Reviews of Justin Timberlake's halftime show Sunday have generally not been kind, and Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times delivers a particularly devastating line: "This guy has nothing to say and just won't stop saying it." The sentiment applies not just to the halftime show but to Timberlake's new release, Man of the Woods. About the best that can said of Timberlake's Super Bowl performance is that "the tightly choreographed production was impressive from a logistics standpoint," writes Wood. Beyond that, there was almost nothing to enjoy. "The performance lacked soul, meaning, humor; it had no message, nor was it taking any stand—soft, hard or otherwise."
At least Timberlake didn't go ahead with rumored plans to perform with a hologram of Prince. Instead, he settled for a lesser version of the late superstar projected on a screen. But even that is inviting unfavorable comparisons to Prince's 2007 show, "which eclipses Timberlake's in every way," writes Maeve McDermott at USA Today. Prince actually sang, "while Timberlake let his backing tracks and background singers do the heavy lifting." Both reviews cite the kid with whom Timberlake took a selfie, though not in a positive light for the singer, because the teen seemed kind of uninterested in Timberlake himself. Meanwhile, Chris Willman at Variety finds better things to say of the show. "If it was more a feat of athleticism than aestheticism, you can’t say that’s entirely inappropriate for the occasion."