'Messy' Justice League gets mixed response at the hands of the critics

Ben Arnold
UK Movies Writer

The reviews for ‘Justice League’ are beginning to drop, and broadly, it sounds like it’s not great news for the DC Extended Universe.

While some have declared it to be not as woeful as ‘Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice’, the critical landscape is, at its very best, a mixed bag.

Those who hated it, truly hated it, while those who didn’t mind it offer up not much more than faint praise for DC’s stab at an Avengers-style ensemble actioner.

In The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw offers two stars, deeming the movie ‘shapeless’ and ‘unconvincing’, taking aim at the movie’s casting (notably Ben Affleck as Batman).

“In the end, though, there is something ponderous and cumbersome about Justice League; the great revelation is very laborious and solemn and the tiresome post-credits sting is a microcosm of the film’s disappointment. Some rough justice is needed with the casting of this franchise,” he writes.

Robbie Collin in the Daily Telegraph is rather more vitriolic, with a one-star pumelling, branding it ‘an embarrassment beyond saving’.

“It feels like a sheepish feature-length retraction of the franchise to date,” he writes.

“It’s consistently embarrassing to watch, and features plot holes so yawningly vast they have a kind of Grand Canyon-like splendour: part of you wants to hang around to see what they look like at sunset.

“Justice League is a mess in ways cheaper productions could only dream about. A post-credits scene dutifully teases more to come, but the film’s heart just isn’t in it. After Justice League, there’s nowhere else any of this can go.”

Collider’s Matt Goldberg also lays in, zeroing in on the film’s lack of a decent villain (Steppenwolf, played in mo-cap by Ciaran Hinds).

“I was expecting Steppenwolf to be dull and easily disposable, but I didn’t think he would be this atrocious. I assume he’s CGI because no actor in their right mind would play such a forgettable antagonist, and I hope Hinds got paid well for a guy whose purpose is to steal Mother Boxes and get punched by superheroes.

“His existence is so perfunctory it borders on self-parody. Of course, you can’t really expect the villain to get his due when even the lead characters barely have enough time to leave an impact.”

Richard Lawson in Vanity Fair, without going into too many specifics, calls it ‘a big, ugly mess’.

There are some out there who didn’t hate it wholesale, however.

Brian Truitt in USA Today calls it: “A better effort than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and a worthy follow-up to runaway hit Wonder Woman, Justice League does the DC icons proud with some high-profile additions and a strong if unspectacular effort full of fun character moments.”

Owen Gleiberman in Variety say it’s ‘the essence of generic competence’.

“In superhero movies, sheer lively deliver-the-goods competence can be a quality you’re grateful for – or one that seems awesomely innocuous. In ‘Justice League’, it’s a little of both,” he adds.

Eric Kohn on Indiewire also gives begrudging praise, writing: “As a pure ride, ‘Justice League’ nicely panders to the lowest common denominator of moviegoing expectations.”

So far, reviews aggregator Metacritic is giving the movie a mediocre score of 50, while Rotten Tomatoes, whose parent company Flixster is part-owned by Warner Bros, has received flack for withholding its score, which will surely only draw attention to how average it is once it arrives.

Starring Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, Amy Adams, and Ciaran Hinds, it’s out across the UK on November 17.

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