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Review: The Flash (2023)

The Flash (2023)

Directed by: Andy Muschietti

Premise: Following the events of Justice League, Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller) discovers that he can time travel. Barry returns to his childhood to prevent his mother’s murder but he causes ripple effects that upset space and time.

What Works: Superhero films have recently embraced the concept of the multiverse as seen in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Doctor Strange: The Multiverse of Madness. The Flash is yet another multiverse story but the filmmakers do it a bit differently and this is one of the better examples of this kind of tale. In many cases these multiverse stories allow studios to take a victory lap through their back catalogue of superhero properties and The Flash does this in a way that acknowledges the history of DC films. In that respect, The Flash plays a bit like The LEGO Batman Movie and it is geared toward a slightly older audience. The Flash is the first standalone film for this character since he was introduced in Justice League. The present movie serves as an origin story for The Flash but the time travel concept allows the filmmakers to present the character’s origin a little differently. The backstory is unveiled gradually through the action and the tragedy that defines his life is central to the plot. Barry Allen confronts his grief and works through the process, negotiating with the inevitable and ultimately achieving some level of acceptance. Barry’s grief over his mother’s death puts something organic and human at the center of this superhero adventure and The Flash achieves some effective emotional moments. Actor Ezra Miller deserves a lot of credit for their performance. The actor was the best part of the theatrical version of Justice League, giving that film a humanity that was lacking in other recent DC films. In The Flash, Miller has dual roles as two versions of the character and Miller creates distinctly different incarnation of Barry from each universe. Despite the dramatic subject matter, The Flash is also a lot of fun. Barry’s awkwardness is endearing and the action scenes contain some humor.

What Doesn’t: Like most contemporary superhero films, The Flash is reliant on digital effects and in this case the quality of those images is very uneven. Some portions of the movie look great and others look terrible especially digital versions of human beings which resemble characters from a Pixar movie. The Flash introduces Supergirl, played by Sasha Calle, and reintroduces Batman with Michael Keaton reprising the role for the first time since 1992’s Batman Returns. Calle is a good Supergirl and it’s nice to see Keaton back in the cowl but the film doesn’t do much with either of them. Supergirl isn’t much of a character and there is no particular reason to reuse Keaton’s Batman. It could be anybody in that role. Unlike bringing Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker into Spider-Man: No Way Home, the inclusion of Keaton’s Batman in The Flash doesn’t resolve any outstanding issues.

Bottom Line: If The Flash is to be the end of the DCEU that started with Man of Steel (and apparently it is) it’s a satisfactory conclusion. The film strikes a balance of action, humor, and emotional stakes that makes for a fun superhero film.

Episode: #954 (June 25, 2023)