‘The Flash’ Review

To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, The Flash is a superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name directed by Andy Muschietti (IT) from a screenplay written by Christina Hodson (Birds of Prey). Featuring Ezra Miller, Sasha Calle, Michael Shannon, Ron Livingston, Maribel Verdú, Kiersey Clemons, Antje Traue, and Michael Keaton it is the 13th installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). The story follows Barry Allen as he travels back in time to prevent his mother’s death, which brings about unintentional consequences to his timeline.

In Central City Barry Allen/Flash (Ezra Miller) is running late for work. He stops by a local coffee shop to get his usual and realizes there is a different clerk at the counter. While waiting for his sandwich to be made he receives a call from Alfred (Jeremy Irons) requesting his assistance for a crime happening in Gotham. Since no other heroes are available Barry changes into his costume and speeds to help out. After arriving in Gotham, Flash works to fix a collapsing Gotham General while Batman (Ben Affleck) chases Al Falcone (Luke Brandon-Field) to recover a dangerous virus.

As the hospital continues to crumble, a nurse, some newborns, and a therapy dog are ejected from the building. Critically low on the energy required to maintain his speed, Flash eats some snacks from a falling vending machine so that he can save them all. On the other side of the city, Batman catches up to Falcone’s crew taking them out one by one before their vehicle drives over the side of the bridge. As Batman is about to drop Falcone into the water they are saved by Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) who pulls them both up to the bridge with her lasso of truth. Flash arrives to meet them and after revealing an embarrassing secret trying to remove the lasso from Batman’s arm he heads back to pick up his sandwich.

I am a big fan of the Flash. Except for the CW series I have watched every show where the character has been included. I enjoyed the versions we saw in Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, and Smallville. I have also enjoyed Ezra Miller’s quirky take on the crimson speedster. After seeing what Christopher Nolan did with the Joker in The Dark Knight, I like when directors take a chance on something new. Miller brings a complete understanding to the emotional devastation Barry feels about his mother’s death and his father’s false imprisonment. When he yells at his younger self about taking even the smallest gifts his mom gave him for granted was some of the most impactful dialogue in any superhero movie. Seeing him paired with his younger self works well as he can finally see how annoying everyone else thinks he is.

Ben Affleck once again crushes his role as Batman/Bruce Wayne. He moves like he’s right out of the comic book, pulling off stunts no other theatrical Batman has to date. The opening action sequence in this film just makes one weep at the thought that we may never see him dawn the cape and cowl again. He has a touching scene with Barry that shows how their friendship is growing. My only issue is that this version of the bat-suit didn’t quite work for me. It looked like he was wearing hockey pads. Seeing Michael Keaton return as a version of Tim Burton’s Bruce Wayne/Batman was also fun. Modern technology really allows us to see him fight better than in the original movies. This version replaces the Thomas Wayne Batman that appeared in the comic run and unfortunately, his backstory is pretty much non-existent. The only hint we get about his run as Batman is that it was successful as his Gotham is now one of the safest cities in the world.

In it’s own unique way this film is enjoyable and I can admit that I had a fun time watching it in the theater. That fact that used this movie to confirm that Zack Snyder’s Justice League is the canon version of the movie makes me very happy. While it’s clearly still a product of the old regime Muschieitti pays homage to Snyder on more than one occasion. Benjamin Wallfisch (Shazam!) does an amazing job with the score. Incorporating the original Wonder Woman theme brought a smile to my face. The Flash’s theme radiates youthfulness and wonder but at the same time feels very emotional and evokes Barry’s strong sadness in his predicament.

There are a few negatives. For a film that has been in development for such a long time, it makes zero sense for the CGI to look as bad as it does. Many sequences look as if they were ripped straight from a video game. Muschietti stated that the speed force scenes were intended to look that way but I’m not buying it. Also, this film reeks of studio interference. So many directors and writers have come and gone that the story is more of a shell of it’s original form. While Muschietti was able to cast the movie and put his stamp on the project it’s clear that it’s not his story. One of the few characters to carry over, Iris West (Kiersey Clemons) has almost nothing to do.

It’s not a secret that Walter Hamada intended for The Flash to be a soft reboot of the DCEU where Henry Cavill would no longer be Superman, being replaced by Sasha Calle’s Supergirl and Michael Keaton would return as Batman replacing Ben Affleck. This is further proven by the fact that Keaton was costarring in the now canceled Batgirl as the caped crusader and even shot scenes for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. (Eventually, his scenes were reshot with Affleck before both were scrapped from the picture) Lastly, telling a Flashpoint story with the character’s first solo movie is the dumbest thing a studio could do. That is a Justice League-level story that should be saved for a second or third film in the franchise.

This movie is not quite the perfect button to end the Snyderverse on nor is it the greatest superhero movie ever, but it is a fun time at the theater. Ezra Miller gives his best performance as the fastest man alive and it would have been great to see him continue in the role. I give The Flash a Decent 7.4/10. That being said if you’re going to watch any version of Flashpoint, the animated film Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is 1000 times better.

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