“The Flash” is a superhero blockbuster that manages to be both impressive and disappointing at the same time. It juggles a range of genres, from slapstick comedy to family drama, heavy metal action to philosophical science fiction, but struggles to find a consistent tone. The film constantly teeters between exceeding expectations and crashing into narrative walls.
Interestingly, it also explores the themes of time, parallel universes, and the malleability of canonical events, often resetting itself and starting over. Unfortunately, “The Flash” faces the challenge of following in the footsteps of “Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse,” a highly acclaimed superhero film that tackles similar concepts in a more innovative way.
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Ezra Miller’s Complicated Performance
Ezra Miller takes on the role of Barry Allen, a forensic scientist in his twenties who is secretly the superhero known as The Flash. Miller’s offscreen controversies cast a shadow over the film, making some of the raunchier comedic moments fall flat. Barry’s character is haunted by the murder of his mother and the wrongful imprisonment of his father.
Describing the meatier parts of the movie would delve into spoiler territory, but it’s worth mentioning that the trailers and marketing materials have already revealed significant plot points. Readers who wish to avoid spoilers may want to save the rest of this review for later.
Time Travel and the Quest for Redemption
Directed by Andy Muschietti and written by Christina Hodson, “The Flash” deserves credit for taking its ideas and character development seriously. It avoids falling into the trap of somber masculinity that plagues many superhero films. The story revolves around Barry’s attempt to change the past and prevent his family’s tragic fate.
However, as anyone familiar with time travel narratives knows, altering the past is never as simple as it seems. The film delves into the consequences and complexities of tampering with time, while also exploring the dual dynamic between Barry and an alternate version of himself.
Michael Keaton’s Subtle Performance
One of the film’s highlights is Michael Keaton’s return as an older, wearier version of Batman. His performance adds freshness to the story and complements Miller’s energetic portrayal of Barry.
Keaton’s Batman serves as a grounding presence, tempering Barry’s more erratic tendencies. Together, they embark on a mission to rescue an imprisoned Supergirl and face off against the villainous Zod.
A Battle for Multiple Realities
The film features a climactic battle that, unfortunately, falls short in terms of visual effects. The sequence, reminiscent of early-aughts video game cutscenes, is the film’s weakest moment. However, the battle’s philosophical undertones are thought-provoking. The two Barrys find themselves at odds over the merits and pitfalls of traversing different dimensions.
“The Flash” draws inspiration from Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” in warning against using science to defy nature, posing the question of whether it will succumb to the lure of wish-fulfillment or embrace a more thoughtful conclusion.
Callbacks and CGI Missteps
One of the film’s weaknesses is its excessive reliance on callbacks and fan service. Warner Bros. peppers the movie with references to previous incarnations of heroes and villains, which often feel unnecessary and distracting.
Moreover, the use of CGI to recreate deceased actors in the Chrono-Bowl scenes results in uncanny, unsettling visuals. The technology falls short, leaving characters looking like eerie, grotesque versions of themselves. It’s unclear whether these issues were due to budget constraints or technical limitations, but they significantly detract from the overall viewing experience.
Inconsistent Pacing and Plotting
“The Flash” suffers from pacing issues and inconsistent plotting. Some scenes drag on while others feel rushed, creating an uneven flow throughout the film.
The script attempts to balance multiple storylines, including Barry’s personal journey, the introduction of new characters, and the overarching conflict with Zod. Unfortunately, this results in a lack of focus and cohesion.
Supporting Cast and New Additions
The supporting cast in “The Flash” includes familiar faces like Ben Affleck’s Batman and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, but their appearances are limited and don’t add much depth to the narrative.
Sasha Calle’s Supergirl is introduced as a potential ally, but her character development feels rushed and underdeveloped. The film also introduces a new villain, Zod, played by an impressive Tony Todd.
However, Zod’s motivations and backstory are not adequately explored, leaving him as a one-dimensional antagonist.
A Glimpse into the Multiverse
“The Flash” hints at the existence of a multiverse, teasing potential crossovers and future storylines. This concept opens up exciting possibilities for the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), but it also feels like a missed opportunity.
The film doesn’t fully explore the multiverse’s implications, leaving viewers wanting more and wondering how it will be utilized in future films.
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Despite its flaws, “The Flash” manages to entertain with its mix of humor, action, and exploration of time travel. Ezra Miller delivers a charismatic performance as Barry Allen, and Michael Keaton’s return as Batman is a nostalgic treat.
However, the film struggles with inconsistent pacing, weak visual effects, and underdeveloped supporting characters. While it touches on thought-provoking themes and introduces the concept of the multiverse, it fails to fully capitalize on these elements.
Overall, “The Flash” is a rollercoaster of competence and incompetence, leaving audiences with a mix of excitement and frustration.