Starring: Ezra Miller, Michael Keaton, Sasha Calle, Kiersey Clemons, Michael Shannon, Ron Livingston, and Maribel Verdú
Director: Andy Muschietti
To say The Flash has traveled a bumpy road would be an understatement, but, for the most part, it was worth the wait. In many ways, it’s DC’s version of an MCU movie. It’s surprisingly funny while maintaining a solid emotional core, and the action scenes are a blast. Plus…and I admit nostalgic bias…the Michael Keaton and Danny Elfman of it all, who are featured way more than I expected, made me giddy with joy. It’s not one of the “greatest superhero movies ever” like James Gunn said, but it’s at least Top 3 for the DCEU and better than most of Marvel’s Phase Four.
While it’s certainly better than it has any right to be given where its tumultuous production started from, The Flash nonetheless buckles a bit under the weight of a thematically confused message that seems to actively work against everything the film is doing. It’s a fairly average offering with decent set-pieces and solid side characters, but Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) is no more compelling here than he was before. Meanwhile, the humor still mostly goes for the easy jokes, which end up falling flat. That said, the film works best when it leans into its heart.
The Flash is not one of the best superhero movies ever made. In fact, it’s one that has left my mind almost entirely. If nothing else, it’s a fun time travel/superhero film, with some of the emotions landing as intended, but that’s about it. Sasha Calle is my personal standout, even if her character isn’t well-utilized, and while the film isn’t a cameo fest, there is some soulless nostalgia-baiting. Add in that it gets needlessly convoluted, especially in the final act, and boasts CGI that is, to be blunt, terrible, and you’ve got a movie I’d recommend lowering your high expectations for.
Director Andy Muschietti understood the damn assignment: set the tones early, blend them together beautifully, and have a fucking blast. He directed The Flash into a comic-book film that is more fun than I’ve had with one in a while, paying homage to the campy greatness of early superhero films while also utilizing the genre’s best evolutions to their utmost ability. The comic book aspects are cool as hell, the emotional beats connect, the humor isn’t forced, and the performances are all solid. Yes, the CGI is what it is, but I didn’t care because the film was a vastly enjoyable experience.
The Flash isn’t perfect. A lot of the action looks like it's taken straight from a video game cutscene, and most of the cameos feel hollow since they add nothing to the story. Despite that, the film itself is well structured. Michael Keaton doesn’t miss a beat returning as Batman in a sizable role, while Sasha Calle provides an alternative Kryptonian that pleasantly shakes up the landscape. You probably know by now if you're a fan of Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen or not, but he does provide some particularly emotional scenes here. Is this film the greatest of all time? No. Is it fun? Yes.
The Flash may not be my favorite DCEU film, but boy it is up there! This movie has a whole lot of heart, laughter, and bombastic action. While it’s noticeably flawed, including the clunky third act and odd CGI choices, it still manages to be a riveting comic book movie that delivers the goods. The way director Andy Muschietti is able to balance all these characters without taking the limelight away from Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) is something that deserves recognition. As we know, the multiverse can be a tough thing to execute, and DC managed to pull it off pretty damn well this time.