Last Thursday I had the great displeasure of having to sit through Alex Proyas’ Gods of Egypt. By Friday, word was out: Gods of Egypt was a disaster of the legendary kind. On Sunday, Proyas left a long rant on Facebook which begins with the words, in full caps no less, “NOTHING CONFIRMS RAMPANT STUPIDITY FASTER... Than reading reviews of my own movies.”
In fairness, Proyas has enough reason to be furious: Gods of Egypt has been universally panned. It holds an abysmally low 12% rating on the review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes. Will Leitch, writing for The New Republic said, “Gods of Egypt is a movie that requires more effort to sit through than it did to make it.” Variety’s Justin Chang agreed, “This is by any measure a dreadful movie, a chintzy, CG-encrusted eyesore that oozes stupidity and self-indulgence from its every pore.”
In my review for Hindustan Times, I said, “The film, pun fully intended, is an ungodly mess. What could have been an adventurous buddy comedy, an old-fashioned, Ben-Hur style epic, or a knowingly deranged B-movie ends up being an early contender for the worst film of the year.”
“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,” says Proyas.
What he’s trying to say here, while projecting himself as some kind of rebellious maverick filmmaker, is that most critics hated the movie because of its controversial decision to cast predominantly white actors in a movie set in Egypt. And I partially agree. This is not a historically accurate film, it’s a fantasy. And that gives him obvious liberties. But come on Alex, your movie is called Gods of Egypt. Would it have been that crazy to cast just one Egyptian actor in it?
Watch the trailer here
And like his movie, Proyas conveniently chooses to ignore non-whites when he calls critics “deranged idiots,” and “pale asses.” I’m not white, and I still found the movie incredibly offensive. And I’d like to think I’m not a deranged idiot either. After all, I consider myself an Alex Proyas fan.
“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,” continues the implosion.
Once again, Proyas’ ranting argument can be easily dismissed. I saw the film at an early press screening on Thursday, and guess what that means: I had no other reviews with which to blemish my opinion. And this is despite the fact that I found the trailers quite enjoyable, as evidenced here. They were trying to sell a movie that was in on the joke. Instead, like Alex Proyas, it turned out to be a movie that took itself too seriously. We were all locked in a room with a movie no one had seen and no one had read about. Yet, wordlessly, the entire room’s annoyance was palpable. And when a movie surpasses your optimism and makes you hate it, there’s no defending it.
“Often, to my great amusement, a critic will mention my past films in glowing terms,” he said.
And that is exactly what I did. But there are two things of note with this point. First: Alex Proyas is playing the victim because not all his previous films have been “savaged” like this one. The Crow holds a healthy 82% on Rotten Tomatoes. Dark City stands at 74%. And quite rightly so, they’re both visionary classics. Even his lowest-rated movie (till Gods of Egypt took the cake, that is), Knowing, holds a 33%. And I love that movie, something that I made a point to mention in the review. Second: His previous work was good. And this just isn’t. Notice how he has no excuse for the other criticisms his film has attracted. I’m referring to the shoddy effects, non-existent script and poorly pitched performances.
He concludes by calling everyone who dislikes his movie, quite eloquently, “a pack of diseased vultures pecking at the bones of a dying carcass.” Well, he got one thing right: Gods of Egypt is indeed a dying carcass. The sooner Alex Proyas understands this, the better. Because, whether he likes it or not, he’s a talented director and we need him back.
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The author tweets @NaaharRohan