"Justice League" was welcomed in theaters Thursday night the same way most other DC movies have been: with lots of money and lots of bad reviews.
The sequel to "Batman v Superman" has a 40 percent approval rating from 227 critics counted on Rotten Tomatoes, so far. Although that score is a modest improvement upon the final critic tally for its predecessor ("BvS" scored just 27 percent), it's still not very flattering. Even the "fresh" reviews aren't really offering much praise.
Film School Rejects critic Rob Hunter's review, for example, was among those counted as a positive one, but upon clicking on the link, readers are greeted with this high praise: "Unfortunately, what's up on the screen is a mess of a film highlighted by brief bits of personality too often drowned out by a movie that can't get out of its own way soon enough."
The Rotten Tomatoes blurb that is used to support the categorization of Hunter's review as "fresh" isn't exactly high praise either. "An improvement over the dour idiocy of 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' and the silliness of 'Suicide Squad.' Incremental maybe, but still, an improvement."
Translation: he doesn't think "Justice League" is a very good movie. But apparently the bar has been set so low for DC movies not called "Wonder Woman" that just about any review describing it as "better" than the studio's previous stinkers will be considered a good one.
But what about the critics who couldn't even find a silver lining while watching (or suffering) Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash, Cyborg and Superman face off against another CGI villain threatening to destroy the world? TooFab found 'em, and it wasn't hard. Here's 11 of the most savage "Justice League" reviews.
"'Justice League' is a pointless flail of expensive (yet somehow cheap-looking) CGI that no amount of tacked-on quips, or even Gadot's luminescent star power, can rescue... there's no sense of purpose here, not even a sense of place. I don't recognize this world,” Jeremy Irons as butler Alfred laments to his boss. “I don't need to recognize it,” says Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). “I just need to save it.” Exactly. Insert one random abandoned warehouse after another in which our heroes lob heavy objects at … who's the power-hungry villain, this time around? Ah yes, Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds), who isn't a '70s rock god but a horned demon aiming to assemble some mysterious magic boxes so he can take over the worlkjzshdalkfhsdfs . . . Sorry. Just fell asleep at the keyboard."0
"I doubt the villainous Darkseid himself could devise a torture device as punishing as the first hour of Justice League ... As the better Marvel films have shown, you need a lot more than zippy repartee to make a superhero film feel heartfelt and thematically resonant. And this one, despite its Whedon-y patches, is mostly a senses-assaulting mess, an offense to good taste as well as basic narrative cohesion. In one scene, Batman asks his butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons) where the team has just arrived, an island between Metropolis and Gotham that they discussed literally one scene earlier. Later, Batman will radio Alfred from a locale that the film has taken pains to identify as a communications dead zone. These plot holes are only the most obvious signs of the movie's troubled origins, and they're rather small compared with the abyss that separates the movie's divergent tones."
"It's not just that, beat by beat, 'Justice League' feels nearly identical to so many of the superhero movies that have come before, or that it features some of the ugliest, most pointless special effects I've seen at the movies in a long time. It's that the darn thing feels depressingly haphazard and thoughtless, and that it's guaranteed to make a ton of money anyway. Superhero fans are a ridiculously powerful market; they deserve better than this."
"Film historians will one day answer the widely debated question, 'Was DC Entertainment's brand image ruined by Warner Bros. or was Warner Bros. torpedoed by DC Entertainment?' Until then it may remain unclear which came first, the badly plucked chicken or the rotten egg. The erratic and fatigue-inducing 'Justice League' will leave moviegoers wondering where to assign the blame — and where to find the exits."
"Why are the Warner Brothers/DC superhero movies such a stone drag? 'Justice League' is an improvement over 2016's 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,' but only in the sense that a sinus headache is preferable to a migraine — it doesn't really stand as a recommendation."
"Frankenstein would love Justice League. He'd recognize a kindred spirit in its ragged stitching, mindless momentum and vacant look behind the eyes, especially those belonging to Ben Affleck's emotionally inert Batman. The film is marginally better than last year's sour and dispiriting 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,' but that's like saying that dental surgery is preferable to passing a kidney stone."
"'Justice League' is a supersize snooze, a superhero mashup that is as stiff as Ben Affleck's upper lip. To be fair, this converging of comics is looser than last year's 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,' a numbing, pounding headache that set out to punish its viewers. You can at least see 'Justice League' trying to have fun. But there's a rote joylessness to it that makes it feel more like a work conference than a party. The spark you want to ignite between the cast mates barely registers as a flicker."
"They're finally able to come together, but Steppenwolf — save your 'Born to be Wild' jokes — is hardly worth their time. He's a C-grade villain with a generic plot and no personality and he never poses any real threat to the gang or the world at large, no matter how many special effects surround him. A superhero movie is only as good as its villain, and this one's a zero. The League's bigger problem, however, is themselves. Affleck's Batman remains wholly unconvincing, and Affleck seems embarrassed when he has to jaw his way through dialogue like 'people think the Doomsday Clock has a snooze button.' The Batsuit is like Kryptonite for Affleck, it robs him of his charisma as an actor — physically it doesn't even fit him well — and he looks like he's being held hostage on screen."
"The worst action movies, and this is one of them, are all about stretching out the action. There's no telling the story. There is only delaying the story. So there's a threat. A group is put together, and there's a fight. That's all director Zack Snyder has to work with. The screenwriters (Snyder among them) are at a loss to come up with something else, some richer or deeper element, some interesting tangent, and so they just make everything about this very simple, dull story take forever.
Of course, if it were a pleasure getting there, it wouldn't matter. The ride would matter, not the destination. But with the exception of Wonder Woman, these characters are duds, even Batman, who, in this iteration, is a self-important jerk whose one talent is the ability to take a punch. And the special effects are a disappointment. There's one shot in which we see Jeremy Irons, as Alfred the butler, literally turn into a video-game figure before our eyes. He's watching an aircraft take off, and as it does, a human figure becomes a cartoon. There's a metaphor here that's so obvious it's not worth stating."
"DC got off to a rocky start and then Patty Jenkins went and made a very good 'Wonder Woman.' And yet somehow it is no surprise that 'Justice League' tips the balances back in the wrong direction. Although marginally better than 'Batman v Superman' and 'Suicide Squad,' director Zack Snyder's latest is still a profound mess of maudlin muscles, incoherent action and jaw-droppingly awful CGI. It is big, loud, awful to look at and oh-so-dumb."
"The increasingly turgid tales of Batman and Superman — joined, unfortunately for her, by Wonder Woman — trudge along to ever-diminishing returns in Justice League. Garishly unattractive to look at and lacking the spirit that made Wonder Woman, which came out five months ago, the most engaging of Warner Bros.' DC Comics-derived extravaganzas to date, this hodgepodge throws a bunch of superheroes into a mix that neither congeals nor particularly makes you want to see more of them in future. Plainly put, it's simply not fun... Fatigue, repetition and a laborious approach to exposition are the keynotes of this affair, which is also notable for how Ben 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."