Alex Proyas just went nuclear.
In the early morning hours of Sunday, smack dab in the middle of a weekend where his new film GODS OF EGYPT tanked hard at the box office, Proyas fired off an epic post against film critics. The film, which cost $140 million to make and only managed a $14 million opening weekend, was dogged by social activist types for white-washing ancient Egypt with a predominantly caucasian cast.
Here's his angry tirade, and then join me after for some analysis:
"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 important to note that the director may have a leg to stand on here, with regard to the criticism of the film's lack of diversity. In earlier statements, where he and the studio all apologized for the perception that the film white-washed the subject material, Proyas would note that the film isn't meant to be a historically accurate period piece- but rather just a tale of pure fantasy. In fact, Gerard Butler and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau- who both took the brunt of the backlash since they're caucasian and heavily featured in the film's promotional campaign- don't even play Egyptians in the film. They're gods, not humans. Just like African-American actor Chadwick Boseman, who plays the god Thoth, which doesn't come up at all, since the SJWs don't mind if you "black-wash" Egyptians, I guess.
Coster-Waldau once said "A lot of people are getting really worked up online about the fact that I'm a white actor. I'm not even playing an Egyptian; I'm an 8-foot-tall god who turns into a falcon. A part of me just wants to freak out, but then I think, 'There's nothing you can do about it.' You can’t win in that sort of discussion."
So, in that sense, Proyas may have a point that the social justice warriors of the world may have damaged the public perception of his film without really looking at what was really going on. You can disagree with his decisions, or his rationale, but you have to admit that- through that prism- the hate thrown at this film would seem unwarranted if you were him.
As for his takedown of critics...
Hey, I've let my opinions be known before, on what I think of flawed parameters for critique. But to expand on that, and take into account what Proyas said yesterday, I have observed a sort of hive mentality at press screenings. It's why I don't really socialize much at them. I tend to avoid speaking to fellow critics after a film- since so many just want to hear themselves speak- and I also make certain to avoid reading any reviews of a film before I write my own. Not an easy thing to do, since Rotten Tomatoes is part of my daily ritual. But if I'm reviewing a film, I'll forbid myself from going there until mine has been published so that I'm not tempted to fall into the "what's everyone else saying?" trap. The results are always interesting to me, as sometimes I naturally fall right in line with the consensus, and other times I end up being the lone wolf.
Regardless of anything I've just mentioned, the fact remains that GODS OF EGYPT is going to go down as a colossal bomb- between the abysmal box office and the terrible reviews. Whether it deserved the latter is up to you. I can't comment, as I didn't see the film. Not because of the controversy, or because of the negative word-of-mouth, but rather I'm just not a fan of those kinds of films. I didn't see 300, CLASH OF THE TITANS, or IMMORTALS in theaters. There was no reason to start with GODS OF EGYPT.
This all begs the question: Did you see it? What did you think? Let us know.