an abortion clinic.
This sequel is an example of a movement of faith based films aimed at an audience that it feels isn't catered for by mainstream media, which have been very successful in America. These films are usually criticised for being crassly emotionally manipulative, creating straw men to win their argument and being ugly propaganda. All of which, based on the evidence of this, is true. Watching it though, what struck me was that it was much like 90% of all films that come out of Hollywood, or most any other country. The only difference is that in this film it is a bit more blatant and unsubtle, but then as it is pushing a message of faith, and faith doesn't really tolerate areas of grey, that seems wholly appropriate.