The Flash presents a familiar time travel concept. What if you could go back in time and save that one person who meant the world to you?
It’s a relatable concept that is universal in feeling across all generations.
Grief and loss are unavoidable commonalities in life, and death has no discrimination.
The Flash is not just a superhero story with fanservice, cameos, and humorous multiverse ideas.
It’s a touching story about moving forward.
Note: Before we go further, as a disclaimer, it must be made clear that this review is only a dissection of the film and the hard work of all the crew.
The Flash and Bat dynamic duo
We know Ezra Miller’s unfortunate choices over the past year or so and do not condone their actions. This review is about the film, not an endorsement of Ezra Miller.
Directed by Andy Muschietti (IT, Mama), The Flash sees Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) at his most Barriest. He is still the clumsy, quirky, easily distracted guy we met from Justice League. Only now, he and Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) are incredibly close friends. The connection is evident by the fact that Barry utilizes Alfred just as much as Bruce during a rescue mission.
From the outset, it becomes clear that The Flash is DC’s response to Spider-Man. Like Tony mentoring Peter Parker in the MCU, Wayne acts as a confidant and mentor to Barry whenever he needs advice. However, Affleck and Miller’s connection feels lacking compared to the Homecoming trilogy.
After a terrific opening involving a skyscraper rescue, the film pushes forward into the story’s heart. Barry’s father, Henry Allen (portrayed by Office Space star Ron Livingston), sits in prison for the death of his wife. The movie presents the elements of Nora Allen’s death similarly to the real-life case of Michael Peterson. Henry claims he was out of the house, and when he returns home, Nora (Maribel Verdú) is found fatally wounded.
And the only alibi Henry has is a scrambled surveillance tape which is insufficient to support his explanation. Having lost his mother, Barry becomes dismayed that he might lose his father to prison too, and in doing so, aggressively initiates speed force to the point that he learns a new power–Barry can now travel through time. And with the discovery, he hopes to return to his childhood and save his mother.
As seen in the trailers, reversing time and events leads to a series of unfortunate circumstances. Barry’s familiar Batman is no longer the same (enter Michael Keaton). Superman never made it to Earth, only another Kryptonian named Kara Zor-El (Sasha Calle), and many more cameos that will provide both applause and laughter.
Muschietti does a spectacular job balancing all the players, old and new. It feels reminiscent of The Avengers, where the adoration of the characters is so strong it feels like a child playing with action figures in a sandbox.
Christina Hodson’s script (with Joby Harold having story credit) balances all of the characters perfectly, giving ample time for emotional reveals to weigh in before huge spectacle payoffs.
Call it expectations, but the only character that felt like it needed more was Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman. This Batman serves more as a tool to explain the multiversal consequences of a time jump rather than as an important emotional element to the story.
The 1989 Batman does aid Barry in his quest, but having an emotional hook for Keaton’s Batman would have made the film stronger. It’s a welcomed return that should have had more purpose.
With all the cameos and fanservice moments, some aspects will be a mixed bag. It’s more noticeable after coming off of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, where every additional character means something to the overall experience. In The Flash, the execution of cameos, easter eggs, and fanservice is entertaining, but sometimes it can feel like a commercial for DC Studios.
The Flash is emotional and genuinely entertaining
Even so, The Flash is one of the best and most entertaining films within the almost extinct DC Extended Universe. It’s true to its characters, tells an emotional story, and has the spectacle to match. Simultaneously, the effort is frustrating because this is what DC should have been for the past decade.
There are forgivable decisions with the Snyderverse. For example, Man of Steel is a good attempt at giving moviegoers a Superman with flaws. It was a bit heavy-handed on the gloomy aspects of Kal-El, but at the very least, it aimed to depict an insecure messiah. Wonder Woman and Aquaman were also well-executed visions where the directors injected their personalities into the films.
But even with these spectacular ideas, Snyder crafted the early days of DC from a cynical perspective, where humanity questioned the motives of the saviors. The cynical choice was purposeful. Snyder wanted the DC heroes depicted as Gods among men. The intention was to make the DC icons feel larger and alienated from everyday people, alienating some viewers.
There is none of that present in The Flash. The affection for every one of these heroes shines. It never feels cold to the heroic personas. Even when a character is gloomy, such as Ben Affleck’s return as Bruce, there’s an endearing element about it.
Unfortunately, a segment of the viewing public will probably avoid this film. The direction is confident, the writing is full of humor and heart, and once upon a time, this would have been a star-making performance for Ezra Miller.
If moviegoers decide to see The Flash, it will satisfy the DC itch fans crave. If Ezra Miller is a concern, no one will fault the refusal. But the filmmakers and crew made an emotional and genuinely entertaining film. If moviegoers want to reward anyone, see it for the filmmakers rather than for Ezra.
The Flash is now playing in theaters.