the flash review

The Flash review | Worlds collide in DC’s latest superhero epic

★★★☆☆ From Andy Muschietti comes the controversial superhero tale, The Flash, starring Ezra Miller. Read our full review.

The Flash arrives with more baggage than the four ladies on holiday in Book Club 2. Ezra Miller, the titular superhero, has been accused of serious crimes in several states and has been kept away from the limelight for a year. It was recently announced that Miller would only appear at the World Premiere of The Flash for photos only and no interviews would be granted with the troubled star. 

The film itself has had a flood of rave reactions after Warner Bros. screened an “unfinished version” which wasn’t eligible for proper reviews but social media reactions were encouraged. James Gunn hailed The Flash as one of the best superhero films ever made months ago, but does it actually live up to the hype? 

Yes and no. After watching The Flash twice – the unfinished version seemed to have only been missing two scenes at the very end, neither of which made a huge difference to the plot – I can confidently say that it’s one of DC’s better offerings, but not without its flaws. 

Barry Allen (Miller) is trying to balance his double life as a regular Joe and a superhero in modern day Central City. His father’s upcoming appeal hearing is fast approaching; Barry is hoping he can find new evidence to prove his father didn’t murder Barry’s mother, but was at the store instead, picking up a can of tomatoes. 

Desperate to help his father and a little angry at the world, Barry figures out how to travel back in time to change the past so his mother would live. This causes all kinds of problems and Barry finds himself – literally – in a new future, where his mother is alive.

The Flash shares a lot of DNA with Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. Their stories are almost identical but the execution couldn’t be more different. One is an extravagant, artfully told animation and the other is a fast-paced, quick witted nostalgia trip. There’s nothing wrong with either, but it does make The Flash feel more dated than it should. Yet, it’s also endlessly entertaining and despite a rather bloated runtime, it never outstays its welcome. 

Michael Keaton, as previously announced, is returning to his role of the caped crusader. His Bruce Wayne here is less than glamorous, but the film banks a lot on the sheer cool factor of hearing Keaton murmur the words “I am Batman” again on the big screen. Sasha Calle excels in a disappointingly small role as Kara aka Supergirl, but The Flash often trips over its own ambitions. There are also a lot of cameos which we won’t spoil here and they range from pointless to genuinely inspired. Most of these, much like Keaton’s casting, only serve to appease fans rather than providing anything new or exciting to the already full-to-the-brim plot. 

the flash batman

Credit: Warner Bros.

Christina Hodson’s script is full of dumb jokes and a lot of clunky exposition, but surprisingly, the film’s emotional core is strong and relatable. The film boils down to Barry’s grief over losing not just his mother, but his father as he was wrongly imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. Some of the best moments in The Flash are just Barry, being Barry. As with most superheroes, it’s the human side that’s much more interesting than the superhero persona. 

The CGI is frustratingly bad for such a big release. The Flash was always going to be quite CGI heavy, but the film often favours computer imagery over real people, which works to only lessen the film’s impact. Director Andy Muschietti’s use of CGI has always been his weak spot in his previous films, It and It: Chapter 2. Otherwise, Muschietti provides inspired direction for his stars and the film is shot dynamically. 

But it all comes down to Miller’s performance. The actor is undeniably magnetic as Barry, especially as they’re allowed to develop the character further by having two different Barry Allen interact. It’s near impossible to separate Miller’s performance from the allegations that have been made against them; these cast an ugly, dark cloud over the film that dampens the whole experience. 

Miller is reportedly currently seeking help for mental health issues, but it still begs the question if we should ever champion a film like The Flash. I can’t answer that, but Miller’s performance isn’t what makes or breaks the film. 

The Flash sasha calle

Credit: Warner Bros.

The best parts of the film – the humour, Keaton, a bunch of CGI babies flying through the air – and the worst parts – the fan service, one particularly poor mental health joke that should have been cut out – exist despite Miller and it’s on these that we eventually judge The Flash on. 

Muschietti’s style of directing seems close to James Gunn’s; both love to bombard the audience with jokes and The Flash certainly is a sillier superhero film than we’re used to seeing on the big screen. There is much to love in The Flash but it’s also one of the most egregious cases of fan service.

The Flash is in cinemas 16 June. 

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