Going into any Christian movie I feel at least two things – hope and dread. I hope that the acting will not be too awful. I hope the story isn’t too cheesy. And I hope the movie is a good representation of the life that we Christians actually live. The dread comes in when any of these things makes the movie, at best, eye-rollable or, at worst, unwatchable. I have to say that this Christian movie offers none of these things – In my opinion, it is excellent!
The Case for Christ is a movie about the life of Lee Strobel an atheist-turned-Christian journalist, author and public speaker. The movie is based on his 1998 book of the same name that chronicles Lee’s interviews with experts from different backgrounds in an attempt to disprove Christianity.
The movie, set in 1980, starts when Lee Strobel, played by Mike Vogel, earns an award for journalism and he, his wife (Erika Christensen) and their daughter celebrate at a local restaurant. During the celebration, their daughter chokes on a piece of candy and a nurse named Alfie (Rose from the TV show Lost – L Scott Caldwell) saves her life. Alfie is a Christian and connects with Lee’s wife Leslie who has begun searching for some meaning in her, about to be a second-time mom, life. Lee is a pretty heavy atheist who loves his wife very much and in order to save her from the brain-washing that he is sure to happen soon, goes on a quest to prove that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is not true.
I enjoyed the movie for several reasons. First, I can’t remember any dread and, all the way through, my hope was validated. Second, The acting was pretty good throughout. No one seemed to be picked up off the street like in other Christian movies, in fact, the movie boasts quite a few recognizable actors. Finally, The 1980s setting vibe is excellent and the script is believable with minimal cheese. Most of all, the story is very compelling – even though everyone knows where it is going, it has enough suspense and drama to keep you engaged. Also, the “Christian” parts were not too heavy handed or unrealistic as with some films. I really enjoyed Mike Vogel’s acting and his coworkers were both recognizable guys right from your favorite crime dramas (Mike Pniewski and Frankie Faison) and really added to the story.
I originally read The Case for Christ shortly after it was released and found it very compelling. I did not know that so much evidence existed to support the resurrection and really enjoyed reading about it all. I especially enjoyed knowing that the information was gathered during Lee’s search to bolster his atheism. It was a compelling enough read that I ended up picking up a few of his other books because they were written in the same way, although after he came to Christ. Because of my familiarity, I was positively disposed to the movie from the start so I can’t say what others might think if they hadn’t read or liked the story before the movie.
My only real complaint about the movie is a SPOILER ALERT so you’ve been warned. Lee’s conversion seems to come a little too quickly at the end. I understand that during all his research his heart was being softened, but I remember thinking “Well, that was a quick turn around”. Whether or not you will feel the same remains to be seen.
From an alternative point of view, quite a few other folks didn’t enjoy the movie. Rotten Tomatoes’ reviewers only give it a 59% – they said it “should not be missed”, but that they “doubt it will convert anyone” (completely appropriate eye-roll). The funny thing is, the audience review is an 89% which is probably what I would give it. As to whether it will convert anyone, that is not the job of the movie, or in fact any one of us. Our job is to Love the Lord our God, Love our neighbors and do everything for the glory of God so that others might see us and seek to be saved.
37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[e] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[f] 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
– Matthew 22:37-39
31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
– 1 Corinthians 10:31-33