Has there ever been a film that has gone on a bigger rollercoaster ride before its release than The Flash? First there were DC fans unhappy at the fact that Grant Gustin, who plays Flash in the TV series, wasn’t offered the role for the movie. Then that all seemed to have been forgotten when it was announced that screen legend Michael Keaton would be reprising his role of Batman, some 30 years after the last time he put on the Batsuit.
But then the ride didn’t stop there. Writers and directors came and went on The Flashproject and then just to top everything off there was a threat that the film would never see the light of day after the star of the film, Ezra Miller, became involved in a string of alleged criminal issues.
Still DC have forged on with the film although it has been worth noting that more of the advertising has centered on the fact that Keaton is back for this film. For a generation of DC fans Keaton is Batman and while they have also praised the likes of Christian Bale for what they have done with the role over the years – no one is quite like Michael Keaton as Batman.
That raises a key question – with an infusion of the modern DC universe and a healthy dose of nostalgia surely The Flash is a film that will appeal to both DC fans new and old. And that may have well been the case if the film itself wasn’t a little underwhelming. While the film delivers when it comes to characterisation and creativity it just seemed to be left lacking where it really needed it – in its key action sequences.
Directed by acclaimed horror director Andy Muschietti (It) The Flash opens with Barry Allen aka The Flash (Ezra Miller – The Perks Of Being A Wallflower) juggling trying to find the evidence to have his Dad freed from jail with his Justice League duties. The only issue is that both sides of his life is frustrating him. Any evidence he finds is not enough to free his Dad and when he is called into action as The Flash it is normally to clean up the messes made by what the world considers the ‘real’ heroes like Batman (Ben Affleck – Air).
In frustration Barry uses his powers to go back in time to change the fortunes of both his mother and father but in doing so finds himself in a reality where ‘another Barry’ that is yet to get his powers – an issue seeing that General Zod (Michael Shannon – Take Shelter) is about to attack Earth in search of another Kryptonian.
As Barry tries to work out how to stop Zod he discovers that most of the Justice League don’t exist in this reality although Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton – Beetlejuice) has hung up his bat suit but is only too willing to give it all another shot.
The Flash is going to be one of those films that not only takes audiences a long time to digest but will also divide them on whether they love or hate. There are certainly positives with the film – one big one being what the screenplay does with Barry Allen. The main Barry Allen is likable and people will find sympathy with him over what he is going through on a personal level.
Miller also delivers playing the two Barrys, even though it is worth noting that the second Barry is oh so annoying. Still Miller is brilliant in his portrayal of the two characters. There is a lot of weight on his shoulders as a performer with this film and he carries that burden brilliantly. The sequences with both Barrys talking to each other cinematically work and this is one of the few superhero films where I found that characterisation is one of its strengths. The film makes Barry someone that many of us can relate to – someone that is unsure of the world or what their role in it is. It is a welcome difference from the bravado shown by a lot of superheros and their true identities.
Sadly, though there are also a few weaknesses with this film – starting with the film’s inconsistencies. Early on the action sequences, especially the hospital baby/therapy dog fall and an amazing Ben Affleck Batman chase, all work really well but when the film needs to reach ts action peak the sequences are so under-whelming that they make the audience feel like they are watching a DC television show. The time-travel sequences lacked originality while the Zod versus Batman, the Barrys and Super-Girl (Sasha Calle – Supergirl) maybe long but just don’t have that bit extra that they needed in order to be memorable. When a film has action sequences on the big screen, they need to be new, different, epic and above all bigger than anything you will see on TV.
What The Flash did do really well is the surprises and to be honest they are what is going to make fans remember this film. While we won’t go into any spoilers there are so many cameos and Easter Eggs throughout this film that no true DC fan will leave the cinema completely disappointed.
The Flash should have been the pinnacle in of the DC universe – this should have been a film that married the old with the new and left everybody happy but sadly there is a distinct feeling that this film was beyond what director Andy Muschietti was capable of delivering successfully. While the touching, emotional parts of the film and some of the brave surprising twists work well Muschietti wasn’t up to being able to deliver action sequences to the scale that this film needed. A shame when you realise that the cast, led by Miller and Keaton, gave their all for this film.
While The Flash isn’t exactly a bad film many fans will expect a lot more from it. There is enough in the film to suggest that the next films in the DC universe could be something special if they take the key factors that work for The Flash and use them going forward but they also need to find something new and creative because the whispers among cinema goers at the moment is that there is heavy dose of multiverse fatigue sweeping over them at the moment.
This is one for the true DC fans just don’t expect it to be the masterpiece so many of them hoped it would be.