Friday 16 June 2023

The Flash (Movie Review)

The Flash finally graces cinemas this weekend after spending nearly a full decade in active development. But following the lukewarm reception Shazam! Fury of the Gods had received during its shortened theatrical run, you'd be forgiven for thinking this was just another remnant of the DCEU as started with Man of Steel back in 2013. The question then is does this new movie actually warrant going out to see or are you better off waiting for it to hit streaming or skipping it entirely?

The film centers upon Barry Allen (Ezra Miller), the titular metahuman who is having trouble balancing his role as a member of the Justice League with working to prove his father's innonence in the case of his mother's death. And the fact that he is able to speed through the world around him isn't exactly helping. But when he inadvertently discovers that he also has the ability to phase through time, he makes the decision to travel back in time to save his mother from dying in the first place. Except this ends up having dire consequences on the current timeline as well as wide-reaching ramifications for the multiverse as a whole.

Stop me if it sounds like you've heard that plot synopsis before because it sure seems like multiverses are Hollywood's current obsession. And in the wake of the recently-released Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, the bar of quality has been raised tremendously high for these types of movies. Gone are the days when a few throwaway cameos and visual gags were all it took to get us hooked and invested. Nowadays, audiences are sophisticated enough to demand that those cameos serve the narrative ala Spider-Man: No Way Home or at the very least bring something of substance to the movie.

I say all that to explain how the landscape had changed since the first trailer for The Flash dropped and why I had approached the film with some measure of apprehension, even as I was eager to see how it would build upon the events of the DCEU and the larger DC library of stories. I basically wanted to know what it did with the foundation already laid by Zack Snyder and others and if it pushed the narrative forward in any meaningful way or if it merely served as the reset button for the franchise many believed that it was.

Thankfully, it didn't take too long into the movie before I discovered that I had very little to worry about. Director Andy Muschietti clearly has a deep understanding of the title character as well as the famous Flashpoint storyline and he indeed manages to do both justice (no pun intended) over the course of his movie. The film respects the existing canon while still finding fun and inventive ways to expand upon it. A lot of it can be considered nostalgia bait though, as it did tend to lean heavily into the Easter eggs and references without really giving most of it any real narrative weight.

The film also has some truly impressive action setpieces that rank as some of the very best in the DCEU. The Flash's abilities are used to great effect throughout the film and they never ceased to be fun to look at. The third act did fall into the trap of being too reliant on spectacle though and the stylistic way some of the CGI characters were rendered might rub some people the wrong way as it creates an uncanny valley effect that feels out of place in a production of this size and budget.

But the area where the film really excels in my opinion is in its heartfelt narrative. As tired as the time travel trope might be nowadays, it is the very real emotions that propel our heroes to do the things they do that kept me most engaged with the movie. Their real-life shenanigans asides, Ezra Miller absolutely shines in the dual role of Barry Allen. It was also nice to see both Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton reprise their respective roles as Batman, although a part of me wishes that the former was given a bit more to do in the film.

The Flash is the closest thing to a fitting swansong that the DCEU could possibly hope to get at this point. It is also a fun and action-packed superhero romp in its own right, one that is elevated by the performance of its lead star. Whether you choose to go out and see it should probably come down to how much you valued the entries that came before it. And as a fan of the overall DCEU, barring one or two weaker installments, I'd say it is one of the better ones in the entire collection.


  1. The difference in critic rating and fan rating is huge - it's almost 100% with fans, which is what I trust more. Seeing it today at lunch and looking forward to it. Shame it is, as you say, a swan song. This run had some great films. I'd say Snyder's extended Justice League is the best superhero film ever. (My wife says Wonder Woman, of course!)

    1. Wow. That's some very high praise for ZSJL but I can certainly see why. Hope you enjoy The Flash as well.

  2. I liked some of the DCEU movies (Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Shazam mostly) and BvS and Justice League tried hard to separate DC from Marvel. The Flash is not one of my favorite characters so I'm not hugely invested in seeing this, though I probably will at some point.

    1. Totally understand. I'm not the biggest Flash fan myself.