It’s been a long, turbulent road for the DC Extended Universe filled with creative usurpation, rewrites, and a general lack of direction but this is it, The Flash Movie sees the end of the current slate of DC movies and will lead to the Rebirth of the franchise under James Gunn (who still made the best DCEU properties in The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker, and I won’t here otherwise).
The Flash itself has a pretty rocky history itself. The movie was meant to come out in 2018 but got pushed back following three directors backing out of the project, numerous rewrites going from a simple Fash to FlashPoint movie, and of course, its main star Ezra Miller being accused of assault, harassment, burglary, leading a cult and grooming minors alongside several arrests.
And yet despite all these problems, the end product is actually fairly competent with solid acting and a fun albeit messy story that pays tribute to the better aspects of this first DCEU incarnation even if it’s a little on the messy side.
Disclaimer: So regarding Ezra Miller. We cannot avoid the fact that they have committed some serious offenses which should not be forgotten or handwaved because they stared in a blockbuster movie. That being said, any grievances we have with The Flash will be solely based on the content of the film and not the behind-the-scenes allegations of its criminal actor.
Barry Allen, aka The Flash (Ezra Miller), decides to use his super speed power to travel back in time and save the life of his mother. Doing so, however, traps him in a new timeline where meta-humans were never discovered and the Justice League doesn’t exist. With General Zod invading the planet, Barry must team up with the alternate version of himself from the new timeline, convince a retired Batman (Michael Keaton) to step out of the shadows and find a hidden Kryptonian to become Super Girl (Sasha Calle) so they can hopefully set things right.
The plot of The Flash certainly zooms all over the place. The film moves fast going to the new timeline and assembling the impromptu justice league, speeding to different plot points with lots of time traveling and dimension hopping jargon and caked-in references to other DC properties. It can feel quite cluttered and confusing with everything that’s going on and the references do often feel distracting. That being said, the film is able to still make it exciting and you get clear information enough to understand the basic idea of what is going on.
One thing, the movie does extremely well is conveying the loneliness of Barry Allen. His mom’s dead, his dad is in jail, and the Justice League are busy with their own problems. You understand why he’d want to change things through time and the isolation of being the only person to experience knowing the better world with the league and be the person responsible for making things worse.
The World’s Finest
Despite my grievances with them as a person, I can’t deny that Ezra Miller does well not just playing one but two versions of Barry Allen, the young immature high school-age Barry, and the more responsible Barry of the original timeline that has wisened with his time as The Flash. They play well off each other making for some decent comedic scenes as well as the more emotional ones.
At its core, this is a story about Barry recovering from the loss of his mother and taking responsibility for his actions. As I said in the previous section, you very much feel the weight on his shoulders throughout the film and it’s shown with a good deal of subtlety.
I have to give the most credit however to Michael Keaton returning as the new timeline’s Batman, reprising the role after 30 years since Batman Returns. For an actor that feels so obviously brought in for fan service, Keaton is giving the role his all as an older, more jaded Batman. It’s very much a last-hurrah sort of role for this version of the character showing him as a little more laid back but still with the strong sense of justice we associate with the character.
The final of the main characters is Super Girl played by Sasha Calle. She does well as a more serious take on the character that very much plays up the more alien aspect of the character being locked in a bunker for most of her life. That being said, she really doesn’t get a lot of screen time, mostly just there for the later action scenes. She’s not the main character of course but it would have been nicer to see more development from her.
So you know how cool those slow-motion Quick Silver scenes were in the X-Men movies, well DC certainly knows how to use them for their movie and they used them well. The action does well at conveying the speed of The Flash, showing how he can save people in a blink of an eye. Even the quips while there, don’t feel as forced as say the recent Thor or Shazam movies did.
That being said, I sometimes felt that the CGI was a little overused in some areas. There were times when can tell everything was shot over a green screen and it felt a little too fake. It wasn’t that common though and there were still a lot of really cool effects. For example, I like that the original Flash runs with orange lighting, and the new timeline Flash uses blue, it’s a nice touch that shows they’re unique individuals despite being the same person.
The Flash is a solid end to the first attempt at the DC-shared cinematic universe. If I was to compare it to its peers, it’s not The Suicide Squad but it’s also far from being Suicide Squad (if you get what I mean). It does a good job of portraying the struggle of Barry Allen as he comes to terms with the consequences of his actions with a range of emotions brought about by his actor.
It was great seeing Michael Keaton as Batman again and while Supergirl needed more time to shine, she was still pretty cool. The overall plot is definitely a bit messy with the different timelines speeding forward, not helped by the film throwing tons of references in your face that often feel distracting from the main plot. That being said, underneath all that is a solid exploration of a man coming to terms with the death of his mother, and when The Flash focuses on running in that direction, it’s at its brightest.
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- Great look into Barry Allen's character
- Michael Keaton's still got it as Batman
- Action scenes are a lot of fun
- Plot can be confusing with all the time travel
- DC references often feel distracting and cheap