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Review: The Flash – “Highly Entertaining”

As a comic book film, The Flash delivers on the DC Universe. A strong story, cameos and lessons to learn, it’s a faithful character study of the scarlet speedster. Outside of the film though is a long, troubled tale of production issues and the star going AWOL. There’s a real tension in seeing this film in isolation, though I was happy with the film, I can see how this may not be in the right taste.

The Flash is a furious rush from start to finish, even the opening credits are ripped through at super speed. The first 15 minutes of The Flash has him and Batman rushing around to save Gotham in a superb throwback to more traditional cape heroics. Though the version I first saw had an extended rescue which made his actions logical in context whereas the theatrical cut leaves out too much for a film this fast.

As for the plot, Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) is determined to exonerate his father for the murder of his mother Nora, but when he can’t find the evidence he needs, he uses his powers to time travel and save her life. He’s warned by Batman (Ben Affleck) about the consequences of not letting go, but Barry is determined to make his own mistakes.

By saving his mother he ends up in a new timeline where he co-exists with his younger past self. Most of the film is Ezra playing against himself and its quite obvious that this is where the budget for the CGI went because their interactions are practically seamless. Older and younger Barry are a funny, charming duo navigating the film together playing their different maturities and experience for comedic effect.

Soon they learn that they’ve not only changed the future but the past too as they meet a different Batman – Michael Keaton. Keaton looks like he’s having a great time saying farewell to what will probably be his last time in the cape and his callbacks to the 1989 film are natural rather than jarring as they are in the trailers.

Michael Shannon also returns as General Zod, prompting the two versions of The Flash and Batman to search for Superman only to find a cynical, angry Supergirl (Sasha Calle is magnificent). Here the film’s themes of trying to save the past and future are personified in Keaton and Supergirl. It all culminates in an explosive final act which surprisingly is the weakest part of the film. The first two acts of Barry struggling with the concept of finally letting go of his mother’s death is pushed aside for a moment before Barry learns his lesson in an emotional finale.

The context of Ezra Miller’s ongoing allegations and subsequent promise to receive help has made some moments unintentionally dark – the Flash puts a baby in a microwave (to protect them from flying debris) and he steals clothes from an old couple (as he has no clothes with him) – it is something that the film will have to live with. Having seen the Flash twice, I’m pleased to say it was highly entertaining both times. The emotional stakes, cheerful speedster antics and zippy pace really work well to deliver a Flash story.

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One Comment

  1. Given Ezra Miller’s legal issues and what’s been reported, how disruptive and uncomfortable is the dissonance between Ezra Miller’s personal choices and the character he portrays?

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