World Premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' Justice League - Arrivals - Los Angeles, California, U.S., 13/11/2017 - Fans in costume gather. (Xinhua/REUTERS)
by Julia Pierrepont III
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- "Justice League" won on film, but lost out in the North American box office. The latest installment in the Warner Brother's-DC Extended Universe punched in at only 96 million U.S. dollars opening weekend, failing to hit the expected 100 million U.S. dollar century mark, and delivering the lowest opening weekend for DC's Extended Universe to date.
Though it's grossed only 205 million U.S. dollars to date in North America, it fared far better internationally, racking up a 187 million U.S. dollars opener in 65 markets, making it the 25th highest opening film of all time. It has gone on to rake in 371 million U.S. dollars internationally, pushing its worldwide total to more than 576 million U.S. dollars to date.
The 58 percent male, 42 percent female opening day audience gave it a "B+" Cinemascore. Rotten Tomatoes gave it 82 percent audience score, but a low 41 percent Critic Score.
Eyebrows were raised when the Rotten Tomatoes rating post was delayed twenty-four hours beyond the usual date and Entertainment Weekly reported that Warner Bros (Time Warner) owns a 30 percent stake in Fandango, Rotten Tomatoes' parent company.
Delaying the release of the film's low Critic Score of 41 percent might keep word-of-mouth ticket sales for the movie from dipping too soon.
This apparent favoritism generated some controversy, prompting Guy Lodge, a contributing critic to Variety, to caution, "I think we need more transparency and equality on Rotten Tomatoes. An aggregation site should practice absolute objectivity."
Forbes.com countered with a report that WB had no part in the Rotten Tomatoes decision to delay posting the film's score, yet got most of the flack. It has since been disclosed by Rotten Tomatoes that they delayed the release without WB's participation in order to promote their new review show.
The New York Times reported, "Justice League," is looser, goosier and certainly more watchable than the last one. The bar could scarcely have been lower..."
"Justice League" is dark, maybe too dark. It's chock full of bruising brawls and action melees sporting swarms of winged mechanical insectoids, but short on the refreshing, off-beat humor and fan-boy bromance banter that Marvel riffs on with such ease.
Producer Noel Vega, who specializes in action films, told Xinhua, "Marvel really sets the bar for action pictures, combining deeper backstories with killer action. DC has definitely improved, but they're not quite there yet."
Even Wonder Woman's poignant reminder that, "The worst darkness is not the absence of light, it's the absence of hope that the light will return" - an important message we all need to hear - almost gets lost in the gloom.
Wracked by guilt from his role in Superman's death ("Batman vs Superman"), Ben Affleck's Batman/Bruce Wayne haunts the film as a morose loner begrudgingly driven by a dogged sense of duty.
When asked what his superpower is, Wayne quips, "I'm rich," but this is his only moment of levity in the film. Affleck's dour caped crusader drags the film down and sets a dark tone that the other characters can do little to elevate.
Even Gal Gadot, as Wonder Woman, who delivers her signature mix of heartfelt empathy and badass defender-of-the-righteous-ness, has lost some of her halo of infectious idealism as she struggles to step up to lead the team.
Ray Fisher plays an embittered Cyborg struggling to find anything positive about the "gifts" thrust upon him by a tragic lab accident, while Ezra Miller plays is a refreshingly quirky, geek Flash, but whose comedic interludes are hit or miss.
A heavily-inked Jason Momoa easily embodies the fierce, uber-masculine demigod, Aquaman, the Trident-toting Lord of the Savage Seas, who bursts from the briny depths like a ballistic missile.
"You can't save the world alone" is a telling refrain for a world embroiled in strife and discord. So, this crew of angst-ridden misfits grappling with their own isolation and inner demons must find a way to work together to save the world from villainous deity, Steppenwolf.
Screen Crush reported, "while the story is a tribute to the magic of collaboration, the film itself is a textbook example of too many creative voices pulling a project in too many directions."
The choppiness in the film may be the result of having two directors sequentially at the helm. Losing a director in mid-stream is always a challenge, especially on a film of this scale, and when Zach Snyder stepped down after the devastating tragedy of his daughter's suicide, he was replaced by Josh Whedon, director of "The Avengers: Age of Ultron," who had a very different style.
But who do we blame for what the Associated Press called "jaw-droppingly awful CGI"? With a huge budget close to 300 million U.S. dollars, there is no excuse for sub-par VFX that looks like orphan outtakes from "Green Lantern."
There are a lot of new faces stepping up to the plate this time around - Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg. One film couldn't hope to do their individual backstories justice, so fans are hoping for more installments helmed some of DC's finest.
Despite some drawbacks, the film nonetheless delivers what audiences crave in superhero action pictures: larger-than-life heroes, epic battle sequences, a formidable foe, and a countdown to world annihilation. The couple of genuinely touching moments in the film are a nice bonus and a window into the heart of a superhero.