The Flash

  • 24 Jun - 30 Jun, 2023
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

The Flash is one of the most amazing and infuriating mixed bags of the superhero movie age; it is simultaneously thoughtful and clueless, challenging and pandering. It contains both the best and worst digital effects work I've ever seen. It consistently exceeds any expectations we may have for its competence just to immediately face-plant into the closest wall, much like its genuine but frequently helpless hero. When it comes to time, parallel universes, and the question of whether "canonical" events in a person's life or an entire dimension can be altered, The Flash keeps repeating its narrative action by pressing the reset button and starting anew. It arrives on screens immediately after 'Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse', a high watermark for both superhero movies and major studio animated features that explores many of the same themes, and suffers the double misfortune of being its own worst enemy from beginning to end, despite genuine thoughtfulness and an intriguingly unstable cocktail of genres (slapstick comedy, family drama, heavy metal action flick, philosophically driven science fiction adventure).

Barry Allen, a twenty-something forensic scientist and secret superhero who feels like the "janitor" of the Justice League and is still dealing with the effects of his mother's murder and his father's unjustly imprisoned for the crime, is portrayed by Ezra Miller, whose off-screen run-ins with the law make some of the movie's raunchier comedy land poorly. It's bad form to discuss the movie's more interesting parts because doing so would require going into great detail about the plot, but at the same time, a lot of it has already been "spoiled," not just on social media and online forums but also in the movie's own trailers and marketing materials (Warner Bros. provided the image at the top of this review) and on Wikipedia. This is another instance of The Flash's double-bind.

Those who continue to read: Remember the scene from the 1978 version of Superman: The Movie, where Christopher Reeve's Superman had to decide between preventing a nuclear missile from reaching Miss Tesmacher's state and saving his beloved Lois Lane from being killed in an earthquake, tried to do both, lost Lois, then went back in time to resurrect her? Barry's choice to attempt time travel and alter one detail on the day his family was killed led to the expansion of that scene into a full movie and its fusion with the "Back to the Future" series.

Dad (Ron Livingston) was dispatched by Mom (Maribel Verd) to the neighbourhood grocery store to pick up a can of tomatoes that she needed for a recipe. When little Barry hears a disturbance and rushes downstairs, he discovers his mother lying on the kitchen floor, a knife slashed through her bloodied chest, and his father sobbing over her body while holding the knife's hilt. Barry thinks he can use his Flash abilities to go back in time to that terrible day, put a can of tomatoes in Mom's shopping basket, and save both of his parents. Anyone who has watched a time travel movie or read The Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury is aware that it is not that easy.

The The Flash film, which was directed by Andy Muschietti ("Mama," "both" "It" movies), and was written by renowned genre screenwriter Christina Hodson ("Birds of Prey," "Bumblebee"), deserves praise for treating its themes and the suffering of its characters seriously without succumbing to gloomy, lifeless machismo. Miller meets a different version of himself with an intact, happy family when he enters what he thinks is "the past" (it's actually an alternate timeline), and he befriends and mentors the other Barry while learning along the way how unpleasant he can be to others.

Muschietti also contributes a gripping vision of the action in the movie with camerawork that closely follows moments to add an essential feeling of scale. But 'The Flash's' weakest component is its clumsily executed CGI. In addition to the scenes involving the two Barrys, a significant plot device necessitates considerable VFX, which is improper. It suggests that the plot is undergoing several modifications with little time to focus on this crucial component. Whatever the case, both new and longtime fans will find plenty of cloud-pleasing moments.

As the studio sets out on what appears to be a new course, it is unclear what will become of these people. Thanks to Muschietti's distinct tone and execution, 'The Flash' undoubtedly succeeds if it is designed to bookend the DCEU of the last ten years or so.