Reviews: Oh My God

Rather than the social commentary and innovative documentary it was clearly trying to be, Oh My God ends up being nothing more than an egotistical Hollywood back-pat. Too many times film-maker Peter Rodger incorporates himself into the plot line instead of focusing on trying to get the content on camera.

There are times, when making documentaries, when inserting oneself into the film is not only relevant but integral, adding pivotal information and revealing interesting aspects (e.g. the fantastic Forbidden Lies). In Oh My God, we follow Rodger on a journey – interviewing an author/con-artist – and we learn about the subject with Rodger as film progresses. However, the blog-like approach to film-making employed in Oh My God subtracted from the overall experience (the poor production quality was distracting at best) and, personally, gave me the impression that Rodger was both very egotistical and lacking in the drive needed to make such an ambitious project work. The interviews were interesting, although I do not understand why the colour correction on location in Australia was so washed out; Hugh Jackman looked ill!

I must add, however, that the cinematography in some of the landscapes was breathtaking. The opening shot, possibly of Nepal, was like ‘WHAM’ and certainly made me shut up and, initially, listen to what this guy wanted to tell me. But the overall impact didn’t impress me as much due to the inability of both the film and the documentarian to emotionally connect to the audience. I also found the editing quite biased, making some interviewees seem more arrogant or ignorant than others. What should have been a poignant and engrossing film with the potential to spark passionate discussion about world politics and religion was, in my opinion, lukewarm and poorly made. After 3 years in production I don’t want to be too harsh, because surely Rodger must have believed in what he was doing. However, I still don’t understand why he needed to add his reflections into the script.

The interviews, the stunning photography, the A-class celebrity interviews – there is no question that this film had, let me be frank, shitloads of money behind it.  So why the hell would you detract from the experience by adding in low resolution, pixelated, terrible-quality footage of yourself lying in bed in some hotel, chatting to the camera about your thoughts on your film so far? The only answer I can find is ego.

In fact, thinking about it, Oh My God was a totally biased film which didn’t allow me to find my own answers (despite the film-maker stating that allowing you to find your own answers was his goal). One thing that I found extremely insulting was the horrific interview with an Islamic Extremist, speaking – apparently – on behalf of Islam. Of course, including this is vital to the topic of the film but should only be used in reference to the absurdity of this man calling his beliefs Islam! The film-maker needed to edit the content together with something to contrast those extremist views with the other 99.999% of the Islamic community who live with similar values to those of Christianity or Buddhism. And not one interview with the KKK? I think John Safran vs. God was much more enlightening and educational, and he filmed voodoo ceremonies and took part in the consumption of goats testicles!

I’ll give it 2 stars for the production value of the parts of the film which didn’t take place in dim hotel rooms, and for the hilarious interview with Sir Bob Geldof. But that’s it.

– Jacqui Hocking

2 Responses to “Reviews: Oh My God”
  1. Jeremy says:

    While I haven’t seen the film (and I don’t think I’m going to bother to after reading this review!), I’m going to assume that it flat out attacks religion in some sort of elitist way.

    And for the most part, atheists often tend to come off egotistical and elitist. All my life I followed the Bible as a devout Christian thanks to my parents, and always thought that some atheists just needed to keep their mouth shut!

    But now that I have lost my “faith” and rather focus on discovering and questioning on my own terms (not on “God’s terms”), I have felt myself gravitate towards this elitist and egotistical attitude towards people who follow religion and religion in general. Maybe this is because I’ve realized that religion has caused too much conflict and pain in our history, or maybe because I naturally feel pity for those who devoutly follow Christianity and Islam, because (at least in my opinion) the majority of religions, and especially the two I mentioned, guide people into a life filled with roadblocks and blindness. On a societal scale, it in many ways flat out prevents progression!

    The majority of religions have one common underlying message: to be “good,” and live a selfless life. It’s just that I absolutely HATE to see people being good and selfless for the wrong reasons — “because some god said you should, and if you don’t you’re going to hell.” When in reality, we should be good for the sake of humanity.

    OK, so I ranted on more than I probably should have! You can blame the coffee. 🙂 Anyway, thanks for the read. Awesome blog. Definitely going to bookmark.

    • Ben Vernel says:

      Thanks for the read and bookmark!

      Unlike Jacqui I didn’t see this but in terms of religion vs atheism, I tend towards agnosticism. Open to proof and theory but generally undecided. I’m definitely with you in terms of morality though; be good for goodness’ sake, not because you fear punishment. Again, cheers for the bookmarking and glad you enjoyed the review!

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