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The World’s Finest – The Flash (2023)


Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Theatrical Release Date: June 16, 2023
Digital Release Date: July 18, 2023
Physical Media Release Date: 4K UHD, Blu-ray, DVD – August 29, 2023

Description: Warner Bros. Pictures presents The Flash, directed by Andy Muschietti. Ezra Miller reprises their role as Barry Allen in the DC Super Hero’s first-ever standalone feature film.

Worlds collide in The Flash when Barry uses his superpowers to travel back in time in order to change the events of the past. But when his attempt to save his family inadvertently alters the future, Barry becomes trapped in a reality in which General Zod has returned, threatening annihilation, and there are no Super Heroes to turn to. That is, unless Barry can coax a very different Batman out of retirement and rescue an imprisoned Kryptonian… albeit not the one he’s looking for. Ultimately, to save the world that he is in and return to the future that he knows, Barry’s only hope is to race for his life. But will making the ultimate sacrifice be enough to reset the universe?

The Flash ensemble also includes rising star Sasha Calle, Michael Shannon, Ron Livingston, Maribel Verdú, Kiersey Clemons, Antje Traue and Michael Keaton.

The Flash is produced by Barbara Muschietti and Michael Disco. The screenplay is by Christina Hodson, with a screen story by John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein and Joby Harold, based on characters from DC. The executive producers are Toby Emmerich, Walter Hamada, Galen Vaisman and Marianne Jenkins. Joining director Muschietti behind the camera are director of photography Henry Braham, production designer Paul Denham Austerberry, editors Jason Ballantine and Paul Machliss, and costume designer Alexandra Byrne; the score is by Benjamin Wallfisch.

Warner Bros. Pictures presents a Double Dream/a Disco Factory production of an Andy Muschietti film,The Flash. It will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures and is set to open in theaters in North America on June 16, 2023 and internationally beginning 14 June 2023.

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The Flash Movie Review
By James Harvey

The Scarlet Speedster finally gets his own big-screen adventure, but he unfortunately doesn’t put his best foot forward. Though bristling with solid performances and a wealth of energy, The Flash ultimately ends up crumbling under its own incoherent story and shoddy-looking production. There are some big laughs and exciting moments littered throughout, anchored by some really compelling character work, but it gets buried under baffling creative and story choices and weak, outdated-looking visual effects.

The Flash follows Barry Allen as he uses his speedster superpowers to travel back in time in order to save his family, inadvertently altering the future, in this big-screen (and streamlined) take on the Flashpoint series from DC Comics. Barry soon becomes trapped in a reality in which General Zod has returned, threatening annihilation and with no heroes to stand in his way. That is, unless Barry can coax a very different Batman out of retirement and rescue an imprisoned Kryptonian to help set things right.

Despite treading familiar ground, The Flash is still a fairly serviceable big-screen outing for one of DC Comics’ most popular heroes, and one absolutely riddled with nods to long-time fans of the character and DC Comics lore and media (including more than a few deep pulls). Unfortunately, that clear love for the source material can’t hide the film’s underwhelming story and execution. It’s not a disaster, not even close, but the end result is still considerably lacking and ultimately feels inconsequential.

There’s a lot to like in The Flash, despite its overall pedestrian quality. Director Andy Muschietti cranks out impressive work, delivering some eye-popping-though flawed set pieces and pulling out strong performances from the film’s cast, especially in the film’s first hour. The film’s opening action sequence is a particularly inventive piece of work despite the lacking quality of the special effects, which look about a decade old and shockingly unfinished. The sequence itself, where The Flash works to save a host of babies from a crumbling hospital, even looks a little ghoulish as a result of the poor visuals, and this is just the disappointing start of big action scenes hampered by subpar effects work.

Where the special effects stumble, the acting and even big chunks of the film’s plot thankfully give The Flash its biggest boost. Unquestionably stealing every single scene he’s in is Michael Keaton’s Batman, here a legitimate joy to watch as the actor steps back in arguably his biggest role. Keaton hasn’t lost a single step in the 30 years since he last put on the cape and cowl in Batman Returns, and watching his Batman take down the bad guys, while Danny Elfman’s iconic Batman theme blares, is still such a thrill. Keaton’s Batman is nearly worth the price of admission alone and is arguably the film’s MVP.

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Also putting on an impressive show is Sasha Calle as Supergirl. While her role is smaller than expected, she nevertheless makes for a commanding presence, especially during her big introductory scene and the film’s climactic battle. As she seeks answers for what happened to her little cousin, Kal-El, Kara Zor-El here is a force to be reckoned with and undeniably captivating to watch. Similarly, Ben Affleck’s extended cameo as Batman adds a few cool splashy moments, and serves as a fine final outing for his take on the Dark Knight, but it doesn’t really offer much else.

While Batman and Supergirl are just along for the ride, The Flash himself is the driving force behind this wobbly big-screen actioner and, for the most part, makes for an engaging one. Ezra Miller is fantastic as the world’s fastest super-hero, even if the movie is seemingly trying to dampen their efforts with bizarre character choices, a wonky costume and muddy visuals. Despite how the character was portrayed as a chatty, hyper buffoon in the big-screen Justice League movie, this film’s take on the Scarlet Speedster here is a little more toned down, though the character can be still grating at times (though that’s clearly by design).

Miller’s performances here, as both the current and younger versions of Barry Allen, almost seems like an attempt to address and somewhat course-correct the character’s big-screen persona. While the goofy buffoonery is still very much present, The Flash posits this behavior is essentially the result of Allen’s traumatic past and his inability to move past the loss of his mother. As Allen learns how to deal with his emotions, his childish behavior starts to slips away bit by bit. And, since the younger Allen has never had to deal with such a loss, his silly antics are considerably … amped up.

Miller pulls off the double act admirably, and is especially convincing when both versions of Allen simultaneously share the screen (which is for the majority of the film’s run time). Both Allens make for a fun double act, especially as they’re comically unable to get along initially, and bring in some of the film’s biggest laughs. That said, those who don’t care for the character’s big screen portrayal will probably find The Flash a difficult to endure because, geeze, the younger Allen will truly test the patience of many movie-goers, fan or not.

When The Flash forgoes the eye candy and focuses on its core story, particularly Barry’s mission to save his mother and father, it really zooms. Despite the choppy nature of the plot, its emotional core is rock solid. Muschietti makes a convincing and believable case for why The Flash does what he does, and it nearly single-handedly keeps this shoddy film from falling apart. While The Flash definitely comes up short, Muschietti’s skilled hand keeps it from being the disaster it could’ve been. It’s just a shame that so many other aspects of this movie just don’t work.

Even with a relatable and engaging core, The Flash really doesn’t offer anything new at the end of the day, but instead just covers material better handled elsewhere (such as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse or its lesser cousin, Spider-Man: No Way Home). While the nostalgia is strong here, though to a fault (there are some very questionable cameo choices during the film’s climax that feel icky), it can only blind viewers from the film’s scattered, tired plot and clunky visuals for so long.

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There are just too many distracting, bizarre or non-nonsensical parts that just slow The Flash down. Characters, such as General Zod and Iris West, are completely wasted, and the story is just an under-developed cynical jumble of multiverse mumbo-jumbo. Despite attempting to spell out how The Flash going back in time creates a mess on such a grand scale, it’s an underwhelming lesson that more hand-waves it all away as opposed to actually explaining it. The film’s stripped down spin on the popular Flashpoint comic story-line ends up being just too thin and unsatisfying.

Admittedly though, The Flash does offer sporadic moments where the movie clicks creatively, such as finding a pretty novel way to slip in The Flash’s origin. Still, these odd moments are sparse at best, and easily get lost in the noise. Even the movie’s score by Benjamin Wallfisch, which is fantastic, gets mercilessly gobbled up. Muschietti puts in the work to try and balance the heavier themes of the films with its more comedic time-travel antics, but the under-cooked and ‘been there, done that’ vibe of the plot is nearly impossible for The Flash to recover from.

And on-top of that, more than a few of the film’s should-be crowd-pleasing moments are sunk by distractedly weak CG. For a film that took so long to gestate, it’s surprising how much of it looks, frankly, unfinished. Whether it’s the admittedly clever opening sequence, Supergirl’s Siberia break-out, or the bombastic climactic showdown with Zod, all these scenes lack polish and punch.

The Flash really picks up speed when it focuses on the story’s emotional core, but can’t seem to catch it’s stride when it comes to nearly everything else. Keaton and Calle make for great supporting characters, and having two Barrys front and center for the duration of the film’s running time works surprisingly well. There’s even a few scenes that likely elicit sobs from the audience, but it’s not enough to save The Flash from it’s many, many missteps.

It’s also difficult for The Flash to get out from under the shadow of lead actor Miller’s troubling off-screen actions. For those who opt to skip The Flash due to their behavior, and understandably so, there’s honestly not much here to miss. Barry Allen screws up and then eventually fixes his mistake, thanks to help of Batman and Supergirl and a host of cameos, with everything basically reset by the end credits. That’s essentially it, and it’s unlikely any aspect of this movie will matter or be revisited down the road.

Regardless of its occasional bright spots, The Flash falls considerably short of the finish line. Even with its slick directing and a collection of strong performances, the stunningly weak graphics and a skimpy, frustrating plot that fails to cover new ground – or even make sense – prove too much for the film to overcome. Even considering it as an adaptation of DC Comics’ Flashpoint, it comes across as too watered-down and dull to have any lasting impact (just watch Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox instead). The Flash may be one of DC Comics’ biggest characters, but his film fails to do him – and one of his most well-known stories – justice. Skip, or Enter at Your Own Risk!




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Also Available:

“The Flash: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” by WaterTower Music, plus assorted home media releases from Warner Bros. Discovery
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“The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive” by DC Comics (“The Flash” prequel comic series/collection)
The Flash Comic Books The Flash Comic Books The Flash Comic Books The Flash Comic Books The Flash Comic Books The Flash Comic Books The Flash Comic Books The Flash Comic Books
The Flash Comic Books The Flash Comic Books The Flash Comic Books The Flash Comic Books The Flash Comic Books The Flash Comic Books The Flash Comic Books The Flash Comic Books The Flash Comic Books

Related Reviews:
Man of SteelBatman v. Superman: Dawn of JusticeJustice LeagueZack Snyder’s Justice League

Batman ’89 Comic ReviewBatman: The Motion Picture Anthology 1989-1997 Blu-ray ReviewBatman: 20th Anniversary Blu-ray Review

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