The Flash Stars Ezra Miller, Sasha Calle and Michael Keaton and is Directed by Andy Muschietti
Review: The Flash doesn’t do the skeleton of the DCEU any favors. A cartoonish and goopy visual mess, the movie shows the worst of this expanded universe – cobbled together crossovers and derivative stakes.
I know that reading film critics and journalists constantly harp on the negatives of CGI and soundstages can feel a bit pretentious – or at best annoying. It’s why I try to stay away from bagging on a movie’s visual effects too much unless they’re either obnoxious or jarring. Taking into account the long hours spent by industry workers just to get movies completed on a visual level (thoroughly documented by publications much more involved then I am), I feel like my time is best spent critiquing other elements of a movie beyond a few unfinished frames.
Unless they’re truly abhorrent and disingenuous, insulting lifelike and authentic filmmaking that attempts to capture images in the real world. That’s the case with The Flash, a movie so cartoonish and trite it could only come from the previous regime responsible for flatlining the DCEU. Taken on its own terms – void of Ezra Miller controversies, although it’s hard not to think of them as the movie chugs along – The Flash still struggles to feel necessary, using previous movies to regurgitate content well-versed up to this point.
The movie starts in an odd fashion, using Barry Allen’s ability to run at the speed of lightning in order to save a crumbling building. Through these efforts, we get to see a version of Barry’s current life: his relationships with other superheroes (Ben Affleck’s Batman being revived for a delirious and flat cameo), and his beliefs in the greater good that spawned from the passing of his mother.
The latter would certainly feel more sincere if you could separate it from the shot of Barry storing a child in the microwave. A scene more laughably stupid than outright bad, I want this to come up in every conversation that ever pokes fun at Indiana Jones sheltering in a fridge – one is unforgivable and the other has Harrison Ford.
Moving past an opening showdown that features lifeless shots of gloopy skylines that I still can’t separate from being real or fake, The Flash is largely overstuffed with rehashing plot points. Barry sets off a chain reaction of unfortunate events after he goes back in time to save his mom years earlier. He has to assemble a new Justice League, but in reality just vomits out the whole history of the DCEU.
Michael Keaton appears in The Flash as Bruce Wayne – looking as empty on the outside as I’m sure Keaton is on the inside. He must’ve gotten a fat check for this because he’s still the only redeeming quality, even if the inclusion of him is a soulless decision to help put butts in seats (a strategy that ultimately did not pay off as The Flash did not perform to well in theaters).
I often thought of DC’s competitor while watching The Flash, worried that the upcoming multiversal installments of the MCU’s expanded universe may get similarly bogged down in exposition as they unfurl different corners of the same content sponge. I’m not sure I can sit through Spiderman stumbling his way into the lives of other Spidermen and explaining many movies worth of material the same way Flash does here.
Michael Shannon reappears as the big bad General Zod. Shannon may have only had a few days to film because he doesn’t make much of a presence. He looms over many of the events in The Flash, but he rarely makes it known that he’s a major player in this story until the third act.
Reviews for Films like The Flash (2023)
And said third act just amplifies many of the problems I had with the first two. The CGI is monumentally bad – and the excuses for it being a generated playground not fully realized until Zod can complete his takeover is so laughably bad. I’ll give The Flash some backhanded credit: it’s the first movie I think I’ve seen where the visual effects are intentionally unwatchable, so there’s some moviemaking history to that.
I was aware of a few of the cameos that would appear when Barry let the many universes loose in the third act, like Nicolas Cage sporting the Superman costume, or the gross approach to implementing Adam West into this as Batman – but they are so much worse when you see them in action. A redeemable first two acts could’ve made this manageable, but it feels so tacky and distasteful when melting them all together.
I did sincerely laugh one time during The Flash, so I feel I should at least acknowledge that one funny joke. There’s a moment when multiple Barry Allens argue over who stars in Back to the Future, because in this alternate universe established by this narrative, Eric Stoltz stars instead of Michael J. Fox. A good laugh line, but even that is regurgitated to the point of exhaustion.
I capital ‘H’ Hated The Flash. The worst movie I’ve ever seen where a can of tomatoes serves as the plot engine – I’m not sure what else qualifies, but I venture to guess it’s better than this. I just want to thank Robert Pattinson for not agreeing to do this. When does The Batman 2 come out? 2025? Sigh.
Watch The Flash on Max and VOD
The Flash Movie Cast and Credits
Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash
Sasha Calle as Supergirl
Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman
Michael Shannon as General Zod
Ron Livingston as Henry Allen
Maribel Verdú as Nora Allen
Kiersey Clemons as Iris West
Director: Andy Muschietti
Cinematography: Henry Braham
Composer: Benjamin Wallfisch
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