Movie Review – The Flash (2023)

The Flash (2023) Movie Review
The Flash (2023) Movie Review by the Scribbling Geek

The Flash (2023) is one of the best DCEU movies to date, but it fails to shrug off that catch-up feeling.

The Flash (2023) Review: 5 thumbs-up and 3 thumbs-down
Snappy Movie Review | The Flash (2023)

The Flash (2023) Synopsis

Despite his superpowers and friends from the Justice League, Barry Allen continues to be deeply tormented by the unsolved murder of his mother. When he discovers the ability to time travel using the Speed Force, he joyously races back in time to prevent the murder, completely ignoring Batman’s warning about how changing history could have drastic consequences. The attempt succeeds and Barry soon has a taste of the family life he long craved for. However, just as the Dark Knight predicts, the change sets in motion a radically different timeline. One that comes with catastrophic outcomes.

Snappy Review

Well, this was an unusual experience!

On Monday, I watched Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and that zesty multi-verse masterpiece was Sony’s showcase of all the Spidey franchises they’ve owned for a long time. (With polite nods to other ownerships too)

I watched The Flash yesterday afternoon and looks like DC is more than eager to meet the competition head-on. Although DC’s showcase is more a reminder that they were the people who made live-action superhero blockbusters the cinematic thing to look forward to.

A multi, multi-verse experience within a week, in other words. Bizarre in a comical way but undoubtedly enjoyable, thrilling, and nostalgic too. Made me realised as well that in the movie business, multi-verse also means multi-revenue-streams. There’s always another way to squeeze more dough from a hit movie, eh, even if it’s over 40 years old?

But enough with the sarcasm, on with the snappy review. Flawed as it might be in terms of story flow and consistent effects quality, I think The Flash is hands-down one of the best DCEU movies to date. Yes, the story has few emotional highs and the humour is sometimes too self-indulgent. But as far as capturing the enthusiasm of a classic, time-transversing superpowered saga, I feel Andrés Muschietti’s effort comes close. At the very least, there isn’t that dragged-out, directionless feel that has choked way too many DCEU live-action flicks.

For all the nonsense he dashes into in real life, Ezra Miller puts up two praiseworthy performances here. Neither are Oscar-worthy, to be clear, but they do emphatically illustrate the stark differences between the two Barrys, and through that, demonstrate how one can of tomatoes can reshape destiny so drastically.

There’s also, of course, Michael Keaton’s easy-going, almost fatherly Batman. Huge, HUGE extended dose of fan service here, and not quite the brooding Dark Knight we are familiar with in recent decades. But for me, it’s a version that still works if only because it’s reminiscent of the geriatric mentor in Batman Beyond.

The above adds up to The Flash being a good DC live-action movie, so to speak, one that I feel is a must-watch for this summer season. But at this point, it’s only fair that I also highlight that “good” doesn’t mean “great.” That’s because, for all its merits, The Flash is unable to shrug off that sensation of playing catch-up. It simply cannot do so no matter how fast the eponymous superhero is running.

Uglily put, there’s little in the show that’s entirely original. The opening showpiece of Flash saving falling babies instantly evokes memories of that legendary Quicksilver kitchen scene in X-Men: Days of Future Past, with that almost 10-year-old sequence still superior in terms of coherence and build-up.

Keaton’s Batman, needless to say, immediately invites comparison to Tobey Maguire’s older Peter in No Way Home.

The entire worlds-colliding/collapsing sequence is a huge thrill to a decades-old DC fan like me. But as it unfolds, I couldn’t help but remember the Spider-Verse movies, etc, and wondered who inspired who.

About that sequence: yes I know, you don’t have to remind me. I’ve watched most of them so I know DC series have been doing such cameos and crossovers for years—it’s likely DC inspired the competition. But still, the big ahhhhhhhh factor just couldn’t hit hard enough. Perhaps it’s because DC has been so slow to harness the multi-verse potential cinematically despite having the richest movie heritage?

Hate to say this, the cameos seem a little bit too old for today’s viewers too. I was so heartbroken by how not a single person in the cinema chuckled when the final cameo hit. Do today’s youngsters not know GC’s place in the Batverse?

To repeat, good but not quite a great DC movie. A noteworthy entry and very entertaining if you’re a hardcore fan. However, the gaps and failings are obvious. From an objective point of view, perhaps it’s not a bad thing if this entire timeline resets.

Update Jun 19, 2023

I can’t believe this only just occurred to me. It’s weird that The Flash didn’t have cameos of other Flashes. For example, Grant Gustin’s version, or any of the animated ones.

Was it because they’ve already done it in the series? Or is it because the producers didn’t want to be accused of “copying” the approach of Across the Spider-Verse?

Whichever reason, it’s a pity.

Watch the trailer here.

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