Opening weekend has not been kind to director Alex Proyas‘ Gods Of Egypt and neither have movie critics. The film earned a paltry $14 million at the box office domestically and another $24 million world-wide, and sits on a 12% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Deadpool remained the top film for the 3rd week and while Gods Of Egypt came in second, critical reviews for the film, along with the pre-release poor press about white washing roles will keep many movie goers from taking a chance on the film during its theatrical run. Over the weekend Proyas took to Facebook to vent his obvious frustrations about movie critics and the state of the critical Blogosphere industry.
*As the writer of this post, I would like to be clear. I have not seen Gods of Egypt and don’t plan on seeing it in the theater. Based on the trailers and my personal tastes, I figured this was one of those movies I would catch one lazy Saturday afternoon on Showtime or HBO when it hits TV or streaming services, but… we’re not talking about NerdBastards review of the movie, you can check that out here, we’re here to talk about Proyas’ thoughts on movie critics:
NOTHING CONFIRMS RAMPANT STUPIDITY FASTER…
Than reading reviews of my own movies. I usually try to avoid the experience – but this one takes the cake. Often, to my great amusement, a critic will mention my past films in glowing terms, when at the time those same films were savaged, as if to highlight the critic’s flawed belief of my descent into mediocrity. You see, my dear fellow FBookers, I have rarely gotten great reviews… on any of my movies, apart from those by reviewers who think for themselves and make up their own opinions. Sadly those type of reviewers are nearly all dead. Good reviews often come many years after the movie has opened. I guess I have the knack of rubbing reviewers the wrong way – always have. This time of course they have bigger axes to grind – they can rip into my movie while trying to make their mainly pale asses look so politically correct by screaming “white-wash!!!” like the deranged idiots they all are. They fail to understand, or chose to pretend to not understand what this movie is, so as to serve some bizarre consensus of opinion which has nothing to do with the movie at all. That’s ok, this modern age of texting will probably make them go the way of the dinosaur or the newspaper shortly – don’t movie-goers text their friends with what they thought of a movie? Seems most critics spend their time trying to work out what most people will want to hear. How do you do that? Why these days it is so easy… just surf the net to read other reviews or what bloggers are saying – no matter how misguided an opinion of a movie might be before it actually comes out. Lock a critic in a room with a movie no one has even seen and they will not know what to make of it. Because contrary to what a critic should probably be they have no personal taste or opinion, because they are basing their views on the status quo. None of them are brave enough to say “well I like it” if it goes against consensus. Therefore they are less than worthless. Now that anyone can post their opinion about anything from a movie to a pair of shoes to a hamburger, what value do they have – nothing. Roger Ebert wasn’t bad. He was a true film lover at least, a failed film-maker, which gave him a great deal of insight. His passion for film was contagious and he shared this with his fans. He loved films and his contribution to cinema as a result was positive. Now we have a pack of diseased vultures pecking at the bones of a dying carcass. Trying to peck to the rhythm of the consensus. I applaud any film-goer who values their own opinion enough to not base it on what the pack-mentality say is good or bad.
He followed up that post with this one:
Not real. But maybe it should be. Most are white and male, are they not? So as an Egyptian guy, being called a racist by some of these people makes me feel a little queasy.
You know it must be hard to be a movie critic these days. I mean you are subjected to movie after movie to review for a “cynical” public – several every week sometimes – it must really take its toll on one’s nerves. And then there are some movies which come along with bloggers already bitching about them so doesn’t it make things a little easier if you are struggling for something to say? Well why not just say what those bloggers are saying, even if they haven’t seen the movie like you have. That will result in a review that will be received well. Won’t it? Only the film-makers will be annoyed with you. Who cares about them.
This way of thinking is human nature I suppose – it does not surprise me in the least as the web and the Rotten Tomatoes school of criticism supports this idea of reducing someone’s work to a series of stars awarded. I for one do not care about stars. Nor is this my vendetta against all critics. I know there are ones out there who are brave enough to express their own opinions about movies – and I want to encourage them in any way I can to stick to their guns, even if I have to criticise the critics, which for an artist means you will be instantly labelled as “crazy”.
People think I am angry because my film was not reviewed favourably. But you see I do not care if the reviews are positive or negative. I usually don’t read them either way. And yes I generally take a fan’s opinion above a critic’s. My fans are quite honest with me and tell me if they like something or not. I respect that. And most importantly I can trust their opinion as it is coming from a real place. Nor do I mind the bloggers who criticise for whatever reason – even over the racial controversy. As I have already stated I have sympathy for them, though I do not believe I could have done more in this regards for reasons I have stated elsewhere.
What I’m angry about is consensus reviewing – and how it damages movie making universally. I question the motives behind many critics response to my movie in this case. Some reviews so perfectly reflect the opinions of “hate” bloggers before the movie opened. Wonder why? Bloggers shape critics opinions – there is no denying that – more and more so. And the first professional reviews of a movie can poison the well – so that people are frightened to drink from it. I have seen that happen to many of my friends films recently and particularly to many original fantasy movies released in the past few years. So studios will probably stop making big budget original fantasy movies altogether. As a fan of the genre I think that would be a real shame. And… funny how the people who love to be so negative about films are the ones who have the hardest time being criticised.
(New improved “Paragraphs” courtesy of Angelo Mike)
Here’s the $14 million dollar question… Is he right?
When it comes down to it, he accuses many reviewers of forming their opinions before seeing the movie. He’s right about this, it’s hard not to have some preconceived notions when we see so much on the internet about the production before we actually see the movie, but Proyas also asserts that many reviewers are writing reviews aimed at being popular, and not actually what those reviewers real opinions are. That second part is simply… stupid.
While the Internet is a cynical place, writers that write to be popular are soon discovered and just as quickly ignored. A reviewer that lays out their case in an original way and defends it with readers is what makes a reviewer popular.
Proyas also tries to make the case that movie reviewing is going to go away when Social Media platforms like Twitter start making an impact on how people decide to see movies. Sorry, but that has already taken place and one would gather that many who went to Gods Of Egypt over the weekend tweeted their friends to stay away and spend their precious entertainment dollar on something else. That thought is full of holes.
What is comes down to is did people who went to see the movie like it, or not? For most people, this is the path their movie going choices take.
- See the movie announcement and perhaps have some interest in the film’s subject matter.
- Casting announcements, the production casts someone you want to see or perhaps someone you hate.
- The trailer comes out, clips, or other production material and you either continue to want to see it or start to rethink that thought.
At this point most people will have made up their mind on whether or not they will see a movie in the theater. Only those still sitting on the fence, or those that have not heard of the movie yet or seen a trailer will be affected by any early critical reviews. Those reviews often only cement what that person is already thinking of the movie well before that opening weekend.