The Flash Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
After a long, rocky road, the scarlet speedster finally made it to theatres all around the globe. But is this superhero flick worth watching, or is it another failure by Warner?
Genre: Action / Adventure / Fantasy
Director: Andy Muschietti
Cast: Ezra Miller, Michael Keaton, Sasha Calle, Kiersey Clemons, Michael Shannon, Ron Livingston, Maribel Verdú, Jeremy Irons & Ben Affleck.
Run Time: 144 min.
US Release: 16 June 2023
UK Release: 16 June 2023
German Release: 15 June 2023
Welcome to my Superhero Sunday review for The Flash! Concerning all the background drama, including multiple directors that were attached to the project, leaving due to creative differences, as well as the screenplay that saw many changes, it is a miracle we obtained a film at all. Then there are the disputes, plus multiple arrests that lead actor Ezra Miller was implicated in, just like the decision by Warner to reboot the franchise. As such, I wasn’t really interested in this blockbuster. To my surprise, it was much better than it had any right to be! So, grab your running shoes, as we speed through my review for this comic book adaptation.
When Barry Allan uses this power to run back in time to save his mother, the paradox creates a world without super-powered people. As General Zod returns to enslave Earth, Allan’s only hope of defeating him rests in the hands of a retired Batman, another Barry and an imprisoned Kryptonian.
Plans for a blockbuster based on the DC character of the scarlet speedster began as early as 1980. The production was stuck, however, as writers and directors kept leaving over creative differences. Finally, in 2013, with the creation of the DCEU that launched with Man of Steel that same year, the project gained some traction again. Miller was cast as Barry Allen, making cameo scenes in 2016’s Batman V Superman just like Suicide Squad. Consequently, Warner set a date for a Flash feature to be released in 2018.
The constant studio interferences forced the movie to lose its 2018 release slot, as again a string of directors left the project due to creative differences. Finally, in early 2018, writing duo John Francis Daley plus Jonathan Goldstein were hired to conceive a plot idea based on the “Flashpoint” arc. Muschietti had been appointed as director end of 2019, with Christina Hodson refining the script. The tone contains enough humour without overcooking it.
A narrative based on “Flashpoint” has been the right choice, as it creates a continuation of the already established, but includes an origin story most creatively. This is a surprisingly intimate character study that sees the lead learning about himself by, hanging out with a younger version of himself. Suffering from self-esteem issues, never having felt appreciated even among his hero friends, Barry plunges into a quest to save his mother, only to learn that his actions have catastrophic effects. Among the strongest aspects is the last act’s emotional punch, as he learns what he needs to give up to fix what he broke.
Unfortunately, that adventure of self-discovery takes a step back, as we are re-introduced to Michael Keaton as Batman around the middle mark. The second act, while incredibly fun, serves as a huge fan service ploy that turns Flash into the sidekick in his own movie.
The dialogues are surprisingly deep, including a conversation between Barry plus Bruce, in which the latter gives the former some strong advice about finding his own path in life. The talks between Barry and his mother Nora are surprisingly sentimental.
Ezra Miller reprises his role as Barry Allen, a.k.a the Flash, in a double role. Honestly speaking, I was on the fence watching a flick that stars an absolute ass of a human being in the leading role, yet sadly I need to confess that he knocked it out of the park. Though the narrative itself is an emotionally tragic one, it is the character of Barry himself that serves as the comedic anchor of the plot, through his quirkiness and possible ADHD, which Miller perfectly enacts. That said, it never uses those traits to ridicule him.
Ben Affleck returns as Bruce Wayne in a cameo to portray the original DCEU’s Batman, serving as a mentor to Allen. Michael Keaton portrays the character in a split reality of the grander DC multiverse. Keaton recaptures the charisma of the Bruce he played back in 1989 through 1992. Is it pure nostalgia bait? Mostly yes, to the point that he downplays Flash in his own tale. However, he also serves as a confidant to Barry.
Sasha Calle plays an intriguing Kara Zor-El, a.k.a Supergirl, giving her an unusual spin compared to other portrayals. This is a much darker, angrier version of the character, that has been given the “Flashpoint” backstory of Superman. Unfortunately, her persona isn’t really explored, as she is only a small part of the blockbuster.
Ron Livingston replaces Billy Crudup, as Barry’s father Henry Allen, taking some getting used to, as Crudup gave a solid performance in Snyder’s Justice League. Spanish actress Maribel Verdú, is the emotional key point, giving a beautiful rendition as Nora Allen, Barry’s mother.
Further cast members that are wasted, are Michael Shannon as Zod, just like an unneeded cameo by Gal Gadot. Kiersy Clemmons gets criminally little screen time as Iris West. Finally, there is a surprise mid-credit scene, revealing an actor reprising a role we never wanted to see again!
The camera work contains a lot of creative shots that are beautiful to look at. The action segments, including a fantastic opening sequence in Gotham City, are generally well-conceived but overshadowed by the horrible computer effects. The colour palette, especially around Barry himself, is strong and bright, yet the surrounding setting becomes more desaturated along the middle mark, once the big threat appears.
While there are interesting effects that do work, such as the double Millers interacting with each other, the CGI is among the worst I have seen. The speed force, a lot of the superpowered fights, as well as the slow-motion people when Flash is moving at high speed, all look unfinished. The scene close to the finale, featuring specific characters, looks like a Playstation 2 cutscene. This is simply unforgivable for a motion picture of this magnitude!
Verdict: It has been a long, long road, but we finally obtained a movie revolving around DC’s fastest man alive. The screenplay is surprisingly genuine, focusing on self-discovery, emotional trauma, as well as learning from one’s own mistakes. The atmosphere is heartfelt, containing some big emotional punches at the end, interwoven with well-placed comedic elements that don’t overdo it. Unfortunately, most of those story aspects are shelved for the second act, which focuses too much on nostalgia and pushes Keaton’s return as Batman to the front, benching the main character. Miller is great in the title role, something I don’t say lightly given his recent past. He sells Allen’s quirkiness and ADHD characteristics. Michael Keaton nails it once again as Bruce Wayne. Sadly, the interesting portrayal of Sasha Calle as Supergirl doesn’t obtain the screen time it deserves. The cinematography is artistically creative, however, the special effects are terrible. The Flash deserves a 7.5 out of 10.
Have you seen this last DCEU film yet? Are you planning to? Leave a comment below to let me know what you thought! Thank you very much for reading!