This one’s worth skipping.

I mean, it’s as good as these get.

Pure Flix Entertainment is one the most instantly recognizable film companies of our time in mainly the following respect: they really, REALLY want God to be real. If it also turns out they made a good, subtle, realistic, or even well-argued movie in the process of serving as their own confirmation bias, they just got lucky. In certain ways, I suppose this is one instance.

Unlike such Pure Flix productions as God’s Not Dead and God’s Not Dead 2: We’re Still Right, their 2017 piece The Case for Christ is based on a true story, and no, it is not the one you’re thinking of. It is about an American atheist and journalist who attempts to disprove the existence of Christ to his very religious wife, only to find that the stuff he learns pushes him more towards the side of faith.

Indeed, Lee Stobel is a real person (played here by Mike Vogel of Cloverfield fame) and he did conduct an investigation that ultimately turned him Christian, which he documents in his similarly titled book from 1998. His Wikipedia article is careful to point out that “The book does not feature any non-evangelical scholarly interviews”, which I think is useful information. Of course he addressed counterarguments in later books, though it seems to have taken place after his brain already finished cooking and his mind was made up – not unlike that which his movie counterpart accuses the wife (Erika Christensen) of.

Of course I’m not here to talk about the books themselves, but what they have in common with the film (aside from, y’know, all the content) is that they serve as another bombastic “told ya so” for believers. Just because this one atheist done goof’d (his first mistake was seemingly to believe that the burden of proof in the “Existence of God” debate was somehow on him), doesn’t mean all of us are conversions waiting to happen upon cherry-picked interviews and whatever else passed as research during this journey.

What?! No?? Didn’t ya see that one movie?!

I will say this about The Case for Christ: it is the most competently produced “Christian film” I’ve seen to date. The camera work is decent, the music is also enjoyable, and it benefits especially from the fact that it is based on a source material that features sentences that real humans would say. It isn’t just sanctimonious preaching interspersed with contrived attempts to make atheists look vile and in-the-wrong next to the enlightened (and usually more attractive) Christians.

Hell (and please don’t give me cancer or starve my family for using that term, Father), it isn’t even entirely bogus. The evidence for some sort of “historical Jesus Christ” isn’t as unconvincing, moot, or flat-out non-existent as the evidence that such a figure existed, came back to life, healed the ill, and somehow looked more like an American hippie than a Middle-Eastern carpenter.

There are some solid supporting performances as well, supplied by Faye Dunaway (glad to see she’s recovering), Mike Pniewski, Robert Forster, Frankie Faison, L. Scott Caldwell, et cetera. But is any of this enough to save a film that is as ill-conceived as the very idea of trying to meet a burden of proof one does not bear? Perhaps it will be for some. I would propose, however, that an exceptional Pure Flix movie does not an exceptional movie make.

Furthermore, if you’re in the same demographic as blasphemous old me, you’ll want something as insipid and unintentionally hilarious as God’s Not Dead or A Matter of Faith over generic stuff like this any day. As for those of you who were in some way offended by this review: rest assured that you can pray for my enlightenment whilst I pray that you one day learn how “extraordinary claims” work, more reliable ways to study history, and how to operate a light switch.

My rating and a trailer are posted below. I will try to focus my attention on more plausible scenarios after seeing this one, like a teenager with radioactive spider-blood who can swing between buildings for example.

2.5/5 whatever

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