A few years ago I watched Heckler, a documentary that aimed to tackle the thorny relations between stand-up comedians and the people in crowds who give them grief. But what started as an interesting watch soon devolved into bellyaching about critics. The makers of Heckler fell over themselves trying to show that critics are routinely unfair and unqualified to render judgement on the work of others.
That debate rages on even more today as movie blogs such as this one make up a growing crowd of film critics. I’m using that word in its broadest sense: true criticism disseminates a piece of work on its values and casts it through that lens. You don’t judge the new Justin Bieber album by comparing it to Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland.
Most reviews are just opinion, built around the notion that we all like the same stuff. That’s a whole debate on its own. But I have to admit this: movie critics and reviewers have saved a lot of us a lot of money by highlighting cinematic turds. Then again, often the peanut gallery gets it wrong: Predator, for example, was universally panned on its release.
Anyway, there are times where filmmakers decide their failures are due to these talking heads. Uwe Boll notoriously challenged his critics to boxing matches. Now Alex Proyas, director of Gods of Egypt, is also angry at movie reviewers. He made his feelings known in a lengthy Facebook post:
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.
It’s a pity Proyas never heard of paragraphs, but he makes a few good points. I tend to agree that many reviews today tend to turn into lynch mobs reflecting popular taste. Many reviewers certainly don’t give much respect to the art of film making. On the other hand, that The Revenant did so incredibly well shows there is still a high degree of respect for the art. (Then again, that Birdman was so acclaimed showed a gimmick can still carry a lousy script.)
But there is one way to know that Gods of Egypt is at least some kind of rubbish: Proyas asks:
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?
Yes, they do – and that Gods of Egypt had such terrible openings across the globe suggests they are not sharing favourable opinions either. Maybe Proyas is right in saying that it sometimes takes years for films to gain worthy reviews. I recently re-watched Aliens vs Predator and it is far better than I remembered. There, as one of The Movies writers pointed out during our water cooler discussions, is a classic case of hype and expectation overwhelming the final product.
On a side note, the story of Gods of Egypt is actually based on an actual Egyptian legend. It sounds like Proyas made a real effort with his film. Sadly a $140 million price tag and studio ambitions for a franchise appear to be good ways to kill the brightest prospects.
I haven’t seen Gods of Egypt, so I don’t know if Proyas is justified in his rant (though it could not possibly be as dull as Exodus: Gods and Kings was). Kervyn certainly didn’t like it, nor are audiences. So maybe he is misunderstood or maybe he is shooting the messenger. I guess time will tell.
Last Updated: March 3, 2016