Have you ever seen those movie ads on TV filled with gushing quotes from critics and thought to yourself, “I saw that movie; it was terrible. Where did they find these positive reviews?” If you have, you’re not alone — and you’re going to love ScreenCrush’s newest series, Critics Are Raving!, which balances the cinematic scales with trailers full of slightly more accurate (and slightly more negative) lines from reviews. Real critics. Real quotes. Really bad movies. That’s what’s Critics Are Raving! is all about.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
As is tradition, the night before the Oscar ceremony takes place, the 37th Annual Golden Raspberry Awards will descend on Los Angeles to commemorate the worst that Hollywood had to offer in 2016. A mean-spirited diss-fest in the estimation of some, a good-natured ribbing to others, the so-called Razzies are twice as unpredictable and ten times as frank as the usual awards program. The expected categories of Worst Picture, Worst Director and Worst Actor/Actress share space with the distinctions of Worst Screen Combo and Worst Prequel, Remake, Ripoff, or Sequel at the ignominious ceremony. Some celebrities take the jokes in stride (Sandra Bullock famously showed up to receive her Worst Actress Razzie for All About Steve the day before she dropped by the Oscars to pick up her Best Actress prize for The Blind Side), but the program goes widely ignored by the industry overall.
Take a seat, because what you’re about to read may shock and disorient you: many of the images seen onscreen during the motion picture Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice are a sham. While the completed film may appear to show superheroes valiantly flying through the air and shooting lasers out of their eyes and discussing maternal nomenclature, many of those same scenes were created using sophisticated computer programs, and never happened at all! Not to destroy the magic of the cinema, but we’ve all been lied to. Superman’s not real, he’s just some unusually pretty dude who spent a couple months in a room wallpapered with green screen.
The Internet Movie Database is a fount of helpful information. With a few simple clicks, users can learn who shot the Miley Cyrus vehicle So Undercover (Things to Come cinematographer Denis Lenoir), which sequel in the Hellraiser franchise featured a performance from a young Adam Scott (the fourth one), or how old Taraji P. Henson is (who looks that good at 46?!). As a repository for loose factoids from in and around the world of screen entertainment, it can’t be beat. As a source for critical perspectives on those same films, however... hoo boy. Just take a gander at any comment section for a movie’s page and marvel at the IMDb is the site where rabid anti-Ghostbusters zealots congregated to downvote Paul Feig’s movie into oblivion weeks before its actual release, and the newly-released IMDb Top 10 provides an even clearer view of its user base.
With all due respect to the major acting and directing categories, I’ve come to really appreciate the Academy Awards’ technical categories in recent years. Whereas the performances and movies at the top of the program are often culled from a predictable pool of art films and auteur projects, the VFX Oscars tend to be a bit more egalitarian in nature, honoring whatever movies are the most impressive regardless of overall quality. This is often how populist film genres not typically noticed by the Academy — action, science-fiction, fantasy — slip into Oscar contention.
If you think Zack Snyder’s on the outs after the critical shellacking and box-office underperformance of this spring’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, then think again. For one, Bats v Supes (as we showbiz types call it) still made an unholy crap ton of money, and moreover, Snyder has another prospective mega-blockbuster coming down the pike in the form of April’s Justice League. Snyder’s pretty much unstoppable, in the same way that a mudslide or water cyclone is unstoppable. And now he’s struck again, this time with a faux trailer that mashes up his own Batman v Superman with elements of the Star Wars series.
Here’s something that bothered me about that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice nightmare sequence: why does he continue to wear the mask? I get the body armor; I can even set aside the whole ‘Batman-doesn’t-kill’ thing and accept the machine gun he wears during the sequence. But why the mask? If we assume that the world has ended, there’s no real reason for him to keep his civilian identity a secret, and it’s not like audiences were going to be confused at who Ben Affleck was playing in the movie. Has Bruce Wayne just gotten used to getting up every morning and putting on eye blac
One of my favorite parts of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was Gal Gadot’s costume as Wonder Woman. Not only was it a much-needed splash of color in an otherwise monochrome film, it was also a nice departure from the overly bulky superhero costumes that have become the norm. Ben Affleck might be a great Batman, but there were times when he looked a little bit like Ralphie’s brother in A Christmas Story, too padded up to put his arms down, let alone fight his way through a warehouse of bad guys. Wonder Woman, on the other hand, looked every bit the agile warrior we were hoping for.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was a tale of two heroes and a tale of two outcomes. The film made $873 million worldwide. But it was also a deeply polarizing film, satisfying many hardcore DC fans but putting off others with its dark tone and heroes that I would characterize as, how should I put this, kinda dumb. It will lead directly into the Wonder Woman and Justice League movies, along with an entire DC Extended Universe, but the film was so dark and dour, that it made a lot of viewers less excited than nervous about all the stuff to come.
I’ve always enjoyed seeing movie costume designs that did not make the cut. So many of these first drafts at superhero costumes are completely different from the final product; sometimes I find I even enjoy the out-of-left-field designs for characters like Batman and Superman more than the ones that ended up in the movies. Either way, these designs shine a light on the revision process that takes places as the film crew hones in on the final look for these iconic characters.