'The Flash' review: No mere Flash in the pan as DC finally gets it right

The Flash was always a big hit during the Chinese New Year visits. — Photos: Handout

The Flash
Director: Andy Muschietti
Cast: Ezra Miller, Sasha Calle, Michael Shannon, Ron Livingston, Maribel Verdú, Kiersey Clemons, Antje Traue, Michael Keaton

Now THAT’S how you make a DC superhero movie. The Flash is the best DC movie in years, or at least one of its better ones since Ezra Miller made his debut as the titular speedster in 2017’s Justice League.

If anything, it’s probably the one that feels the least shackled by the burden of being part of a major franchise, despite being the kickoff point for yet another reboot of the entire DC cinematic universe.

Part of this is because The Flash has its feet in both the past and present iterations of the DC cinematic universe, drawing on the best of the both eras while building towards a new future for DC Studios.

If you’re aware of the Flashpoint event in the comic books that this movie is based on, you’ll know how it goes. Barry Allen a.k.a The Flash (Miller) discovers that he can time travel by running really, really fast, and decides to go back in time to save his mother from being killed.

However, in doing so, he accidentally changes the timeline, resulting in a drastically different reality, one with no Superman, no Wonder Woman, no Aquaman, no Cyborg... in fact, there are no metahumans at all.

So when General Zod (Michael Shannon, reprising his role from Man Of Steel) shows up on Earth looking for a Kryptonian living amongst the humans, there is no Superman to save the day this time.

To make things worse, Barry loses his powers, so he and the Barry Allen of this reality have to find a way to save the planet, a search that leads them to Wayne Manor.

There, they find a completely different Batman waiting for him.

This Batman (played once again by the star of 1989’s Batman, Michael Keaton, who seems to be relishing his return to the cowl) is older and has retired from fighting crime, but agrees to help the two Barrys to find the Kryptonian Zod is searching for, who turns out to be not Kal-El, but Kara Zor-el, a.k.a Supergirl (Sasha Calle)!

Eat your heart out, Snyderverse Justice League!Eat your heart out, Snyderverse Justice League!

The general plot of The Flash skews pretty close to that of Flashpoint comic book event, which also involved the Scarlet Speedster changing history with his actions.

What’s missing, of course, is the whole war between Amazons and Atlanteans that tore the world apart, though using Zod as the major threat to Earth is a smart move and one that makes sense in terms of the DC cinematic multiverse.

Miller’s troubles in real life have been well-documented, but there can be absolutely no doubt that he nails his performance here as not just one, but two Barry Allens.

Barry was arguably the most annoying part of Justice League but here, Miller turns in a surprisingly mature performance as the older Allen who has to mentor his younger, more brash and carefree self.

It’s a performance that justifies the reports of the film's producers saying that he is the only person who could play this version of Barry Allen.

Hey me, it's me. Let's go make both mes a sandiwch.Hey me, it's me. Let's go make both mes a sandiwch.

What’s really nuts about The Flash is how well it integrates different versions of the DC cinematic history into a fresh but familiar film.

One of the main reasons this story works so well is ironically thanks to the fact that its main rival, Marvel, has already established the Multiverse in the mainstream, paving the way for the likes of Everything Everywhere All At Once and The Flash to expand on the concept without having to explain it all over again.

Even having two versions of Batman feels normal by now, and if new DC Studios CEO James Gunn really does decide that a new Bruce Wayne is needed in his new DC movies, then The Flash will arguably be the last time we see both Ben Afffleck and Michael Keaton in the Batsuit.

If that really is the case, it’s a fitting farewell for both, as Affleck gets to open the movie with a stunner of a car chase while Keaton close off by, well, REALLY getting nut while dishing out heaps of nostalgia on us.

At this point it seems almost secondary to mention Supergirl, but Calle does a well-enough job out-brooding Henry Cavill’s Man Of Steel that I really wouldn’t mind seeing her in the suit again (there’s already a Supergirl: Woman Of Tomorrow movie in the works).

Ok, everyone act surprised when Batman shows up. He hates it when we think we know he's coming.Ok, everyone act surprised when Batman shows up. He hates it when we think we know he's coming.

It has always amazed me that DC has had such a hard time making good movies for its characters. Batman aside, most of its other movies have not really lived up to expectations, especially in the past couple of years.

This despite having heroes like Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman Green Lantern, and The Flash in its stable. Black Adam? A Rock vanity project. Wonder Woman 1984? A messy follow-up to one of DC’s better movies. Shazam: Fury Of The Gods was at least entertaining, but suffered from being too formulaic.

Only the Robert Pattinson-starring The Batman can be considered a proper classic, though even then it was too long and too dark most of the time.

And don’t even get me started on the much-talked about "Snyderverse", which felt as though Zack Snyder was trying his best to do the absolute opposite of Marvel, which resulted in a tragically dull franchise that is too full of itself to be memorable.

It says a lot about that franchise that despite starring a character from the Snyderverse, The Flash benefits the most from NOT being too associated to the it.

The Flash is the most fun you’ll have at a DC movie in a while. And all it took was a wholesale changing of the guard over at DC Studios to do it. No pressure, James Gunn.

8.5 10


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