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Second Opinion: ‘Sing Street’ Proves Not all Crowd-Pleasers Are Created Equal

sing street

As of September, my favorite movie of 2016 is John Carney’s Sing Street, a musical throwback set during the 80s boom in the U.K. Consider this my (late) review, perhaps made better by the fact that I’ve had months to process Sing Street and even revisit it.

For that reason, this is a Second Opinion, in the sense that I’m also forced to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of Sing Street against the critic community at large. And it’s not quite so clear where critics landed with this film.

At first glance, you’d think Sing Street is the indie darling of the year, maybe because of its high score on Rotten Tomatoes or if you’ve heard me gush about the film on Now Conspiring. But that’s not to say the film hasn’t received some tepid responses as well, with many critics both praising the film and undercutting it with the “low” side of positive scores.

From what I can tell, the main reason is because Sing Street commits a “sin” in the eyes of a lot of serious film critics: it’s a crowd-pleaser.

sing street

You’ve heard the term, but let’s be more specific. The idea of a movie being a crowd-pleaser is an underhanded compliment, meant to criticize the film for using familiar tropes to elicit a specific reaction from the audience. It’s also used to note a film that is essentially boring in its formula and afraid of taking risks. Relevant crowd-pleasers include the likes of Marvel superhero movies, nostalgic franchise sequels, and even Oscar-bait — those Fall films that seemed designed to do nothing more than win awards.

So yes, it’s pretty accurate to call Sing Street a crowd-pleaser, perhaps to an even heavier degree because the film it draws so much heart from is John Carney’s previous film, Once (we’ll just skip Begin Again for obvious reasons if you’ve seen it).

Yet Sing Street also makes the case for why some crowd-pleasers are far superior to others. At the end of the film, I did find myself realizing how loud Carney’s voice was throughout, and the heart of the movie couldn’t be clearer. It’s a film you discuss and analyze for its craft in filmmaking and how it made you feel. Lesser crowd-pleasers suffer from only having the latter.

sing street

Let’s talk about how the film is set up. Set in Dublin, the movie centers around the life and journey of Conor (played by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), a shy teenager who slowly cultivates a passion for music while attempting to win the heart of an older, beautiful girl (Raphina, played by Lucy Boynton). He starts a band in order to impress her, but the film splinters his motivations in a lot of surprising ways. Conor wants to break free of the rules of his claustrophobic prep school, suffer through his parents’ divorce, live up to his brother’s dreams, find success with his band…oh, and get the girl.

There’s real beauty in how simple the film appears, but it’s anything but straightforward. The film starts with a jumble of problems coming Conor’s way as he has to adjust to a new life at Synge Street, which is packed with bullies and a disturbing menace of a headmaster. But the moment he sees the girl, all those problems get thrown aside completely — a perfect capturing of what it’s like to fall in “love.”

That would be fine enough if the film didn’t also execute the rest of its content so fluidly and with so much endearing music (the soundtrack is sure to make an impression). There’s no crystallizing moment or raw talent in Conor that suggests movie magic. He starts like most other musicians and creatives: by ripping people off.

sing street

Eamon (Conor’s first recruit for the band, played by Mark McKenna) is the true prodigy, able to play multiple instruments and come up with the majority of the actual music. Conor’s brother (Brendan, played by Jack Reynor) mentors him on which music is worth mimicking, paving the way for Conor to gradually work his way to becoming a real musician. Even songwriting, Conor’s only apparent gift he’s discovered for himself, is only made possible because of, you guessed it, the girl.

Watching this creative process unfold as a love story is one of the most unique and charming experiences I’ve been entertained by in years. It’s a standout script with standout music and performances that makes it a crowd-pleaser for all of the right reasons, not the wrong ones. That’s not to say the film is perfect, and I could list several problems I have with the film, but at this point, they’re perfunctory and removed from what makes the film a keeper.

I think what makes Sing Street somewhat better than everything else I’ve seen this year has a lot to do with two reasons: for one thing, it transcends its genres (the comedy and romance never overshadow the darkness and melodrama). Second, the movie tackles a feeling that only movies can truly provide. And that’s creative spectacle unrestrained by a director’s heart.

Grade: A


Thanks for reading this. Seriously. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. 

Or just say hello on Twitter: @JonNegroni


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Snarcasm: The New ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake Is Amazing, I Promise

ben-hur remake

Snark + Sarcasm = what you’re about to read.

Sarcastically reviewing film reviews may sound like a total waste of time, but it has nothing on reading said sarcastic film review reviews. So I think you’ll enjoy this gem of a film review from that news outlet you’ve never heard of that has inexplicable access to Rotten Tomatoes.

That outlet is Baret News Wire, which describes itself on its own page as (and this is lifted directly from their site):

“Baret News  Wire is a Association of talented writers, and Social Media Professionals.  At”

We’re off to a great start.

Writing for BNW, Kam Wiliams recently “reviewed” the latest Ben-Hur remake, AKA the film classic that was already perfected in 1959, 30 years after the exceptional 1925 silent version, which was an adaptation of a book written in 1880. Who said Hollywood is out of ideas these days? They’ve been out of ideas for a while.

Ben-hur remake
Case in point.

Anyway, Kamtastic mysteriously titles his review, “Faithful Remake of Oscar-Winning Classic Revisits Biblical Themes and Breakneck Chariot Race.”

Yes, this noticeably leaves out the actual name of the movie, and as you’ll quickly find, Kamtastic actually gave this movie a perfect score (4/4).

Wow! Well, let’s read this review then, because that’s certainly the most contrarian opinion of this movie out there. You know, since even the most positive reviews by comparison are all closer to “meh” than “10 thumbs up!”

Fresh off his interview with Seth Rogen, aptly named “Rappin’ with Rogen!” (I’m not joking), Kamtastic kicks off his review with nothing in particular:

It takes a lot of chutzpah to remake the Hollywood epic that won the most Academy Awards in history.

It also takes a lot of chutzpah to use the word chutzpah.

But that’s irrelevant. What does Kamtastic think of the movie?

But that’s just what we have in Ben-Hur, a fairly-faithful version of the 1959 classic starring Charlton Heston.

Fairly-faithful you say? Well, is that good or bad? Should a film be faithful to a half-century old property or strive for something new? And if so (or not), what does that mean to the viewer?

I hope you’re not expecting any sort of answer to these obvious questions.

The films are based on Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, a novel published in 1880 which quickly surpassed Uncle Tom’s Cabin as the best-selling American novel to date.

Uh…OK. That’s definitely information, alright, but I’m not sure that has anything to do with—

The book’s author, Lew Wallace, was a Civil War General who had led Union soldiers at the battle of Shiloh.

…that’s great, Kamtastic, but maybe—

His inspirational tale of redemption’s success was credited to the fact that its timely  themes of family, freedom and patriotism helped unify a citizenry torn asunder by years of war and then Reconstruction.

That’s really nice, but can you start talking about the movie you came to review, now? Or how/why this is at all relevant? I would understand commenting on the 1959 film to lend context to your review, but going on and on about the book is like filming a movie about sharks inside a poorly-lit library in Kansas.

Its compassionate tone particularly appealed to Southerners, because of its sympathetic treatment of slave owners, encouraging resolution via reconciliation rather than revenge.

What is this, Wikipedia? If I wanted your surface-level book report on barely related (or interesting) facts that have nothing to do with the movie you just saw, I would go back to your Seth Rogen interview.

Next, Kamtastic finally talks about the movie!

Directed by Timur Bekmambetov (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter)

Keep it coming!

this incarnation of Ben-Hur stars Jack Huston as the title character,

…uh, he sure is!

although the supposed star is easily overshadowed by the film’s narrator, Morgan Freeman, 

Really? The main character is overshadowed by the narrator?? I know it’s Morgan Freeman, but shouldn’t you be complaining about this?

It doesn’t end there. Kamtastic goes on to list more facts about the movie you probably don’t care much about. He just mentions the casting and some minor backstory for each person of interest.

And this is all fine for a review, but we’re halfway through a review with a perfect store and Kamtastic hasn’t said a single insightful thing about the movie he supposedly loved. I’ll give him credit, though, for successfully translating monotone to the written word.

The plot thickens when the fully-grown Messala, by then a Roman soldier, unfairly fingers the Ben-Hur family for an act of treason perpetrated by

I can’t even finish this sentence. It’s just a paragraph that literally walks you through the crucial plot points of the movie. There’s no commentary. No language to paint these plot points in a way that lets us know how Kamtastic experienced the film. Just spoilers via run-on sentences.

And yeah, I get that most people already know the set up of Ben-Hur, but Kamtastic actually spoils one of the big reveals of the third act, just so he can stall from saying something opinionated or, dare I say, purposeful.

Before the review ends, and yes, it’s already over, Kamtastic wraps it all up with the most ambiguous piece of film criticism I’ve ever read out of a Rotten Tomatoes-aggregated review:

Distracting CGI mob scenes and heavy-handed sermonizing aside, Ben-Hur 2016 is nevertheless a very entertaining variation on the original that’s well-worth the investment.

Yeah. This perfect 4/4 film as graded by Kamtastic has a flaw for each nice thing he has to say about the film. Seriously, here’s what you just read:

Distracting CGI mob scenes? Well, it’s an entertaining variation on the original! Heavy-handed sermonizing? No worries, it’s well-worth the investment. Used car salesmen come off more sincere.

And that’s it! Kamtastic gives Ben-Hur a perfect score because…what do you care?! It’s not like his literal job is to share constructive opinions on the art of film, commenting on what it is about a given movie that makes it worthwhile or meaningful. This guy is seriously giving the Ben-Hur remake a glowing recommendation based on the fact that the narrator steals the show. I bet he lost his lunch when he watched Morgan Freeman play God on Bruce Almighty.

Now, I would never get on someone’s case for liking a movie, no matter how bad it is. But if they’re a person whose “grade” affects something as far-reaching and influential as Rotten Tomatoes, then they seriously need to give themselves a leg to stand on.


Thanks for reading this. Seriously. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hello on Twitter: @JonNegroni


The Big Friendly Conversation

big friendly giant

This week on the podcast, I’m joined by film critic, Will Ashton (who you can follow on Twitter here, and you should because reasons), to talk about The BFGSwiss Army ManThe Purge: Election Year, and tons more topics and distractions worth conspiring.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Which Ilvermorny house were you sorted in? (or which do you wish you had been sorted in?)

Go on…The Big Friendly Conversation

Snarcasm: I Review Movies Because I Hate Them

review movies hate

Snark + Sarcasm = what you’re about to read. 

Being a film critic is a tough job, mostly because you have to watch an endless amount of mediocre movies on top of all the ones you actually want to see. But we keep doing it for our own reasons; some critics enjoy the pure art of filmmaking and find greatness in even terrible stories.

Other critics, like me, care mostly about narrative, characterization, and cohesion. So you can read my reviews and get a sense for how I’m critiquing a film, and I even like bad movies from time to time when the story grabs me.

But then some critics seem to find zero value in anything that doesn’t align perfectly with a standard that’s alien to almost everyone reading the review. Hence, they write terrible reviews that leave us scratching our heads and missing the musings of Roger Ebert.

review movies hate

One such review is a write-up about Captain America: Civil War by Matthew Lickona on San Diego Reader. In it, he proves that less is not always more, like an entree salad without dressing or a review on Entertainment Weekly.

Lickona starts with a dependent clause (obviously):

A comic-book movie in the pejorative sense of the term

So right off the bat, he’s criticizing the genre itself. If he’s not a fan of comic-book movies, why be paid to review them, or want to be paid to review them? So people who were already uninterested have something to thumb through while NPR is reporting something interesting?

starting with the bizarre moral acrobatics required to set up the internal strife mentioned in the title.

Except the strife between Captain America and Iron Man has been building since they first met, and even before they met. It’s not “bizarre” or out of place because we’ve watched each of these character form the worldviews they espouse in this film in their previous movies.

review movies hate

Captain America is a skeptic of government intervention because of what happened with Hydra in Winter Soldier. Tony Stark is feeling guilty for causing the catastrophe that was Ultron in Age of You Know What. The only acrobatics that went on here were in the fight scenes, so can we talk about those?

Sure, members of the Avengers saved the world a few times over, but innocents died in the process, and so someone’s got to take the blame. Or at least accept a government collar.

Indeed.

Human computer The Vision must have fried a circuit explaining it thus: “strength invites challenge; challenge creates conflict; conflict breeds catastrophe.”

The Vision is neither a human or a computer. And he seemed pretty calm while explaining this, “circuits” and all.

Never mind that the Avengers were gathered in response to a threat, not vise versa.

In almost every cases, these threats were direct results of the Avengers’ actions, hence the whole point of this conversation in Civil War. Tony Stark becoming Iron Man kicked it all off, inviting the strength of Loki and his alien overlords who invaded New York. Then the creation of Ultron brought on another crisis, proving Vision’s point that catastrophic events have exploded (no pun intended) since the Avengers first assembled.

Oh sorry, was I supposed to never mind?

review movies hate

The red-blooded patriot Captain America holds to principle, but former arms dealer Iron Man’s bad conscience gets the better of him, and the conflict is, as they say, created.

So the plot being artificial is his point (I guess, because lord knows he won’t be going into depth about this). Except, like I said, this conflict was born out of previous threads in other movies, making it feel like an expected debate after the tension that began between Rogers and Stark back in Ultron.

(Just try not to giggle at the notion of the US Government gravely fretting over collateral damage.)

Whoa there, Huffington Post, no need to get political on us.

First of all, no. You don’t think that the death of innocent people at the hands of reckless metahumans in our own country (and New York City no less) wouldn’t sound the alarm for the government, let alone the UN? They wouldn’t “fret” as you say? That’s too much of a suspension of disbelief for you, what with their dropping a city from the sky a few years later?

review movies hate

If anything, it’s harder to believe that the world governments didn’t do anything sooner.

Anyway, let’s get back to this sunburn-inducing hot take.

Moving on to the tension-free spectacle of heroes punching heroes — lots of flying bodies, minimal damage done

It’s legitimate to point out that the hero vs. hero scenes have less tension early on because you can even tell that they don’t really want to hurt each other, which makes sense within the context of the story. But that’s discounting a wide swath of action in this movie that isn’t hero vs. hero or done with lighthearted intention.

(Spoilers for Civil War from here on out)

Black Panther really wants to kill Bucky. Those FBI agents really want to kill Bucky, and Cap has to work harder to make sure Bucky doesn’t hurt them too much. And at one point late in the movie, even Tony Stark and Steve Rogers look ready to kill each other. You really think there was no tension when Cap was about to bash the shield into Tony’s face after disabling his arc reactor? You got nothing from that?

And finishing with the final reveal of the evil mastermind’s absurdly convoluted plot.

We can definitely complain about how strangely detailed it is, but it’s still on par with other convoluted master plans like the Joker’s in The Dark Knight. Though Lickona probably hated that too.

review movies hate

While it’s a peculiar plan to wrap your head around, it’s at least worth mentioning that the ending subverts your expectations of the villain, his motivations, and how the movie plays out. You think it’s going to end with the heroes uniting to stop a bigger threat, but instead, the villain wins and divides them.

But no, the plot is somewhat convoluted, so the whole thing is worthless.

The jokey super-banter remains to provide comic relief, and there are one or two moments that really stick (Cap vs. a helicopter, Iron Man vs. his own rage, and hey look, Spider-Man!).

“I like some stuff in this movie. 1/5 stars.”

No seriously, that’s his rating.

But mostly, this one registers as sound and fury, signifying sequels.

Just like Empire Strikes Back, which ended on a cliffhanger. Obviously, a movie that spends too much time setting up for future installments, rather than providing a great story, deserves the criticism. But Civil War was far more payoff than buildup to something else, and the fact that it does at times lay seeds for future films doesn’t suddenly poison the entire picture, unless you let it.

review movies hate

Look, I get that Civil War is a flawed movie and it certainly isn’t for everyone. And I totally buy that Lickona thought it was a bore of a movie, and that’s fine. My issue is that his review completely ignores his readership, or an understanding of why people love movies. He’s actively misleading people by dishing out crude marks based on glorified nitpicks.

By all means, break the movie down and explain what the instruments are that delude you. Don’t just slap a 1/5 stars on your paragraph of copy and then make sarcastic comments on repeat.

So I’m left wondering why Lickona even reviews movies at all, based on the clear evidence that he seems to hate the vast majority of them.

What, don’t believe me? Here are some other films Matthew Lickona has rated 2/5 stars or lower:

 

  • Zootopia
  • Inside Out
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Dead pool
  • Whiplash
  • Birdman
  • Skyfall
  • The Martian
  • Sicario
  • Big Hero 6
  • The Good Dinosaur
  • Gone Girl
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past
  • Captain America: The First Avenger
  • Bridge of Spies
  • The Fault in Our Stars
  • The Imitation Game 
  • Wild 
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • Neighbors
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service
  • The Dark Knight Rises

And many, many more.

Guess how many movies he’s rated 5/5.

Right! The answer is 0. And this guy expects you to believe him when he says that Captain America: Civil War is a bad movie because something something pejorative.


Hey! If you’ve come across a silly article that deserves the Snarcasm treatment, send it my way via Twitter or the comments below!

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

 

Review: ‘Allegiant’ Doubles Down On the Worst Aspects of ‘The Divergent Series’

allegiant review

At first glance, Allegiant seems like an attractive step forward for the somewhat stale YA dystopia trope. It eschews the clunky “Part 2” title in favor of a final movie that will receive a new name altogether (Ascendant). And for a book series that has as many structural problems as Divergent, any change to the source material is welcome.

Unfortunately, Allegiant is just a bigger and more chaotic copy of the first two Divergent movies, narrowing in on many of the themes and plot dynamics that have repeated themselves constantly (seriously, how many characters in these movies need to switch sides for no apparent reason just to move the plot forward?)

Now that the factions of Chicago have rid themselves of the malignant Erudite, two sides have risen up to take control: the Allegiant, made up of the people who want to return the city back to five factions; and the factionless, who want to rid the city of this system altogether.

Rather than pay any sort of attention to the obvious war brewing, Tris (played here by a static Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James carrying most of this film’s better moments) gather their friends in order to escape the city in search of the people who put them there in the first place. Eventually, they come across an organization they learn is experimenting on Chicago in order to create a perfect human society. As expected, this comes at a cost that not everyone part of “Team Tris” is on board with.

allegiant review

What kept the first Divergent somewhat breezy and passable was its simplistic plot. You could explain in a few sentences who the main character was and what she wanted. With Allegiant, it’s exhausting trying to understand who any of these characters are, what they actually want, and what needs to be done. This is partly because the movie fails on almost every level when it comes to defining these characters’ motivations.

There is no clear motive behind the conflicts that occur between the various factions ranging from the Allegiant all the way to the Bureau. Exposition is provided of course, but the acting is so stiff and wooden, this dialogue sounds like more white noise piled on all of the nonsense spoken before it. The movie talks at the audience endlessly, but you never get a sense that the these characters are believably communicating with each other.

Four and Peter are notable exceptions, as usual. Their characters seem to have at least some coherent story arc that makes for some interesting drama. Shailene Woodley is mostly pushed to this side this time around, being forced to react tirelessly to the rantings of the Bureau’s leader, David (played by Jeff Daniels).

Some interesting sci-fi elements provide at least a little imagination to this dull, uneventful prologue to the final chapter, but even the production value seems to be slipping from the previous movies. Many of the effects look unfinished, and the attention to detail has never been so obviously lacking. Early on, a character is shot in the head at point blank range. A second later, we see his body dragged with the back of his head in plain view. There’s no indication whatsoever that he was shot.

Odd continuity errors plague Allegiant throughout, and they’re emphasized by an apparent desire to stretch the movie’s running time with pointless, lingering shots of characters either gawking at each other or staring at mundane landscapes. Strange, considering the film feels 30 minutes longer at just a minute past 2 hours.

allegiant review

It’s a shame because there are corners of this series that could allude to some interesting discussions. There’s much to be said about how trying to control the very emotions and genetics of human beings could be manipulated in order to build a peaceful society. But Allegiant lends no moral ambiguity to the villains of this film, instead forcing mindless acts of villainy coupled with repetitive betrayals in order to justify the direction of the plot. As expected, even the younger target audience is a bit too intelligent to get fooled by the artificial recipe of this unimpressive sequel.

Grade: D-

Extra Credits:

  • It’s no secret that I carry a lot of disdain for this franchise, as well as the book trilogy. Still, I can’t believe I expected more from a premise that boils down to someone being too special for a personality test.
  • Not even the camerawork gets a pass. At one point, the camera zooms in on a characters’ face and then abruptly shifts to a medium shot. It’s amateurish to the point of disbelief.
  • Shailene Woodley can, and has, done so much better. Here’s hoping she makes enough money from this franchise so she can go back to films that have craft.
  • Director Robert Schwentke won’t be directing the final Divergent film (he also did Insurgent). I’m glad because after this and R.I.P.D., Schwentke could use another Red.

Snarcasm: Critics Ruined ‘Gods of Egypt,’ Not the Movie Itself

gods of egypt critics

Snark + Sarcasm = what you’re about to read.

Remember last year when Josh Trank embarrassed himself via Twitter by dissing his own movie (Fantastic Four)  before it even came out?

Well, Alex Proyas, director of Gods of Egypt, apparently thought that his own airing of grievances over social media was a smart career move. Or he just loves one-upping Josh Trank, which may also be valid.

Gods of Egypt hasn’t been doing all that well at the box office since it opened two weeks ago. Deadpool (which opened on Valentine’s Day) is still outperforming it, which wouldn’t be bad news until you remember that the kid-friendly Zootopia is on the horizon.

At this point, Gods of Egypt has made about $40 million, which is modest until you remember that the film has a reported production budget of $140 million, not including marketing dollars (which tend to double that number). Worse, much of the money it has made is overseas, which the studio gets less of a return on.

gods of egypt critics

So unless the gods of the box office perform an impossible miracle similar to the final act of the movie we’re talking about, Gods of Egypt will be a big flop. And Alex Proyas took to Facebook recently to explain exactly why that is in the most eloquent way possible. Well, depending on who you ask…though that would have to be Alex Proyas.

No headline, but Proyas begins his rant with a killer summation:

NOTHING CONFIRMS RAMPANT STUPIDITY FASTER…Than reading reviews of my own movies.

Off to a great start. People who review Proyas’ movies are consistently stupid, and this is a confirmed thing, according to said director. Seems legit.

As someone who also reviewed Gods of Egypt (I gave it a C), I’m starting to wonder if I fall into the grace of Proyas’ approval, lest I be doomed to a life of moronity.

 I usually try to avoid the experience – but this one takes the cake.

This is coming from a guy who hasn’t made a movie in seven years. Saying “I usually avoid the experience” is like me saying “I usually avoid taking girls to the food court on our first date.”

Often, to my great amusement, a critic will mention my past films in glowing terms,

Well, some of these past films.

OK, like two of them.

when at the time those same films were savaged, as if to highlight the critic’s flawed belief of my descent into mediocrity.

This is a laugh for anyone remotely familiar with Proyas’ filmography. Dark City and The Crow are the movies critics reference most, and both received excellent reviews at the time they were released. His other movies — such as i, Robot — received mostly mixed reviews. They weren’t “savaged.”

And who today looks that fondly on i, Robot? Besides me?

The only movie “savaged” in his filmography is Knowing, which no one except for Roger Ebert thought was very good. Years later, this hasn’t changed in the slightest. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the magic of selective memory.

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.

That’s right. Proyas’ argument is equivocal to that of a temper tantrum.

“Only bad critics give me bad reviews,” he says. Or in other words, “Me good, no matter what bad man say!”

Sadly those type of reviewers are nearly all dead.

WOW. 

Good reviews often come many years after the movie has opened.

Let me fix that for you. Better reviews come out years after people have had time to think about the film, its impact, and how repeated viewings improve or worsen the experience. But that doesn’t invalidate the first inspection of a film. Critics are mostly judging the first experience because that’s what people read their reviews for. 

I don’t care if a movie that’s just come out will be more interesting ten years from now because it says something compelling about a culture point that may not have happened yet. I want to a watch a movie that’s competently made and will deliver a great experience in the theater.

 I guess I have the knack of rubbing reviewers the wrong way – always have.

But hey, that couldn’t possibly mean that there’s something wrong with you. That’s not how narcissism works, right?

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. 

Really? It’s idiotic to point out that your movie set within an established mythology is mostly casted by a single, unrelated demographic? To Proyas, we’re idiots for pointing this out, despite the fact that nearly everyone seemed to think this long before the reviews hit the web.

That’s not even mentioning the fact that most reviews didn’t even spend much time on white washing, if at all. In my review, I bring it up because it’s ultimately distracting to be watching a movie set in Egypt without anyone who looks Egyptian. It ruins the immersion of the movie, which hurts the overall experience of watching it.

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. 

Oh, we know what this movie is, Proyas. It’s an attempt to make as much money possible for the studio. Problem is, you thought you had to cast only white actors in order to do so, but it didn’t work. That’s not anyone’s fault but yours.

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? 

This oddly constructed sentence is an appropriate parallel for Gods of Egypt. It tries to look like it’s not out of touch, but everything presented makes it more obvious that it’s out of touch.

People don’t just text for information, Proyas. They use this magical thing called the Internet, which you’re using now. And while movie critics as we know them may not remain the same forever, it’s clear that the Internet isn’t leaving them behind; not when YouTube critics are gaining subscribers in the millions.

Besides, aren’t you undermining your argument that critics ruined your movie’s box office by saying they don’t even influence people anymore? Why write any of this at all if you sincerely believe no one will read reviews in the next few years?

Seems most critics spend their time trying to work out what most people will want to hear.

Finally, something sensible out of this rant. Yes, we can agree that a lot of critics form their reviews around groupthink, not real analysis, that forms before a movie releases. I wouldn’t say most critics do this, but it certainly happens.

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.

I think what this supposedly professional screenwriter is blathering about is how critics may read other reviews and blogs in order to form their own opinion. His evidence? Well, people don’t like his movie, so…

To him, it’s not because a lot of people have the same problem with a movie. Nope, because that would mean there’s a problem with his movie, and that can’t be right. Proyas is mad at the people who hate his movie, who then influence “deranged idiots” into hating his movie. But even if you’re right (and you’re not), that’s still a good chunk of people who still hated your movie before anyone else did.

There is something to be said about critics who go into a movie ready to hate it because the public hates it. Yet what often happens is the opposite, in that critics give a movie great reviews, much to everyone’s surprise. A good example is last year’s Paddington, which no one thought would be a great movie due to its bad marketing.

It’s clear that Proyas was wrongfully convinced this would happen with Gods of Egypt.

Lock a critic in a room with a movie no one has even seen and they will not know what to make of it.

Has Proyas never heard of a press screening? We do this all the time. It’s as if he thinks we write these reviews while conducting exit interviews simultaneously, despite the fact that most reviews are written weeks or days before the embargo lifts, and we spend most of that time editing our grammar.

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.

Again, you can argue that some critics do this (because human beings are human beings), but Proyas is trying to make the case that all critics lack the ability to criticize, which he has to say in order to justify why Gods of Egypt has an 11% on Rotten Tomatoes.

This is the logic of a narcissist incapable of admitting his own mistakes. After all, the diversity problem in Gods of Egypt is easily the least of its problems. Everything from the shoddy CGI to the middling performances screams of mediocrity, not some sort of hidden gem we’ll all be celebrating in 2026.

None of them are brave enough to say “well I like it” if it goes against consensus.

False, untrue, a lie, etc. Critics enjoy movies all the time that go against consensus. That’s why Gods of Egypt has an 11%, not a 0%, on RT. 

More recently, I gave The Good Dinosaur a perfect grade, despite everyone telling me I was “wrong.” Months later, I haven’t changed my mind, and critics everywhere do the same thing with movies that I don’t like. But in Proyas’ fantasy land, we all give the same reviews about everything somehow.

Therefore they are less than worthless.

No one can be “less than worthless,” but at least that sentence matches the rest of the logic in this Facebook post. Hey, and his movie, too!

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.

Wrong. Now that everyone can have a platform, competition is skyrocketing, pushing all of us to rise about the complacency that plagued film criticism in the past. Some people try to stand out by doing the opposite of Proyas accuses by liking a movie against consensus, even if they didn’t like it all.

In other words, Proyas can’t see beyond the issues that affect him and only him. Because he’s what, class?

“A narcissist,” said the children in Snarcasm Elementary School.

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.

This is all true, but just keep in mind that Roger Ebert was the about the only critic to give Proyas’ last film, Knowing, four stars. I wonder if that factors into Proyas’ belief that Ebert was the only good critic…

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.

Are you the dying carcass? Because it’s not our fault you don’t make a lot of movies anymore, and when you do, we don’t like them. That’s completely on you.

Or is “the dying carcass” your movie? Because if so, I’m glad we’re pecking apart a movie that was incapable of thinking outside of the pale-white action fantasy movies made in the 80s.

Or is “the dying carcass” the film industry as a whole? Because if so, your barely average movies aren’t doing much to make things better.

Also, we’re not that diseased.

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.

The false premise, of course, is that film-goers can only do this by burying their head in the sand, not reading the varying opinions of others. Oh, I guess they should just text each other reviews sentence by sentence instead.

I feel bad for Proyas because it’s clear he bases the value of his work on the opinions of critics, instead of his own fans who champion Gods of Egypt. For him, that’s not enough because a group of evil film critics are now conspiring against him (roll credits).

gods of egypt critics

Yet Proyas says nothing of the people who like something merely because no one else does, a practice just as dishonest as what he condemns critics for.

That said, critics aren’t perfect, and they’re certainly not my favorite people to mingle with. They can be cynical cockroaches, if you ask me and plenty others. But not all of them. Many critics put as much work into their criticism as anyone else who puts effort into their art.

Heck, it’s clear they work harder on their reviews than this lopsided, no line-broken block of Facebook post text that makes it clear that you must have at written Gods of Egypt in at least some capacity.


 

Hey! If you’ve come across a silly article that deserves the Snarcasm treatment, send it my way via Twitter or the comments below!

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

Review: ‘The Witch’ is an Unsettling Folk Tale Worth Talking About

the witch review

The Witch forces those who watch it to think deeply about what it all means. And many people will bicker over which conclusion they think their fellow moviegoers should arrive at after seeing it.

Luckily, my favorite thing about The Witch is how exciting it is to talk about it, and there’s much to discuss. Set many years before the infamous Salem Witch Trials, The Witch takes place in 1600s New England, as a budding family is banished from their Puritan plantation and forced to build a farm in the wilderness from the ground up (literally).

These devout Christians, led by patriarch William (Ralph Ineson), are strictly religious with their five children, especially when one goes missing early on. Haunted by a “witch of the wood,” and perhaps each other, the dysfunctional family experiences a haunting unlike most offerings you’d expect from the horror genre.

For one thing, there’s little left to the imagination when it comes to the film’s own paranormal threats, and it crosses disturbing territory that will be hard to watch for some casual horror fans. But they’ll certainly delight in the artistically frightening ambience of the crisp pilgrim farm, a ghastly soundtrack on par with It Follows, and beautiful scenery.

the witch review

What’s more interesting, however, is the film’s message, as well as all of the unique takeaways that will come from moviegoers of differing ideologies. Satanists have already praised this movie for coming across as “pro-witchcraft” due to the way the film ends, while theologists simultaneously praise the film for addressing the true dangers of said witchcraft.

For newcomer writer and director, Robert Eggers, that’s quite the achievement, as he claims in the credits to have based much of the dialogue and story on a collection of true events. And he manages to also bring out revelatory performances out of his child actors, of whom I’ll single out Anya Taylor-Joy and Harvey Scrimshaw.

Is it a cautionary tale about the demonic forces hidden from our sight? Or is it instead criticizing religious overreach, and how it can be the origin of the very darkness they fear? Some will argue it’s a little of both, and balance is truly the virtue we can derive from The Witch. I doubt there needs to be a right answer.

The Witch gets a B

It’s a good horror film with great performances and pleasant scenery. Its scariest moments will bring on disturbing nightmares and provoke the right kinds of conversations, but The Witch suffers a bit from an over-indulgence of shock value that will alienate more people than it will engage.

A lot of people will like this movie, especially hardcore horror fans. But if you don’t care much for scary movies or even this subject material (akin to Arthur Miller’s The Crucible), then The Witch probably won’t change your mind.

 

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