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‘Justice League’ Reviews: What the Critics Are Saying

Before critics even released reviews of “Justice League,” the DC blockbuster raised eyebrows when Warner Bros. and Rotten Tomatoes both delayed review ratings until a day before the movie’s premiere.

Following numerous setbacks including extensive reshoots and directorial shifts after Zack Snyder stepped away from the project following his daughter’s death, the film received mixed reviews.

From DC Comic’s extended universe, “Justice League” picks up where “Batman v Superman” left off and stars Ben Affleck as Batman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Ezra Miller as the Flash, Henry Cavill as Superman, Ray Fisher as Cyborg, and Jason Momoa as Aquaman.

In general, critics say “Justice League” falls somewhere between box-office sensation “Wonder Woman,” and the under-performing “Batman v Superman.” Most praised the chemistry of the cast along with the its direction, considering it’s the product of two filmmakers, while others panned the bland villain, Steppenwolf and pointed out the universe’s shortcomings compared to rival Marvel.

Variety’s Owen Gleiberman penned one of the movie’s more positive reviews, writing, “The movie is no cheat. It’s a tasty franchise delivery system that kicks a certain series back into gear.”

“Justice League” opens Nov. 17. See highlights from the critical response below:

Variety’s Owen Gleiberman:

“Justice League,” the latest link of Tinkertoy in the DC Comics universe, has been conceived, in each and every frame, to correct the sins of “Batman v Superman.” It’s not just a sequel — it’s an act of franchise penance. The movie, which gathers up half a dozen comic-book immortals and lets them butt heads on their way to kicking ass, is never messy or bombastic. It’s light and clean and simple (at times almost too simple), with razory repartee and combat duels that make a point of not going on for too long.”

Indiewire’s Ben Kohn:

“‘Justice League’ offers a tepid mea culpa, attempting to liven the material (with a third-act assist from Joss Whedon, who finished the movie when Snyder stepped away for tragic personal reasons). Taking more than one page from Marvel’s first ‘Avengers’ installment, ‘Justice League’ rounds up the current spate of active D.C. franchise superheroes, and the resulting 119-minute pileup of showdowns and one-liners is an undeniably tighter, more engaging experience. It’s also a tired, conventional attempt to play by the rules, with ‘hold for laughs’ moments shoehorned between rapid-fire action — a begrudging concession that the Marvel formula works, and a shameless attempt to replicate it.”

Los Angeles Times’ Kenneth Turan:

As directed by Zack Snyder, and, more importantly, co-written by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon, character is more than destiny here. It is the key reason ‘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. Unlike the glib denizens of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, residents of the DC Extended Universe have always had a somber gravitas, a sense that the weight of the world’s troubles might all but crush them.”

Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers:

“For those who loathe Zack Snyder’s ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,’ and they are legion, ‘Justice League’ will be just the corrective followup they’re looking for. Granted, BvS got a bad rap for staying true to the dark instincts of the DC Comics universe from which it emerged. It’s just that director Snyder lacked the artistic cred that Christopher Nolan brought to his ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy, to put it mildly. Instead of the Freudian gloom and doom of the Caped Crusader (Ben Affleck) and the Man of Steel (Henry Cavill) hating on each other, this coming together of DC’s heavy hitters takes so many happy pills it almost overdoses on them. No one sings ‘the sun’ll come out tomorrow’ in this movie. But the attitude is so bright and optimistic that you might mistake it for a fun ride on the Marvel express.”

New York Times’ Manohla Dargis:

“Mr. Snyder remains regrettably committed to a dark, desaturated palette that borders on the murky, and this movie’s chaotic, unimaginative action scenes can drag on forever. But the touches of humor in ‘Justice League’ lighten the whole thing tonally and are a relief after the dirgelike ‘Batman v Superman,’ which he ran into the ground with a two-and-a-half-hour running time. (‘Justice League’ clocks in at a not-exactly fleet two hours.) Written by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon, the new movie shows a series that’s still finding its footing as well as characters who, though perhaps not yet as ostensibly multidimensional as Marvel’s, may be more enduring (and golden). It has justice, and it has banter. And while it could have used more hanging out, more breeziness, it is a start.”

Entertainment Weekly’s Chris Nashawaty:

“There are things to like in ‘Justice League.’ The chemistry between the old and new castmembers being the main one, thanks to Whedon and co-writer Chris Terrio. And the handful of call-back cameos from Amy Adams’ Lois Lane, Diane Lane’s Martha Kent, and Connie Nielsen’s Queen Hippolyta are all welcome without overstaying that welcome (the same goes for newcomers like J.K. Simmons’ Commissioner Gordon). It’s obvious to anyone watching ‘Justice League’ next to the other DC films that the studio brass handed down a mandate to lighten the mood and make things funnier and more Marvel-y. And, to an extent, ‘Justice League’ accomplishes that. But it also feels like so much attention was paid to the smaller, fizzier character moments that the bigger picture of the film’s overarching plot was a second or third priority. Some day, hopefully soon, DC will get the recipe right again and duplicate Wonder Woman’s storytelling magic. But today isn’t that day, and Justice League unfortunately isn’t that film.”

IGN’s Jim Vejvoda:

“‘Justice League’ has some good moments and some bad ones, but it ultimately ekes out just enough entertainment value to warrant a look-see. That said, ‘Justice League seldom delivers any truly ‘wow!’ moments of finally seeing these awesome superheroes assembled together onscreen the way ‘The Avengers’ did. This first big screen union of DC Comics’ top-tier superheroes is ultimately just an adequate adventure flick. It’s marred by a very choppy story, a run-of-the-mill villain, some shoddy visual effects, and an overall haphazard execution.”

USA Today’s Brian Truitt: 

“Justice League is as solid an outing as any superhero fan could hope, with a clear family vibe: Wonder Woman and Batman prove to be a dynamic mom-and-dad duo while the fastest kid around steals the show. 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.”

Chicago Sun Times’ Richard Roeper:

“Doesn’t take much imagination to know how it’s all going to turn out — but the fun in “Justice League” is in seeing Affleck’s Batman and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman teaming up with Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen/Flash, Jason Momoa’s Arthur Curry/Aquaman and Ray Fisher’s Victor Stone/Cyborg. It’s a putting-the-band-together origins movie, executed with great fun and energy. About those actors playing the Fab Five (with room for more to come). They’re a wonderful (and ridiculously good-looking) group of performers, and they play well together. Thanks to a nifty screenplay by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon and just the right mix of ‘heavy-iosity’ and humor in the directorial tone of Zack Snyder, ‘Justice League’ marks a solid step forward for the DC Comics Extended Universe.”

Tampa Bay Times’ Steve Persall:

“This time, universe keeper Zack Snyder nearly gets it right. Justice League is yet another DC movie without a wowza villain, weighed down by origins stories and redundant CGI effects. Yet it’s slightly lighter on its feet, funnier not in a Ragnarok way but able to crack a smile now and then. Justice League does remain fun as it unravels, an upgrade from every other DC flick. Yet a movie intended as the culmination of DC lore instead feels like just another sequel set-up. You’ll need to wait through seven minutes of end credits to get the villains this movie deserved.”

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