“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is set to do boffo business this weekend despite a slew of bad reviews. Indeed, the $250 million movie merits a mere 27 among the top critics surveyed by Rotten Tomatoes. But while it has been pilloried for its plot, the technical aspects of this epic have been praised. As such, it could well do something only one film has done before: win at both the Oscars and the Razzies.
In the 36-year history of the Razzie Awards, the only picture to prevail at both kudos was “Wall Street” back in 1987. It won both Best Actor at the Oscars (Michael Douglas) and Worst Supporting Actress (Daryl Hannah) at the Razzies.
This much-anticipated match-up of the two superheroes was helmed by Zach Snyder, who also directed “Man of Steel,” the 2013 reboot of the Superman franchise. Henry Cavill reprises his role as the titular hero and five-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams is back as intrepid reporter Lois Lane. Two-time Oscar champ Ben Affleck (“Good Will Hunting,” “Argo”) steps into the caped crusader costume for the first time while Oscar winner Holly Hunter (“The Piano”) is a politico who questions their hero credentials.
Despite all of this award-winning talent, most reviewers were unreceptive. Among the most critical were:
A.O. Scott (New York Times) bemoans: “In keeping with current business imperatives, what Mr. Snyder has concocted is less a free-standing film than the opening argument in a very long trial. Its two-and-a-half-hour running time, not so much a ‘dawn’ as an entire morning spent watching the clock in anticipation of lunchtime, is peppered with teasers for coming sequels.”
Michael Phillips (Chicago Tribune) notes: “Snyder is not without skills, or ideas, but when a critic finds himself at odds with almost every aspect of a director’s visual approach to material like this, material like this becomes pretty joyless.”
Ann Hornaday (Washington Post) observes: “Strip away the trite character beats, rote plot points, random dream sequences and other narrative padding, and ‘Batman v Superman’ comes down to the actors, their characters and whether they can sustain interest over the long haul. The answer is yes, if they wind up in the hands of filmmakers blessed with authentic imagination rather than serviceable technical chops.”
And Joe Morgenstern (Wall Street Journal) opines: “Spasms of highfalutin philosophy, and howlingly pretentious dream sequences, serve only as the thinnest of veneers for incessant action in one of the most assaultive movies ever made.”
However, a few critics were more welcoming including Peter Travers (Rolling Stone) who describes the movie as “a colossus, the stuff that DC Comics dreams are made of for that kid in all of us who yearns to see Batman and Superman suit up and go in for the kill.” And Brian Truitt (USA Today) thinks it “will please those either waiting for the two main players to lock horns on a movie screen, or those who’ve just been pining for Wonder Woman forever. “
The most recent film to compete at both awardfests was “The Lone Ranger” in 2013. Disney’s box-office bomb earned a pair of technical bids from the academy (Best Makeup/Hairstyling and Visual Effects) as well as five Razzie nominations, including Worst Picture and Worst Actor (Johnny Depp). While it lost both of its Oscar races, it was named Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel at the Razzies.
1998 Razzie champ “Armageddon,” which also starred Affeck, lost all four of its Oscar races. Among those was a bid by songwriter Diane Warren for “I Don;t Want to Miss a Thing,” which also contended at the Razzies. She was a double nominee in 1997 as well for “How Do I Live” from “Con Air.”
Its rare for someone’s work to be divisive enough to receive nominations at both events. Amy Irving was both a Best and Worst Supporting Actress nominee for “Yentl,” whose original score was an Oscar-winner and a Razzie nominee. And James Coco earned supporting bids from both groups for “Only When I Laugh.”
There have been many instances of Oscar winners inciting the wrath of Razzie voters, and two did it in the same year: Sandra Bullock was the Best and Worst Actress of 2009 for “The Blind Side” and “All About Steve” respectively. And Brian Helgeland was recognized for two screenplays in 1997: “L.A. Confidential” at the Oscars, “The Postman” at the Razzies.