Every time I think I’ve become completely fatigued by live-action superhero movies, one comes along to restore my faith. The Flash is the latest to do that. It’s been a while since I’ve had this much fun at one of these films. Lately, the genre has produced entries that either take themselves too seriously (Eternals) or don’t take themselves seriously enough (Thor: Love and Thunder). This picture hits a great balance, demonstrating genuine wit in its screenplay (credited to Christina Hodson), while grounding its action scenes in a theme with substance.
Ezra Miller plays The Flash, a.k.a. Barry Allen. During a mission to save people in a hospital from plunging into a sinkhole, he discovers that he can run fast enough to move though time. This newfound ability offers him a chance to prevent his mother from being murdered, as well as to prevent his father from wrongly going to jail for the crime. Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) urges him not to mess with the timeline. Barry, of course, doesn’t listen.
As a result, he ends up stuck in an alternate past, where he meets a younger version of himself (also played by Miller). Barry #2 is a goofball “dude” with whom Barry #1 comically bickers. The situation between them grows more serious when Barry #1 loses his powers and Barry #2 gains them. The character(s) have to figure out how to restore everything to normal. Their plan is complicated by the arrival of General Zod (Michael Shannon), who plans to destroy the earth. For help, they turn to the alternate-world Batman (Michael Keaton) and, after finding and rescuing her, Supergirl (Sasha Calle).
The Flash is often laugh-out-loud funny, thanks to the humorous interplay between the two Barrys. Miller deftly gives them slightly different personalities so we’re never confused about who’s who. Having them switch powers provides opportunities for physical comedy, too, and the actor proves unexpectedly good at it.
Underneath that is a very sincere idea about wishing there was a way to fix upsetting events from the past. Barry is very driven by an obsession over saving his mom’s life and must face the possibility that the goal is not feasible. Batman, as everyone knows, lost both of his parents. He takes on a father figure role, attempting to help Barry come to terms with his loss.
The action sequences have weight because of Barry’s desire to prevent tragedy. They’re enjoyable to watch, thanks to the visual style director Andy Muschietti (IT) brings to them. The Flash may be moving at super-speed, but we witness him in slow motion to absorb the myriad things he can do in the blink of an eye. Having Michael Keaton reprise the role of Batman adds to the thrill. Anyone with fondness for his work in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman and its 1992 sequel Batman Returns will delight in seeing him back in that suit.
The third act of The Flash does contain two tired superhero movie cliches: an overload of CGI and a bunch of references/cameos designed to make fans squeal. Normally, stuff like that wears me out. I didn’t mind them here because Muschietti has a clear vision for his movie. He designed the film to be a solid superhero adventure and a love letter to DC’s cinematic output. You can feel his affection in every scene. That combination of poignant story, hilarious comedy, and creative action makes The Flash supremely entertaining.
out of four
The Flash is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, some strong language, and partial nudity. The running time is 2 hours and 24 minutes.
The Flash comes to 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD on August 29. A complimentary copy of the Blu-ray was provided by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment for the purposes of this review. Along with a digital copy of the movie, the following supplemental material can be found on the disc:
Making The Flash: Worlds Collide - This is a slickly produced 35-minute making-of documentary. Director Andy Muschietti and other key players are on hand to discuss everything from the pre-production process, to set and costume design, to achieving the special effects. You get a good overview of how the movie came together.
Let’s Get Nuts: Batman Returns, Again - A look at Michael Keaton reprising the role of Batman. Oddly, Keaton isn’t interviewed here, although there’s lots of on-set footage of him at work. Muschietti and the costume design team talk about preparing the actor to put on the suit again, decades after leaving it behind. By all accounts, Keaton was emotional playing the character one more time.
Supergirl: The Last Daughter of Krypton - The Supergirl character is the basis for this 16-minute segment that delves into her history and how The Flash interprets her.
The Flash: Escape the Circus is a 6-part original podcast telling a new story featuring the Flash (voiced by Max Greenfield). The tale is over 90 minutes long and can be listened to in one sitting or broken up into chapters. The disc also includes the trailer for this, along with a 2-minute behind-the-scenes segment.
All the special features are nicely put together, making The Flash Blu-ray a worthwhile package. Click here to purchase a copy on Amazon.