Warner Brothers Pictures
Written by Christina Hodson and Joby Harold
Directed by Andy Muschietti
Starring Ezra Miller, Michael Keaton, Sasha Calle, Ben Affleck, Jeremy Irons, Ron Livingston, Michael Shannon, Kiersey Clemons, Maribel Verdu, Antje Traue and Gal Gadot
Barry Allen uses his super speed to change the past, but his attempt to save his family creates a world without super heroes, forcing him to race for his life in order to save the future.
I have always been a huge fan of the DC Comics roster of heroes and continue to be in both comics and other mediums. I went into the Flash with the same optimism that I go into every film with. The same optimism that hopes to be surprised and delighted by what the writers, director and actors put on the screen. The optimism that makes me enjoy the movie going experience and appreciate the time and effort of everyone involved with putting something new into the world on the big screen.
I really wanted to have that experience with the Flash. Unfortunately, I didn’t.
The big screen adventure of the fastest man alive suffers from one of the biggest problems I continue to have with the comic book movie experience; trying to do too much too soon. As a comic book fan, cramming all of the elements of a huge storyline like Flashpoint into one film is a recipe for failure and this film exemplifies that on several levels. Not the least of which being the sense that this isn’t a Flash movie.
Andy Muschietti did some great work with the big screen adaptation of Stephen King’s It because he was given two films to tell both parts of the story. Trying to cram Flashpoint into a two hour and twenty four minute run time is inherently problematic because not only do none of the characters get the time they need to grow and evolve with the audience, but it paves the way for themes and story points that go nowhere. Everything feels like novelty and none of it captures either the imagination or the heart.
At the beginning of the film, Barry (Miller) establishes that he has no real role in the Justice League beyond cleanup duty and nothing he does throughout the film shows the viewer that that should change. The opening sequence is played for laughs, but is not as remotely funny as it thinks it is. The scene is really a chance to showcase where the League is and why Barry is unimportant. His emotional journey with not only dealing with the death of his mother, but the imprisonment of his father doesn’t get nearly the amount of time it deserves before the story turns on the multiverse switch and devolves into nostalgia and cameos.
Barry’s actions cause a multiversal nightmare and he finds himself in a world where there is no Justice League and General Zod (Shannon) is preparing to destroying the Earth. Teaming up with his other self from this timeline, he enlists the help of this universe’s Batman (Keaton) to stop the threat after finding and rescuing an imprisoned Supergirl (Calle). So we have a Flash movie where the Flash has to enlist another hero to do his thinking for him after rescuing another hero to do the literal heavy lifting and fighting in order to stop a villain who is not one of his. Did no one ask this question after the script was done?
There is so much wasted potential on the screen in this movie. Keaton is great as Batman. It was a great piece of nostalgia to bring him back and it works really well in the film, but all of that story could have been utilized in its own film with a character that connects to Keaton’s Batman in a way that actually had emotional weight. His scenes are great and the action in them is better than the majority of the action in the film. Michael Shannon is absolutely phoning it in as Zod. There is no menace to the character at all. Calle is fine as Supergirl, but she doesn’t have much to do and no arc to care about. Miller is annoying in stereo as two different versions of Barry.
As far as the special effects in the film, I was unimpressed. With all of the time it took to bring this film to the big screen, you would think the effects would have the polish you would expect from a film of this magnitude and budget, but they have the look and feel of video game cutscenes. To make matters worse, they utilize those effects in a manner designed to tug at your nostalgia bone with cameos that feel cheap and unnecessary. They actually include a scene that was the subject of a joke from Kevin Smith as if it is supposed to mean something more. It was the height of pandering to the audience which is what most of this film does instead of telling a compelling or entertaining story.
The Flash is the end result of everything wrong with superhero movies. It has little care for the character himself, gives him nothing to do expect react to events around him, gives him little to no agency, forces him to learn nothing and expects spectacle and nostalgia to blind the audience to its unnecessary existence. If the Flash is the end of the Snyderverse, I hope that it stays deader than Nora Allen, Thomas and Martha Wayne and the planet Krypton combined.