If a movie falls short of being “the worst thing ever” is that paradoxically a compliment? This question seems to be on the minds of critics that have seen Justice League already. The most common word used in most of them is “mess,” and most seem to agree that the movie’s at least better than Batman v Superman. But is there something more redeemable in there?

What the critics are saying in their early reviews of Justice League can be found below. Also, check out our review of the film. Some spoilers may follow.

Manohla Davis with the New York Times optimistically called Justice League “Better Than the Last One!” in his headline, describing the story as a “confusion of noise, visual clutter and murderous digital gnats, but every so often a glimmer of life flickers through.” Like most reviews, the largest praise is for the new characters:

The Flash gets most of the best jokes, and Mr. Miller makes most of them work, largely in the role of in-house fanboy with a touch of the Cowardly Lion. It’s golly-gee stuff, but it’s also human and Mr. Miller keeps you hooked, as does Mr. Momoa (“Game of Thrones”), who supplely shifts between gravitas and comedy. When Aquaman chugs a bottle of booze before plunging into an angry sea, the movie hits the comic-book sweet spot between deadly seriousness and self-amused levity.”

Where is Aquaman?

Entertainment Weekly’s Chris Nashawaty gave Justice League a C+, which is at least a passing grade, right? For him, at least this movie is better than [Batman v Superman](/topic/batman-v-superman), which really isn’t saying all that much.

Whereas man praise Ezra Miller’s Flash, Nashawaty calls him “overtly needy in his bid for laughs,” comparing him to Tom Holland’s manic, sometimes childish Peter Parker.

Writing for Polygon, Julia Alexander more or less describes a movie that is enjoyable enough while never quite exceeding expectations:

“There are enough sporadic moments of decent filmmaking to bounce from one good scene to the next without feeling bored, so it never feels like a drag. Even during Justice League’s better scenes, however, it’s impossible to ignore the creeping feeling that something isn’t right.”

Alexander describes two movies inexplicably mashed together. One has a bored Ben Affleck and “the most boring supervillain to grace the big screen since Victor Von Doom in Fox’s 2015 Fantastic Four.” But the other “is a joy.” She writes:

“It’s full of heart, and understands that beneath the superhero exterior the more compelling story is friendship. … 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. Both are welcome additions to a bland universe that benefits from bouts of spicier characters.”

Ezra Miller is The Flash.

But reviewers like Richard Lawson with Vanity Fair straight-up call Justice League a “Big, Ugly Mess,” citing how easy it was for him to tell the final product was a disjointed mess of Zack Snyder’s residual dour tone with Joss Whedon’s punchy bits of levity. He references his apparently frustrating days in high school and college theater as a long-winded way to essentially call the movie utter garbage:

“… once in awhile, there comes along something so egregiously bad that trying to find something good to say about it is its own kind of cruelty; such an obvious act of reaching only highlights the production’s garish dimensions, its abject failures. … The film is, plainly stated, terrible, and I’m sorry that everyone wasted their time and money making it — and that people are being asked to waste their time and money seeing it.”

The Flash and Aquaman look like they're gearing up for some kind of final battle.

Still, not all the reviews are negative. Brandon Davis wrote mostly positive things for ComicBook.com, saying that the “all in” gamble from the marketing has paid off. Davis wrote, “Justice League uses necessary elements of its predecessors in the universe to tell its story but serves also a re-launch to the world with a brand new vibe everyone can enjoy.” Chances are high that this is exactly what DC was going for.

Davis also has great praise for Ezra Miller’s Flash: “The actor’s portrayal of an amusing and unconventional young Barry sets him significantly apart from the others, often serving as heavy-handed comic relief as he discovers what it means to be a hero on a world-saving scale.”

Whether or not you want it to be the case, the Justice League is “all in” when the film releases on November 17, but the question is: are you?


If you liked this article, check out this video where the stars of Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman talk about how psychology helped create Wonder Woman.

Photos via Warner Bros. Pictures (1, 2, 3, 4)

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