The Flash (2023) Review
THE DC cinematic universe has been on a rocky road for some time now, consistently being outdone by Marvel in terms of quality and gross. However, the universe's supposed final chapter has been earmarked as being DC's saving grace - especially with Marvel's steady decline since 2020. But ironically, The Flash is just too fast for its own good, not taking the time to soak in the spectacle of what could have been a heartfelt tale of literal self-reflection that ends up being just another uninspired CGI superhero semblance.
After learning his superspeed can alter time and space, Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) attempts to change his family history and save his parent’s lives. However, doing this inadvertently creates a world without superheroes, leaving his new world threatened by General Zod (Michael Shannon), forcing Barry to team with what little heroes remain to return the status quo.
The Flash has never been a stranger to alternate timeline stories, with The Flashpoint Paradox arguably being the most successful. The concept of alternate realities, while overdone, is a tried-and-true formula, especially for a superhero like The Flash. Allen’s tragic backstory of his parents being in the wrong place at the wrong time meshes beautifully with his superspeed, subtly hinting that despite being the fastest man alive, Barry will never be fast enough to save his family’s demise. The film wisely enforces this heavily into this version of The Flash by having Barry literally talk to the younger version of himself for majority of the runtime. While much of their interactions are solely used for comedic counterplay, the few moments where the Barry’s do slow down and have heartfelt, meaningful conversations are, ironically, the highlights in this fast-paced film.
If you've seen any advertisements for The Flash, chances are you've witnessed the distractingly-bad CGI. Many had hoped these technical mishaps would be polished for release, but the final product did not lie when it came to how bad the visuals would be. For the first two acts the CGI isn't the biggest problem in the world, with only a few snippets standing out here and there, but the third act is littered with an abundance of fake-looking explosions and ships to the point where even director Andy Muschietti has defended the CG, stating it was "intentionally-bad". But there's no defending the monstrous celebrity cameos made during the climax; cameos which look so bad that they have allegedly caused unintentional audible laughter and groans from various movie-goers.
As a human being, Ezra Miller is without question detestable, but it pains me to say that he does deliver a good performance in his first solo movie. Being able to have acting chemistry with yourself is a surprisingly difficult feat, but Miller does a decent job with what he is given, making the interactions between Barry and Barry believable and downright touching at times. Michael Keaton and Michael Shannon reprise their iconic roles as Batman and General Zod respectively, with the two Michaels reminding audiences why they were cast all those years ago. But the true standout in The Flash was Sasha Calle's coming-out performance as Supergirl. There aren't too many young actors out there who possess "it", but whether it be her indirect attitude or presence in the suit, Calle was the best part of this superhero tetralogy.
The Flash has it's positives, especially when you focus on its characters and performances, but unfortunately, the film will likely be overshadowed by poor pacing and embarrassing special effects. If you're a glass-half-full kind of person, the fastest man alive will keep you entertained, but if you look on the emptier side of glasses, The Flash has more than its fair share of criticisms. But for my money, this was just another addition to a seemingly-endless supply of passable superhero gatherings.