The DC Universe of films has met its share of praise and jeers over the past decade. When the MCU set up The Avengers, DC to attempted their own version with Zack Snyder. His vision didn't offer colorful comedy but focused on a brooding and darker universe. Since his departure, James Gunn entered the chat and brought that iconic comedy and character development to the DCU, which has translated a little over to the most recent outing The Flash. Everyone and everything are knee-deep into the multiverse now, where tv shows and movies of all franchises can enter the realm to create buzz and nostalgia. DC is no exception. Despite some slow moments, ultra-silly sequences, and some shoddy dialogue, there are some extremely great moments that fans of DC will never forget. Recommended!
Ezra Miller kicked off his tenure as the Scarlet Speedster with a brief shot in Batman v Superman and fully came to be in Justice League (both versions), but none of these stories really focused on him as the main character. But just like Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy 3, The Flash finally allows Barry Allen to breathe as a character and reveal his inner demons and what he holds close more than anything. Director Andy Muschetti (IT Chapters 1 and 2), along with screenwriter Christina Hodson (Birds of Prey) with a story by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (Spider-Man, Vacation), The Flash is set up for greatness in its ambitious story arc and action-packed set pieces. It's unfortunate that along the way in the production process, it seemed someone wanted to add in kooky and silly sequences to capture all audiences. The result lands in a mixed bag of genres, where the start of the movie sees Flash save a ton of newborn babies from falling to their deaths in a collapsing building. While this might have looked suspenseful on paper, the completion is other-worldly silly with some janky visual effects that do nothing other than showcase the speed of Barry Allen.
But after this sequence, the story is set in motion which keeps the movie on a grounded level where Barry confronts his tragic past with the death of his mother and the incarceration of his father. So how do the multiverse and alternate worlds and timelines come to fruition in this particular comic book universe? The creators hinted at it in Zach Snyder's Justice League where The Flash could run so fast, that he could literally reverse time. Add a couple of lines of dialogue relating to realms and science, and boom, the multiverse is created. And the film begs the question, would anyone go back in time and change the past even if it meant destroying the universe and creating alternate versions? And that's exactly what happens when Barry tries to correct the past with his parents which lands him in an alternate reality where Ben Affleck isn't Batman or his buddy anymore, but someone else who has played Batman in another film and time.
Of course, if anyone has seen the trailers, it's Michael Keaton playing Batman once again. And this is not just a small cameo for a couple of minutes. Keaton as the caped crusader is back in full force for the duration of the film serving the most engaging and best moments. In fact, these moments with Keaton and Miller are so great, that it's worth the price of admission solely to see how Muschetti utilizes Keaton again as the Dark Knight. It finally allows the great fight sequences of modern times and his Bruce Wayne character to vent and come into a hero once again in a way that will have fans applauding multiple times. It's a clear and crispy way to organically introduce the multiverse. Sadly, this is the only multiverse element that works naturally, where every other cameo or version of reality is force-fed to only strike up a second or two of nostalgia. It just doesn't hit the right notes tonally or visually really due to the heavy filters of color and mass amounts of CGI work. It was reaching too far.
Although, those excerpts from The Flash don't work, Ezra Miller as Barry is excellent. His attention to detailed emotion for doing the right thing, being a young adult in two different realities with different personalities, along with the severe struggle of the tragedy with his parents is unparalleled. Miller just owns the screen and it's a joy to watch him perfect his craft, especially towards the climax of the movie where the emotions are at their heaviest. He sells it well. Alongside Miller, Ben Affleck shows up and turns in the best performance yet as his version of the caped crusader, which might be short and sweet, but it begs for a sole Affleck Batman movie, please and thank you. Then of course, there's Keaton in the cowl again, which is downright perfection and showcases why he is the best to ever play it, even some thirty years later.
The Flash is not the movie to reboot the DCU for James Gunn nor is it a step in the correct direction by any means, but it allows for some sequel setups that would be more fun than anyone gives it credit for, especially with the two end credit stingers that will no doubt blow people away. Stay for the Michael Keaton and Ezra Miller team up, because those great scenes knock this movie out of the park, but other than a few emotional beats toward the end, The Flash tries too hard to wink and nod at so many things in a short time frame to feel organic, even though the sequel it sets up would be a blast. Recommended!