For a film with a questionable lead, it's kinda enjoyable?
Using the Speed Force, the Flash (played by Ezra Miller) goes back in time to prevent his mother from dying. But that one act of kindness has consequences that are rippled across the timelines.
Just when you think that superhero fatigue has set in, films like The Flash prove otherwise. It's a fun romp that is action-packed and still delivers the pathos. Ezra Miller, whom you've seen in previous films like the Fantastic Beasts series, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and that seven-second clip where Miller grabs a woman by the throat and throws her to the ground, is likeable as a superhero with inadequacy issues.
Despite the controversy around Miller's personal life, their character on screen is charismatic and winsome. When Miller's character interact with his younger self, there's a great distinction between the two Millers' personality that you almost forget that they are played by the same person. Miller is charming so much so that for two hours you're so caught up in the visual effects and story, you forgot that they were arrested and charged in Hawaii with disorderly conduct and harassment for a physical confrontation with patrons at a karaoke bar.
Drawing from the Flashpoint story arc from the Flash comic book, our protagonist discovers that he's able to use the Speed Force and travel back in time. He reasons that if he can do that, he'll be able to stop his mother's murder and exonerate his father who is wrongfully imprisoned for her murder. The movie dives into what happens when we change the past. And as with all time travel films you've seen, the answer is a resounding 'not great'. It is often with the best of intentions that the road to hell is paved.
Stopping his mother's murder has not only affected all that happens from the point of alteration, it has also affected events prior to it as well. Welcome to the multiverse as the Flash's actions splinters from the original timeline into many others thus giving birth to a future escape plan into retconning the DC universe.
In this current timeline, there's a new Batman and Superman never landed in Kansas as a baby. Instead—and this isn't a spoiler as the trailers have already given away—we get Michael Keaton as Batman and Sasha Calle as Supergirl. Keaton's Batman has a special place in my heart on being able to break the campy tone that Adam West had set up. He still has that slight impish twinkle in his eye as he gets to issue beat-downs in his batsuit (hey look, now Keaton can move his head in the Bat-cowl!). Calle looks great as Supergirl and can give Batman a run for his money in the brooding department. She doesn't say much but she commands the scene with equal parts physicality and vulnerability.
There's the pomp and circumstance that you expect with superhero films. The Flash is no different except that in the later half of the film, you get a little fatigued. Action sequences suddenly become flashy (my God, really?) and have no other reason than being a visual spectacle.
And speaking of 'visual spectacle', what is up with the CGI? They look off, like there wasn't enough time for animators to polish it up. According to director Andy Muschietti, the look was intentional because as we are seeing things from the Flash's perspective, light and textures operate differently when the Flash taps into the Speed Force or is time travelling in the Chrono Bowl.
This seems too... convenient. A crew member who worked on the movie had a different take on the CGI and given that The Flash was in development hell, it seems more likely to be a case of a poor "collaboration process between the effects companies and entertainment studios".
Another thing that got our goat is the ending. The big takeaway is that you cannot change the past because that screws up the timeline. The Flash undoes the damage but he still altered the past to exonerate his dad in the present. Of course, the timeline gets affected (again) and I can't help but think that everything the film does was unravelled just to set up that one jokey cameo.
There's something telling about a hero that doesn't learn from their mistake. That even after repeated misdemeanours, they still get to live out their life without any repercussions? What is this? The real world? I watch the movies to escape reality, damn it!
There are cameos galore. Watch out for easter eggs like an Elseworld of the aborted Nicholas Cage's Superman Lives and a realised version of the aborted Back to the Future version with Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly. There's also the staple superfluous end-credit scene and, if you wait long after that, we might see whether Ezra Miller is able to continue their career unscathed.
The Flash is now out in theatres.