Reviews of Christian films, particularly negative ones, have come to have the same dull predictability about them as the films themselves. Pure Flix’s sequel to its commercially successful but critically lambasted film about a college professor trying to bully Christians into denying their faith resets the front line of the culture wars to the high school classroom. Here it is the teachers and not just the students who are afraid to open their mouths. Critics have not been kind to God’s Not Dead 2; at one well-known review aggregating site, pans outnumber praises by a factor of nine to one.
The most common criticism I’ve heard about the God’s Not Dead films is that they distort the world they depict, appealing to their target audiences’ fears of being suppressed or silenced. If Jean-Luc Godard was correct in his assertion that the best way to criticize a movie is to make another, better movie, then the films on this list are perhaps better rebuttals to the Pure Flix franchise than would be another snarky column from a film critic.
Many of the films I’ve recommended here revolve around a central conflict created when a person or state tries to regulate, suppress or coerce speech. A few deal with the devastating impact that words can have—reminding us that the absolute freedom to say whatever we want rarely comes without the sort of absolute power that can tempt us to try to dominate or control others.
Most importantly, the bulk of these films are well respected by critics and audiences alike. Three are from Academy Award-winning directors. Another two feature beloved Hollywood stars in what are often considered their signature roles. One is autobiographical. Freedom of speech is an important, ...1