If I have to be honest, I’m really divided. There’s a reason why I start this review like that considering that we’ll be talking about one of most debatable movies of the year, about one of those movies which we perhaps waited for too long and all the obstacles it’s gone through didn’t make things look more optimistic. And still, it’s all about the solo movie of Barry Allen that has finally appeared on the big screen as part of the almost dead DCEU which only a miracle (Gunn) can save now with an inevitable reset. Actually this is probably one of the main reasons for all the disputes around this movie but we’ll talk about them later.
Let’s go back to what I started with – I’m really 50/50 about this and if you had asked me a while ago I would have told you that this movie is not worth watching at all and you shouldn’t spend your money on it as it’s not really relevant anymore and won’t affect the upcoming DC movie creations in any way. Now, though, since I’ve spontaneously decided to give it a shot and went to the cinema to watch it, I can conclude that I actually liked the movie. And that’s about it. Yes, it was nothing epic but considering my minimal expectations it managed to keep my interest, impress me as a viewer with some cool moments, awaken in me the rather forgotten Batman fan from my childhood and, plainly speaking, make me feel satisfied that I went exactly to it instead of any other movie in the cinema. The coin always has two sides and here you will yet again see some of my schizophrenic thoughts which were to some extent born from the common opinion of critics and fans, but in reality “The Flash” achieved what I went for – not to think about anything else, to focus on the flashpoint and to actually have fun with the events on screen and even finally get to re-reading the comic book related to the climax point in the superhero’s story which I’ve been delaying for a while now.
The Batcave is always a sight to see in every form and in every production, the ones inside it – depends.
Let’s start with what the first Me definitely didn’t like – i.e. the obvious and most likely one of the main reasons for “The Flash” to scare away a lot of fans and to turn (rather expected) into a boxoffice flop. Actually we can find a lot of reasons for hate and criticism but what DC actually did to shoot themselves in the foot was the official announcement of the new so-called Gunnverse, as well as taking Henry Cavill out of any potential roles in the new superhero universe (shame on them, not only did they hit “The Witcher” but they also had to touch the other precious role as well, but yeah, that’s a different topic). With the addition of the quite mediocre “Black Adam” and its now useless bonus scene, as well as the weak “Shazam” sequel, to put it mildly, the last nails in DCEU’s coffin have been hammered down and the multiple delays of “The Flash” basically doomed the movie to scarce income, low scores and almost no love from the audience. Not to forget the fact that we’ve already more or less watched Flash, even under the name of Grant Gustin, around 9 whole seasons, and although I personally got only to the third one before I got bored, I’m sure that the people who’ve watched it until the end are already tired of the hero and his famous saying that he’s the fastest men alive until, naturally, someone faster shows up.
Well, the other Me will say that here at least this now banal for Flash phrase and competition with himself are missing and the great thing is that in reality the movie comes with a quite decent and well told story that generally sticks to the source material and which not only gives The Flash his own identity in the otherwise established Justice League, as far as it’s still existing in its current version, but can also exist as a completely independent original story. To be fair, for me one of the main things that makes the movie intriguing and worthy of the viewers’ attention and which counters the criticism mentioned above to some extent is exactly that – I don’t know if it’s because of the now clearer circumstances around DCEU’s future or not, but Muschietti and his crew have managed to develop a self-sufficient plot where characters that we’ve seen already can be viewed as cameos, where there are some cool ideas here and there and some other unexpected cameos, where the bonus scene doesn’t promise anything special and it’s actually somewhat redundant (unless we view it as a meme or something) and where we also see a decent dose of humour, references, unforgettable phrases and notes of nostalgia towards classic movies and heroes.
Since the things written above might sound a bit abstract, let’s take a more specific look at some key aspects that defend both positions so that I can show you clearly where “The Flash” fails and where I was left rather satisfied than not from what I saw:
From a purely plot or visual point of view there’s a high chance that most of you will be left disappointed. And I still believe that the things in those aspects were watchable enough to keep your interest. Yes, the slow-motion could have been shot better, the visual effects in some scenes looked like they’ve been made for the first Batman movie with Keaton, the CGI in others was bad, softly speaking, but at least the costumes were very well-made and authentic, the interactions between the two Flashes were colourful and eye-catching, the lack of otherwise redundant 3D is also always a plus in my list. At times you will hear the theme songs of the heroes as well, at others you will be surrounded by some classic hits which is another good sign for me for a well-selected soundtrack. And yes, both this paragraph and the movie’s visual and sound representation are nothing impressive but to me the whole film was comic-sy enough to not spoil the effect of the otherwise amazing illustrations that you will see in the source material “Flashpoint”.
And since we mentioned the key event in the story, the more hardcore fans of you will probably find a lot of things that are missing or are irrelevant, especially towards the end of the movie but my vision on how the plot should have looked like was quite shallow and therefore I basically saw what I expected to see which was enough for me. The action was on a decent level, the sense of humour made me chuckle more times than I thought it would, the so popular for such movies Easter eggs were also there and made me feel inner joy every time I managed to find them or get the reference without it being shown to my face. And yeah, the explanations of the time-space continuum with a bowl of spaghetti were probably not the most genius idea ever created but it still became one of the things that left the audience with the feeling for a simple and understandable plot. In the end I went exactly for that emotional unloading and that’s what I got – two hours of fun without having to think too much with my brain.
Barry Allen when he finds out about the movie’s box office and wonders whether it’s time for a second flashpoint.
And since we reached again the moment where I want to outline some more specific details around the main characters without any unnecessary spoilers, let’s take a further look at the more important ones:
The Flash – I won’t go into too many details, the more interested of you have probably already seen and read enough about Ezra Miller’s “adventures” but it’s a fact that he quickly became more or less the bad boy of DC. And having in mind the speculations about the good guy Gustin taking the role, it was completely normal for most of the criticism to be pointed towards the actor. Furthermore, honestly speaking, his previous incarnations in the role were also not that convincing anyways. If we set the actor’s personal life aside, however, and look at his role here, we’ll actually see something quite different – Miller managed to play two likeable versions of himself with some de-aging and cosmetic changes but with quite polar characters and from one point onwards he really made me accept the Flash from the present and from the alternate reality as two entirely separate personas and even more, two entirely separate actors. This is an achievement by itself since even Benedict Cumberbatch was more or less the same in all his versions in “Multiverse of Madness”. To be frank, I got bored of Gustin quite quick in the series with the same name so I don’t know, perhaps the shorter time we’ve seen Miller in the role here has also had its influence (even though he was more or less on screen in 99% of those 140 minutes) but in the end I was left pleasantly surprised by the pure acting presence of the hero and for me this is a role played well enough.
Batman – it was clear to everyone that if this movie has a “show stealer”, that would be OG Batman. The cool thing is that everyone turned out to be right. Michael Keaton is in a completely familiar territory and this version of him playing the old and experienced Batman fits him perfectly. The phrases which are his trademark are great one-liners, the batmobile and the plane in the correct shape are there, the old-school gadgets and the classic costume as well – technically Keaton has all prerequisites in place to bring us back 30 years and hit our nostalgic weak spot by basically more or less scratching off Batfleck’s presence in the movie at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, Ben Affleck is not a bad Batman – quite the opposite, his motor chase is actually one of the better action sequences in the movie, it’s just that Keaton’s charisma is one of the saviours of the movie when having all the other casting choices in mind and I’m sure that most of you who are planning to eventually see the movie will do it mainly for him, and they will be right to do so. I want to avoid any further spoilers so I will only say that I’m glad that the Batman in this universe got a quite satisfying character development and I believe that the die-hard fans of the movies from the 90s will appreciate it.
This time at least they thought about it and the battle was fought in the desert instead of the centre of the city.
Superman – what we get is actually Supergirl but I wrote it like that on purpose since The Flash and Batman are looking for the Superman of this universe after all. And here we inevitably go back to Henry Cavill and his obvious absence (spoiler or not, you won’t see him here) which, however, is more a plus than a minus here the way I see it. No matter whether you’ve expected to see him or not, it’s perfectly logical for the hero to look different in an alternate universe – in this case, even with a different gender. The important thing is that Sasha Calle’s look kills (figuratively and literally) just the same and she also hits as hard as expected. Well, her battle with Zod was not as destructive as the one in “Man of Steel” but it had its moments. Although this is Sasha’s first major role and with the way the plot developed it’s possible she might not appear in this one anymore, personally I really liked her and I’d watch her again in another role like this with pleasure, either as this hero or another as part of DC (it’s not like it’s not possible) or even in something completely different.
General Zod – if I have to admit, Zod is not among my favourite villains and here my views towards him didn’t change at all. According to Michael Shannon, he felt his character somewhat redundant, considering that the main focus is on Ezra (act shocked everybody, perhaps he’s the Flash, whom the movie is named after?) so here I’m on the same page with him – I saw him as a redundant one as well. Zod feels more like a secondary villain that shifts the focus from the Flash and who serves as a punching bag for Supergirl and doesn’t have that much of a screen time. To some extent Shannon is right but not entirely since for me he could at least try a bit more. In any case, for the purposes of the movie and for filling some screen time in order for DC to have some kind of a multiverse with already familiar heroes from previous reincarnations of theirs, the actors does the job.
Cameos – I decided to outline it as a bigger section since quite frankly the guest appearances here are way more than I expected and there are definitely some surprisingly good ones. From those that were rather expected I can mention Boba Fett .. uhh, I mean Aquaman’s father, as a good one and to also point out the happy news that, unlike the series, Iris West is not as annoying simply because she doesn’t get enough screen time to change that. Apart from that, the inclusion in one way or another of (almost) all other members of the Justice League was also inevitable, although not as impressive. Towards the end of the movie, however, as a compensation we got an explosion of some impressive appearances and every comic book fan, no matter whether a fan of the 90s movies or the current generation of those (or both), will appreciate the effort from Muschietti and his team. What I can describe as a minus here from the things we saw on screen is that all of these cameos would have much more value if Marvel haven’t done it first and haven’t delivered the cameo fiesta and the audience show with some old acquaintances that we got in “Spider-Man: No Way Home”.
Definitely give the comics a shot even if you’re not a fan, it’s one of the classics after all.
It seems I got drifted away again in redundant talks so let’s sum up shortly everything I’ve said so far so that I can leave it to you to decide whether “The Flash” is worth watching or not. Muschietti’s movie is to some extent a hit and miss and some specific aspects will impress you whereas others will annoy you. Generally speaking, though, to me the movie is more than watchable for sure and I would even describe it as one of the better ones created by DC (it’s not like the bar is too high, but still). “The Flash” has its own charisma and is more a fan service similar to the latest movie that came out for Spider-Man rather than an actual sequel or a spinoff to “Justice League”, for example, which in this case is actually the better option.
The film is lighthearted, funny and a pleasure to the eye and tells a non-engaging story which you can safely go and watch without any previous experience with the movie universe of the company (even without such in comics), relax to and even easily forget about later if it doesn’t turn out to be your thing. If it does, however, then I won’t be the only one who would expect any future productions from Muschietti with some dose of interest and optimism. I’m not a horror fan, i.e. not a fan of most of his previous creations but I’m a huge Batman fan and even though it doesn’t seem like we will see “The Flash 2” anytime soon, or at least not in its current state, I’m still looking forward to seeing what the director will make of the story, the tone and the adaptation he’s been given for “Batman: The Brave and the Bold”.