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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

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The Ultimate Pixar Movie

ultimate pixar movie

This week on the podcast, we each pitch what we think would be the ultimate Pixar movie. Creativity somewhat included.

We also review Gods of EgyptEddie the Eagle, and Fuller House (sort of). I’m joined by illustrator Kayla Savage, film writer Adonis Gonzalez, YouTube personality Maria Garcia, and a surprise guest…

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Do you think the Oscars matter? Also, what should we name our Pixar movie?

Go on…The Ultimate Pixar Movie

Review: ‘Gods of Egypt’ Is a Lot Better Than It Should Be

gods of egypt review

Directed by Alex Proyas, Gods of Egypt is a summer blockbuster conspicuously vying for your attention at the tail end of winter. Had this film been released in July, its long running time and frenetic fantasy set pieces may have been found a larger audience, and deservedly so.

Gods of Egypt is a reimagining of the Egyptian mythology as if it was reality (though the true mythology is hardly represented here), where the aforementioned state is the center of a flat earth guarded by Ra, the God of light, who must fight off an otherworldly demon “night after night.” One of the charms of Egypt is watching some of these outlandish concepts come to life in bold, albeit cheaply looking, ways.

The gods of this mythology live alongside the humans, and a hostile takeover by the king’s jealous brother (Set, played by Gerard Butler) throws the entire land into chaos. With the help of a plucky mortal thief, the king’s son (Horus, played by Nicolaj Coster-Waldau) must regain his godly powers stolen by Set and take his rightful throne.

Strangely, the plot is a clumsy patchwork of familiar 90s Disney movies, including The Lion King’s plot surrounding a banished prince losing the throne to his uncle, Aladdin as an Egyptian street rat, and some shades of Hercules, with one of the love interests being tied to the underworld.

In fact, the only character who feels unique and somewhat authentic for the African setting is played by Chadwick Boseman, a superb actor who delivers a sadly atrocious performance here.

Much of Gods of Egypt feels like a video game ripped out of a PlayStation 2, with frequent puzzles, fetch quests, and high-concept battles interspersing a world that feels massive and mysterious. But also like a video game, Gods of Egypt is filled with shoddy and even jittery cut scenes that are inexplicable for a movie that cost $140 million to make.

Alex Proyas is probably best known for Dark City, and though he wasn’t one of the writers for Gods of Egypt, his unique vision is still apparent in the script. The movie itself is rarely plain, and when it swings wide, it sometimes hits big. But many other times, the film misses greatly, and your odds of finding charm in its brazenness is about 50/50.

Perhaps if the Gods of Egypt embraced its clunky nature and dated visual style, it would be easier to recommend as a low-budget fantasy inspired by Immortals or Clash of the Titans. Though while it’s certainly more watchable than Wrath of the Titans, this is a fantasy epic you’re probably better off streaming at home.

Grade: C

Extra Credits:

  • Gerard Butler is great when he embraces true villainy, but his work in Egypt is weirdly restrained, as if the director cared more about us sympathizing with Set than fearing him.
  • Nicolaj Coster-Waldau is one of the weak points of the film. He gives it his all physically, but he’s not even trying to act beyond Jamie Lannister territory.
  • One of the film’s major failures is lack of immersion early on. It takes a while for you to shut out the fact that no one in the film appears or speaks like an Egyptian. The cacophony of varying European accents don’t help either.
  • Certain aspects of this film are really quite good, thanks to some of the visual imagery and absurd mythological concepts being brought to life. And I was massively entertained enough to overlook some of the movie’s silliness. This “B” movie is frankly only downgraded because of its rushed third act and bad effects.
  • Why am I a sucker for the Hero’s Journey? For whatever reason, I’m never fatigued by this, but if you are, then Gods of Egypt will do you no favors.
  • The film’s biggest flaw? Easy: if you’re going to go all out with Egyptian mythology, why not use it? Barely anything in this film flows from what is actually a fascinating universe of gods, instead sticking to Greek mythology cliches for whatever reason.

 

No More Questions: Gerard Butler from ‘Gods of Egypt’

gerard butler interview

Welcome to No More Questions, where I ask the actors you know and love everything you want to know and love…

This week, let’s give a big round of Internet applause to sometimes-celebrated actor, Gerard Butler!

*Note: No More Questions is satire. It does not reflect the actual views of Gerard Butler, Jon Negroni, or anyone else mentioned in this interview. Some of the content in this interview comes from actual quotes by Gerard Butler in 2016. Seriously. 

JN: Can I call you Gerry? 

GB: No.

JN: Gerry, your new film, Gods of Egypt, premieres this Friday — or Thursday depending on how optimistic you are about people seeing it. Are you happy you made this movie? 

GB: Yeah.

JN: Really? There’s been some controversy…

GB: Well, I just want to point out—

JN: —surrounding your surfing incident in 2012.

GB: Oh, that. Well, I’m clean now, so…

JN: And we’re all happy about that. Do you think it affected the quality of Chasing Mavericks overall?

GB: You…you saw Chasing Mavericks?

JN: Next question. People are saying that it’s odd for you to be playing an Egyptian God thing considering your non-Egyptian likeness. 

GB: Well, Gods of Egypt is mythology. Not historical fiction.

JN: Please, Gerry, we all know what this is about. How long has this feud between you and Joel Edgerton been going on?

GB: I just don’t understand why he gets a pass for playing Ramses. He’s Australian, which is way farther from Egypt than Scotland.

JN: Well, he did also make The Gift, so I think we like him again. What would you say was your biggest accomplishment of 2015? Besides the DVD sales of How to Train Your Dragon 2.

GB: I spent most of 2015 filming a few new movies that are coming out this year.

JN: That’s right. London is Falling Down comes out next month. 

GB: No, it’s London Has Fallen.

JN: How did you react when Brenda Song from The Suite Life of Zack and Cody was cast as your love interest? 

GB: Confused, but they changed it so…

JN: Do you blame yourself for Gamer

GB: No, I blame Ludacris. Can I talk about Gods of Egypt now?

JN: Is that what you really want. 

GB: You just phrased that question like a statement.

JN: This. Is. A question. 

GB: Gods of Egypt is about characters, you know? And this amazing journey they go on together. One’s a mortal and one’s an immortal—

JN: That’s great and no one cares, but just let me know right now, Gerry. Sequel plans for Phantom of the Opera

GB: …they learn what life is about and what they can learn from each other. And since you brought it up, it’s akin to the relationship between the Phantom and Christine.

JN: You’re Christine in this case? 

GB: No, that would be Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.

JN: Eh? 

GB: Sorry, the Game of Thrones guy. Anyway, it’s fun to be the villain in Gods of Egypt. I get to be such a  badass again.

JN: He reminds me of your character from The Ugly Truth. Wow, how many movies have you done, Gerry? 

GB: Just call me Mr. Butler. And I stopped keeping count in 2006.

JN: Would you say that your character in Gods of Egypt is a personified weapon?

GB: Yes! Exactly, that’s exactly right!

JN: Ha, well then I just won a bet. Hey Adonis, get over here. 

AG: What’s up.

JN: I was right the other day when I said Gerard Butler thinks of his character in Gods of Egypt as a weapon personified.

AG: Is that him over there?

JN: Yeah.

AG: Why does he look so angry?

JN: We were just talking about…

AG: …The Ugly Truth?

(laugh in agreement)

GB: Can I talk about my character, Set, again?

JN: Wait, his name is “Set?”

GB: Yeah, he’s the god of darkness.

JN: And film studio sets? 

AG: No, Jon. He’s clearly the god of volleyball.

JN: Then he would be the god of matches, DONIS. 

GB: He’s the god of darkness!

JN: Seth is? 

GB: No, it’s Set.

JN: But Seth. 

GB: Fine, his name is Seth. Now, his best aspect is how—

JN: This is a real character? Seth, I mean. 

GB: Yes, based on real Egyptian mythology.

AG: That’s offensive to Egyptians.

GB: What, the fact that this movie set in Africa stars two white guys?

AG: No, calling him Seth.

GB: Fine, whatever. Set or “Seth” is the god of storms, the desert, and overall disorder.

JN: Earlier, you said darkness. 

GB: It’s an array of things.

JN: (whispers to Adonis) more like the god of confusion. 

GB: Anyway, Set is just a bad dude and longtime rival of Horus, god of the sky.

JN: He’s the bad guy in the movie? 

GB: No, I am.

JN: Aw, but you’re so sweet. 

GB: (coughs) Well, uh, thank you. Horus is represented by a falcon, and they nail that aesthetic with…with uh…

JN: Game of Thrones guy? 

GB: Yes, thank you.

JN: Is there any…(laughs)…room for romance between your characters? 

GB: What? No! Set—

JN: —Seth

GB: Seth is a dangerous and powerful ruler! He doesn’t love anyone!

JN: (leans over to Adonis) Formulaic. 

AG: I know right.

GB: What makes him unique is the sadness I bring to the character, because he’s very tragic.

JN: So Law Abiding Citizen meets 300

GB: Well…um…I guess.

AG: I’d see that.

JN: Mr. Butler, thank you so much for coming on No More Questions. Can’t wait to have you back for London is Falling Around.

GB: I can.


Gods of Egypt is set to release worldwide on February 26, 2016.

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

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