The Flash is now showing in cinemas nationwide.
Some movies are magic; you go into these movies as a world-weary adult and come out of them feeling like a giddy and excited kid. These movies are rare, and Andy Muschietti’s The Flash is one of them. Muschietti’s long-awaited film soars as it embraces a Richard Donner-inspired comic book world that has been sadly missing in many recent DC outings; it’s a world where humour, eye-popping action and emotion combine with electric performances, escapism and, most importantly, fun.
Of course, The Flash didn’t have a smooth ride to the screen, facing multiple challenges that could have resulted in disaster. It battled a changing DC Universe, fan expectations, the Warner Bros and Discovery merger, Ezra Miller’s offscreen behaviour, and reshoots. For most movies, even one of these would have been enough to derail the whole project; therefore, it’s a testament to Muschietti that The Flash made it through! However, Miller’s behaviour also leaves us with a problem as critics; do we base a review purely on the offscreen life of the star or accept that movies are bigger than one individual? Here critics face a tricky balancing act; for example, there is no doubting Miller’s superb and energetic performance, but the concerns surrounding their behaviour overshadow this brilliance. However, this isn’t purely Miller’s movie; it’s an ensemble piece that sees Keaton remind us why he is and will always be Batman and Sasha Calle soar as Supergirl. Add to that Muschietti’s inspired direction, an outstanding score that pays homage to DC movie history, vibrant cinematography and a stunning screenplay, and The Flash manages to circumnavigate the problems surrounding its journey to the screen.
Loosely based on Flashpoint, Muschietti’s movie is lightning in a bottle, and that’s largely down to it never taking itself too seriously as it weaves its way through a bowl of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey spaghetti. Despite warnings from Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), Barry (Miller) travels back in time to prevent his mother from being murdered when he was a child, saving his father from being falsely imprisoned for her murder in the process. But things quickly get weird as Barry finds himself trapped in a very different universe with his other self, a geeky eighteen-year-old with no powers. It is a universe where Eric Stoltz starred in Back to the Future (an ongoing gag), Superman doesn’t exist, and General Zod (Michael Shannon) has just arrived, ready to wipe out humanity. However, when all seems lost, Barry discovers from Barry that this world has a Batman (Micheal Keaton) who has long since vanished from public view, so they set off in search of the Bat, and the hidden Kryptonian Zod has come to destroy. The result is a fast-paced, thrilling rollercoaster ride with more than a few surprises as it twists and turns toward its mesmeric and emotional finale.
(L-R) EZRA MILLER as The Flash, MICHAEL KEATON as Batman and EZRA MILLER as The Flash in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “THE FLASH,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
At its core, The Flash is a movie about trauma and what we choose to do with the deep wounds that make us who we are. Do we accept these wounds may never heal and learn from them or attempt to change them? Within these discussions, The Flash finds its emotional centre as Miller’s Barry attempts to rewrite the childhood trauma that made him who he is, allowing Keaton’s ageing Batman to offer a simple but striking piece of advice “The scars we have, make us who we are. We’re not meant to go back and fix them. Don’t let your tragedy define you.” In many ways, Keaton’s Batman offers Barry something that Afflecks never could, a fatherly figure who trusts and believes in Barry despite the madness around them.
It is hard to believe it is over thirty years since Keaton last donned the famous bat suit because it’s as if he never left. This may be an older and wiser Batman, but the glint in his eye hasn’t faded, nor has the energy, drive and appeal of his sublime performance. Keaton was born to play Batman, and The Flash proves it. At the same time, Sasha Calle’s Kara Zor-El is the Supergirl we have been waiting for. Calle’s performance is full of fire, emotion and energy, leaving us eager for more as the credits roll; whether that will happen is yet to be seen, but Calle’s Supergirl really does deserve a second outing.
Muschietti’s fast-paced and energetic movie is a joy, from its opening scenes to its last. Yes, it includes moments designed for fan service. But, like all the best DC outings from Superman the Movie to Wonder Woman and Batman, it has something for everyone. It may not fully press the DCU reset button as promised, but if The Flash is a sign of things to come, then DC has a bright cinematic future. The Flash is a must-see summer spectacular that wears its heart on its sleeve, offering us a wild, witty and wonderful celebration of the Scarlet Speedster.
Musheitti’s fast-paced movie is a joy, from its opening scenes to its last. Yes, it includes moments designed for fan service. But, like all the best DC outings from Superman the Movie to Wonder Woman and Batman, it has something for everyone. It may not fully press the DCU reset button as promised, but if The Flash is a sign of things to come, then DC has a bright cinematic future.