Justice League Reviews: Is DC's Super Team-Up a Blast or a Bust?

by | November 16, 2017 | Comments

(Photo by Clay Enos/Warner Bros.)

After a trio of films that failed to win critics over, Warner Bros. and DC finally hit it out of the park earlier this year with Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, which was Certified Fresh at 92% en route to earning over $412 million domestically at the box office. Encouraged by this, hopeful fans of the DC Extended Universe next looked to this week’s Justice League to continue that trend, especially after a relatively positive early reception on social media last week — and despite it’s all too public behind-the-scenes troubles.

Well, we finally have a Tomatometer score for Justice League, and if the earliest reviews are any indication, it might be best to temper expectations. Most critics have been fairly mixed about the film, talking about the strengths of specific cast members but pointing out missteps in the script. Currently, the Tomatometer sits at 40% with 134 reviews, and while we expect a lot more reviews to come in, it’s not likely the score will shift a great deal. In the meanwhile, you can check out a sampling of what critics are saying about DC’s latest here:

Is it exciting?

The pace of Justice League, which clocks in under two hours, feels like a blessing after so much bloat in previous superhero films. And Snyder’s gorgeously slick visual style is as easy on the eyes as ever.
Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly

As a pure assault of archetypes and sprawling set pieces, Justice League hums along.
Eric Kohn, IndieWire

Taken as a whole, Justice League is often thrilling and rousing, with few of the outright infuriating twists that have made past DCEU movies so frustrating: the “Your mom’s name is Martha too?” miscalculations or “Superman destroys the city he’s trying to save” tone-deaf shenanigans.
Tasha Robinson, The Verge

How about the plot?

Un-engaging from the off, the plot never convinces as anything more than a bridge between underwhelming, CG-laden action sequences.
Jordan Farley, Total Film

It’s like having a little kid stutteringly recap a movie for you (“And then this happened and then this happened, oh wait, but also this happened”) instead of watching an actual movie.
Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

DC’s superheroes are assembled on screen at last. It’s just a shame that the resulting film is a chaotic, baffling mess.
Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

The story plays a lot like there was some in-between movie no one saw that would help explain things..
– Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic

(Photo by Clay Enos/Warner Bros.)

How well do Snyder and Whedon blend together?

The problem is that Justice League zips back and forth between extremes, trying to encompass two different movies. It happens so frequently, and without prompt, that the dizzying pace is impossible to follow.
Julia Alexander, Polygon

No matter where you stand on Snyder as a filmmaker, his style is instantly recognizable, yet the film might be the most anonymous yet to bear his credit. Meanwhile, Whedon-ites will find little to cling to here.
Kevin Jagernauth, The Playlist

Justice League is weird because Whedon’s influence is sprinkled in – and it’s totally obvious where these Whedon sprinkles are. It would be like having a soup, then sprinkling the soup with basketballs.
Mike Ryan, Uproxx

How does it look?

It looks great and has a wide array of colors and use of light versus use of shadows, retaining much of the visual aesthetic from previous DCEU releases but expanding on them.
Mark Hughes, Forbes

If you like your superhero battles in deep dark tunnels or under skies purple with alien soot, director Zack Snyder is back with yet another installment that looks the way Axe body spray smells.
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap

Don’t let the slick, well-chosen production stills fool you: This is for the most part a cramped and cheaply ugly movie, with crappy special effects.
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, AV Club

(Photo by Warner Bros.)

How’s the team chemistry?

The cast play together well, with Ezra Miller’s enthusiastic, geeky Flash contributing a majority of the charm and laughs, and Gal Gadot unsurprisingly bringing gravitas as reluctant team leader Diana.
Dan Jolin, Empire

The cast all deliver gangbusters here.
– Mark Hughes, Forbes

The actors actually look like they’re having fun, which somehow both undercuts and enriches the gloom.
Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice

They’re a wonderful (and ridiculously good-looking) group of performers, and they play well together.
Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

How is the cast?

Gadot doesn’t have to say much to make her character click; she’s impervious to a screenplay otherwise marred by its stabs at cleverness.
– Eric Kohn, IndieWire

Ben Affleck is unrelaxed and ill-at-ease in the role of Batman/Bruce, unconvincing in both the bat armour and the three-piece suit of the wealthy plutocrat.
– Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

Affleck, donning the bat suit for the second time, looks like he’d rather be almost anywhere else but here; his eyes and body language make it clear that he’s just not into it.
– Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter

Miller’s awkward and adorable Flash steals every scene with his charismatic performance, whereas Momoa’s brooding machismo plays as an unpredictable bit of charming comedy.
– Julia Alexander, Polygon

[Miller’s] quick, self-deprecating humor (likely the result of Joss Whedon’s script and reshoot work) and general liveliness steals scenes away from his brawnier and moodier counterparts.
– Lindsey Bahr, Associated Press

Miller’s young-Jeff-Goldblum-on-Adderall Allen and Momoa’s grumpy, macho Curry fit in perfectly with Gadot’s Diana—the straight woman to this team of competing male egos—and with Affleck’s self-aware, probably alcoholic Wayne, who remains the most credible live-action interpretation of the character since Michael Keaton’s turn in the Tim Burton Batman films.
– Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, AV Club

(Photo by Warner Bros.)

How is Steppenwolf as the villain?

Any superhero movie worth its salt has to give us something to root against. A computer-generated bad guy stomping around looking for boxes doesn’t cut it, even if he is voiced by the great Ciaran Hinds.
– Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic

Of all the bad villains in superhero movies, Steppenwolf is easily the worst in recent memory. He’s just a big CGI cipher for “bad guy.”
– Mike Ryan, Uproxx

There’s no shortage of interesting characters with intriguing powers on display here, but there’s frustratingly little space to tell their individual stories and, biggest problem of all, they lack a worthy opponent.
Kate Taylor, Globe and Mail

Steppenwolf is an amalgamation of every bad quality a villain could have, but the major unavoidable problem is that Steppenwolf is boring.
– Julia Alexander, Polygon

What are Justice League‘s biggest flaws?

The film has to stand in as an origin story for three new heroes, as well as an origin story for a team, and it blurs past a lot of significant character beats with a brevity and apathy that does nothing to turn its protagonists into people.
– Tasha Robinson, The Verge

Justice League’s most significant shortcoming is how forgettable it all is. There’s barely a moment that sticks, not a single sequence to rival the standout superhero set-pieces of recent years.
– Jordan Farley, Total Film

Everything is thrown at the wall here — armloads of cornball one-liners; rock ‘n roll character introductions; quiet, dramatic passages; overdriven CGI spectacle — but, ironically for a superhero team-up movie, none of it hangs together.
– Kevin Jagernauth, The Playlist

Plainly put, it’s simply not fun.
– Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter

(Photo by Clay Enos/Warner Bros.)

But will DCEU fans enjoy it?

From sounds to characters, Justice is indeed served.
Brian Truitt, USA Today

It’s a tasty franchise delivery system that kicks a certain series back into gear.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety

Justice League is a seriously satisfying superhero movie, one that, rife with lines like “the stench of your fear is making my soldiers hungry,” actually feels like the earnest comic books of our squandered youth.
Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

What’s left after the cutting is fun and engaging enough, and it’s all anchored by terrific lead performances. There were even times when (gasp) it moved me.
– Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice

Justice League opens everywhere on Friday, November 17.

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