Don’t believe the haters – The Flash is one of the most entertaining films to come out of Warner Bros’ run of DCEU movies.
Embracing the character’s comic book origins, it ticks all the right genre tropes in a witty and engaging way. There’s plenty for fans to enjoy but the film doesn’t leave newbies out in the cold by ensuring that the film is focused on telling its own story – even if it is part of a larger, decade-old franchise. There’s plenty of fun to be had and the film’s 144-minute running time whizzes by. It’s not without flaws – but those are inherent in many films within the genre, like the over-stuffed CG-filled finale. However, for the most part, this is an excellent superhero adventure that has plenty to offer its audience – and it’s a real shame that there likely won’t be any further adventures within this world, or any of its adjoining multiverses.
Many have had problems with the DECU that started with Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel in 2013. It gave us such highs as Wonder Woman and lows like Justice League, but for the most part, I’ve enjoyed the films much more than those in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yes, they’ve had their faults, but the films have been interesting adaptations of source material that goes back almost a century. The Flash is a closing chapter on that world, wrapping up the larger story and drawing a close to the shared universe that started under Snyder’s stewardship. Aquaman 2 is still to come, but there’s a sense that The Flash is the culmination of this incarnation of DC superheroes.
The Flash opens with a prolonged action sequence that sees The Flash saving babies from a collapsing hospital as Ben Affleck’s Batman chases bad guys through the streets of Gotham. It’s a way of tying-up some of the loose ends leftover from ‘the Snyderverse’ and allowing fans to see Affleck’s Batman and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman for one last time. After that Barry discovers that if he runs really (really) fast he can use Speed Force to travel back in time and save the life of his murdered mother. However, if movies have taught us anything – it’s that time travel never goes smoothly. Barry ends up in a parallel timeline in 2013, one where his mother is still alive, but also where he was never struck by lightning thus never getting his superpowers. That’s when he discovers that General Zod (Michael Shannon) has landed on earth, playing out the events of Man Of Steel – only without the presence of Henry Cavill’s Superman to stop him.
Realising that he’s messed up, Barry goes in search of his friend and mentor, Bruce Wayne. However, instead of finding Ben Affleck’s incarnation of the character, this new timeline features Michael Keaton’s older, reclusive Bruce. Retired from the crimefighting, Bruce reluctantly agrees to once again take up the mantle of the bat and help Barry rescue a Kryptonian from the clutches of the Russians. Thinking that they’re going to rescue Kal-El (aka Clark Kent), they actually discover his cousin Kara Zor-El (Sasha Calle). This ragtag version of the Justice League then sets off to fight Zod and save the planet, with the hope of sending Barry back to his own timeline.
The Flash might be the title character, but the red speedster isn’t the main selling point for this climatic entry into the DCEU – that would be Michael Keaton’s long-awaited return as Bruce Wayne/Batman – the actor’s first time in the role since 1992’s Batman Returns. Keaton doesn’t miss a beat slipping into back the cowl, delivering a fantastic performance as a grizzled version of The Dark Knight.
Many have had their knives out for the effects work, citing instances of poor rendering and plastic-looking visuals. The reality is that the visual effects are no better or worse than in most other superhero movies. Does some of it look fake? Sure it does, but that’s par for the course these days.
Cameos abound in The Flash. We have the aforementioned Affleck and Gadot appearances and Jason Momoa’s Aquaman appears in a (unnecessary) post-credit sequence but the gold for DC Comics fans is in the multiverse – the world between worlds. There, Christopher Reeve’s Superman stands side by side with Helen Slater’s Supergirl, while Nicolas Cage’s aborted take on the Man Of Steel is able to fight giant spiders in space while a dozen other characters and actors whiz by in a…um…flash. The best cameo is saved for the end, when a suave George Clooney rocks up as yet another variation of Bruce Wayne – and shows that Barry wasn’t fully able to reset everything back to normal.
A decade in the making, The Flash finally sees DC Comics’ speedy superhero take to the big screen in a movie with his name in the title. Opinions have been mixed on this Andy Muschietti-directed adventure but I was fully enthralled by the $220 million film, entertained by its wit, action and unexpected heart.
The Blu-ray of The Flash contains the following special features:
- Making the Flash: Worlds Collide – featurette
- The Flash: Escape the Midnight Circus Behind the Scenes
- Let’s Get Nuts: Batman Returns, Again – featurette
- Supergirl: Last Daughter of Krypton – featurette
- The Flash: Escape from Midnight Circus Trailer
- The Flash: Escape from Midnight Circus: Priorities
- The Flash: Escape from Midnight Circus: The Inherent Dangers of Time Travel
- The Flash: Escape from Midnight Circus: Fully Torqued
- The Flash: Escape from Midnight Circus: The Psychodrome
- The Flash: Escape from Midnight Circus: Cyclotron Don
- The Flash: Escape from Midnight Circus: Blackout
- In Session – The Flash: Escape from the Midnight Circus
The Flash is available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD from 18 September, 2023.