Too bad Flash isn’t fast enough to outrun Ezra Miller’s real-life problems, or else this movie might have turned out better than it actually did.
More or less acting as the swan song for the DCEU before it’s officially rebranded and rebooted as the DCU, The Flash focuses on Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) and the lengths he would go to save his mother, Nora Allen (Maribel Verdú), from an untimely murder that has affected not only Barry’s life but the life of his wrongly accused and imprisoned father, Henry Allen (Ron Livingston). Taking it upon himself to run back in time and save Nora from her fate, Barry soon realizes that even with the best intentions, the time stream isn’t something to mess with. Causing a new timeline to manifest, one where superheroes like Superman and Wonder Woman don’t exist and where a second version of Barry lives a life of ignorance and irresponsibility, Barry must team up with a familiar but different version of Batman (Michael Keaton) to try and right the wrongs of his past and future self, hopefully saving his mother, father, and the rest of his universe in the process, a feat far easier said than done.
Acting as a loose (and I mean loose) adaptation of DC Comics’ iconic Flashpoint storyline, The Flash seemed to have all the right ingredients on paper — like a returning Michael Keaton as Batman, a new version of Big Blue in Sasha Calle’s Supergirl, and more multiversal shenanigans than fans can shake a comic book at — but somewhere along the way in making the transition from script to screen, something was lost in translation. Not only does this movie squander its storytelling with a third act that’s clearly been retooled and revamped more than once, but even the most hyped characters of this film are somewhat disappointing to see onscreen. I honestly didn’t care almost at all for Sasha Calle’s take on Supergirl, and even though it’s nice to see Michael Keaton’s Batman back in action, most of his stuff ends up being hit or miss depending on the scene in question, making this film much harder to swallow considering the potential that was lost is pretty clearly noticeable.
But for all the weird creative decisions stemming from the still-in-crisis DCEU cum DCU, Ezra’s offscreen insanity, and a studio that still hasn’t learned to stop meddling with movies that should just be left to the filmmakers who are actually making the film, there were more than a few times where I genuinely loved what I was watching onscreen. Coupled with a great, energetic score, time travel plot, and enough of an emotional backbone to keep Barry Allen’s journey interesting and relevant, director Andy Muschietti’s take on the Flash and his powers is quite simply breathtaking to see. From some great visuals and colors representing Flash’s speed to some interesting cinematography showing the Speed Force itself and even a few action scenes that were just plain fun to experience, like Keaton’s Batman kicking the shit out of a bunch of thugs Batfleck-style, there’s just barely enough going on here as to not make this one a total failure, an acceptable silver lining if there ever was one.
On a side note, I have to say that I really don’t like Ezra Miller as a person or even as Barry Allen/Flash, so while I didn’t exactly dislike what they brought to the table, either keeping Ezra around or recasting them wouldn’t really change much in the grand scheme of things, especially with the rebooted DCU just over the horizon, so to me, it seems like someone needs to cast Wally West’s version of the Flash and get this other fool out of Hollywood as soon as possible, a move that would effectively open up the door for an even better and more comic-accurate take on the Scarlet Speedster that we have yet to see.
The Flash is a hard movie to judge if only because, like the rest of the DCEU movies that were tampered with, changed, and completely revamped in the wake of some seriously bad reactionary decisions by Warner Bros., it never really stood a chance in becoming the film it was originally meant to be. Still, even with some pretty terrible character representation and overly jokey tone carrying over from the debacle that was Joss Whedon’s Justice League, a ridiculous reliance on shoddy CGI effects, and a third act that’s simply a mess, I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a blast while watching a lot of this film, making The Flash a movie that I can’t exactly say is good, but won’t say is anywhere close to being as bad as Aquaman and Wonder Woman 1984. Cuz those movies sucked. Hard.