The Flash is a 2023 science fiction superhero film directed by Andy Muschietti, written by Christina Hodson, produced by Warner Bros. Pictures, DC Studios, Double Dream, and The Disco Factory, and distributed by Warner Bros. It is based off of various Flash comics by DC Comics, specifically Geoff John's 2011 miniseries, Flashpoint. The film stars Ezra Miller and Michael Keaton. This is the fifteenth project in the DC Extended Universe, being the fourteenth film. It was preceded by Shazam! Fury of the Gods, Man of Steel, Zack Snyder's Justice League, and Batman Returns and will be followed by Blue Beetle, Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow, and Superman: Legacy.
"Want some help?" - Batman
When Barry Allen travels back in time to stop his mother from dying and stop his father from being accused of her murder, he changes the entire timeline as he knows it. Now, Barry must team up with an alternate Batman and a different version of himself to find a Kryptonian to help stop General Zod from destroying the world.
If you are a DC fan, you will have fun with The Flash.
Similar to Across the Spider-Verse, this movie acts as a massive love letter to everything DC. Obviously, it's a Flash film, but it explores the backstories of multiple characters and revisits iconic moments in the DC canon. It feels very much like a Flash-centric Justice League story, which I absolutely loved. If you have read any DC comics or know anything beyond the movies, too, this movie will be a complete blast for you.
The Flash also draws from Flashpoint, a comic-book storyline about Barry Allen going back in time to save his mother and changing the future in the process. This is a DCEU adaption of that storyline, and it is super cool. Just to see the Flashpoint comic come to life while also changing the events of the DCEU is an awesome concept that is executed really well. It draws all of these awesome things from past movies back in and bakes them into the story really, really well.
I thought that three out of our four main characters were really good. Our main Barry has a great, emotionally resonant arc that fleshes him out as a character more. You see a darker side to this goofier version of Flash, which I really appreciated. And, of course, you have to talk about Michael Keaton's return as Batman. I'm in high school, so I obviously didn't grow up with him as Batman, but I still like his movies and had tons of fun seeing him return. They give him a bunch of classic Batman things to do that just steal the show every time. Finally, Sasha Calle's Supergirl was a really fun addition. She's not in a ton of it, but she has this awesome blend of Superman's humanity with Zod's Kryptonian anger, and it makes her a very intimidating and powerful ally. I hope she is Supergirl in James Gunn's DCU. I think she was awesome.
The action sequences here are also incredible. The Flash has a unique power set beyond just super speed, and they give us all of these awesome powers that he uses to fight. The way that Andy Muschietti visualizes Flash's speed is also really cool. The DCEU uses way too much slow-mo in its movies, but it makes sense here. Instead of just slowing the movie down and being annoying, the slow motion allows for some amazing, unique action choreography that makes these action sequences stand out.
This movie also feels like the most complete entry in the DCEU. The DCEU has been one of the most problematic movie franchises of all time. Since Man of Steel, there has been mess after mess after mess. Controversies, box office bombs, terrible reviews...and, suddenly, The Flash pays all of that clunkiness off. The first thirty-ish minutes of this film feel like a lived-in DC universe where the Justice League exist. It feels like an established, connected world, which I've never been able to say about the DCEU. It almost makes me feel sad that we're resetting. Almost.
So, yes, The Flash is a fast-paced, super fun ride for DC fans and superhero fans in general. It definitely isn't perfect, though.
The initial reactions to this movie had it spelled out as "one of the greatest superhero movies ever made", and that simply is not true. It's fun. It's highly entertaining. It's a good Flash movie. It's a good multiverse movie. But it isn't anywhere close to one of the greatest superhero movies ever made.
First off, I think this movie is too silly sometimes. The alternate Barry Allen that we meet is an incredibly goofy character that too often undercuts tense or dramatic scenes with jokes. It very much feels like the typical MCU humor problem. Keaton's introduction feels less cool and exciting because the scene is played so much more for humor than it is with this slow, dramatic build.
I also don't quite understand how the CGI in this movie is this bad. If you've read other reviews, everyone is complaining about the CGI, because it looks like a cheap video game. It looks unfinished. That is completely inexcusable for a movie with this budget from this studio that has been delayed this many times. I understand that VFX workers are overworked, but sometimes, it feels like CGI is just getting worse as the technology improves. It looks so rubbery and fake and can be extremely distracting.
I think the fan service and cameos in The Flash also feel...forced. They feel more in line with the Multiverse of Madness cameos than they do with the No Way Home cameos. It feels like there are multiple people that are just there so the audience can go "Whoa! I know that character!", but it doesn't have any actual weight or meaning. There's a certain cameo that really makes me unhappy and has been blowing up the internet. Of course, I'm not spoiling it here, but it's not really good or earned. It just feels like a cheap nostalgia gimmick.
Finally, I think that this movie doesn't fully satisfy near the end. The final battle is awesome and epic, but the way that it's resolved with the reveal of who the villain actually is was anti-climactic, rushed, and somewhat predictable, even. It doesn't fully take away from the movie as a whole, but it does feel like a fantastic finale ends on a bit of a whimper. The emotional aspect of the film is resolved in an incredible way, but the action-superhero part of it is less exciting than it should be.
Oh, and the post-credits suck. You can stay if you want, but have no expectations. They are at the very end and have basically no meaning whatsoever.
Final Thoughts and Score
The Flash is not great, but if you want a fun, fast-paced ride that will put a smile on your face as a DC fan, you will have a good time with this. It's entertaining, and that is enough.
I will go Savory here. Age range is 8+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad)
Fun Factor: 8/10
Directed by Andy Muschietti
Rated PG-13 for superhero violence and action, language, disturbing themes and images, thematic elements
Released on June 16, 2023
2 hours and 24 minutes
Ezra Miller as Barry Allen / The Flash
Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne / Batman
Sasha Calle as Kara Zor-El / Supergirl
Michael Shannon as General Zod
Ron Livingston as Henry Allen
Kiersey Clemons as Iris West
Maribel Verdú as Nora Allen
Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne / Batman
Antje Traue as Faora-Ul
Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth