Director: Andy Muschietti
Cast: Ezra Miller, Ben Affleck, Michael Keaton, Kiersey Clemons, Sasha Calle, Michael Shannon
Runtime: 2 hr 24 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Violence)
Released By: Warner Bros
Opening Day: 14 June 2023
Synopsis: 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?
Wow, this 13th instalment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) actually works. In fact, it is the one of the best superhero movies we’ve seen in recent years. And that’s quite a feat, considering it’s one featuring DC characters.
You won’t blame us for having a nagging feeling that this movie featuring The Flash might be a letdown before watching it. Over the last decade (yes, it has been 10 years), the movie had a troubled production process with different directors and writers enter and exit the production. Surely that’s not a good thing. Eventually, it would be Andy Muschietti taking on the role of director, from a screenplay by Christina Hodson.
But the most notable issue with the movie is its lead Ezra Miller, who got the role of The Flash all the way back in 2014. The actor identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns. If you have been online often enough, you’d know the series of scandals and allegations surrounding them. Without going into details, Miller was reported going through treatment for mental health issues in 2022. With an impending release for the blockbuster, things were definitely looking bad for the movie studio.
Another sign came when you realise the marketing materials of the movie did not focus on The Flash. Trailers featuring Batman and Supergirl were released. Posters featured all three characters. And does the world really need another superhero movie exploring the perils of the multiverse? We thought not.
We sat through the 144 minute movie with an open mind and stepped out pleasantly surprised that it is much, much better than what we expected. In fact, given how Marvel has produced somewhat dreary movies recently (no thanks to genre fatigue), this movie influenced by the DC comic book storyline Flashpoint featuring multiple DC characters is engaging from beginning to end. In fact, it has an unanticipated amount of heart.
When we first meet Barry Allen (aka The Flash) in the movie, he is an everyday man with a job. Audiences are already aware of his superhuman speed from past DCEU movies, so it is only right to have an opening sequence to showcase that. After saving countless babies, a frantic nurse and a cute therapy dog from a hospital, Barry jokes how he is just a janitor who cleans up the mess for The Justice League. We like him as a character already.
Like almost all other superheroes, Barry has a sad past and this movie is about him coming to terms with it. With the power to go to any timeline he wants, the speedster finds a way to go back in time to prevent the death of his mother. Any discerning comic or movie fan will advise against that because of the cosmic consequences it can bring. But this journey allows us to see Barry cross paths with an alternate version of Batman (yay, Michael Keaton!), Supergirl (Sasha Calle) and even a different version of himself.
Miller delivers a great performance. As two Barry Allens, Miller is endearing to watch, and you almost forget about their off screen troubles. You also feel for the two different Barry Allens portrayed on screen. One is a slightly weary superhero desperately trying to change the past, while one is a laidback teenager amazed with his new superpowers. As the movie progresses, you can feel the growing rage and thirst for revenge and you know things are just going to get messier.
Fan service is also a very big contributing factor why this movie is extremely enjoyable. 90s kids will cheer when Keaton says “I’m Batman”, and watch in awe when the Batcave, Batmobile and Batwing appears on the big screen. We won’t give away too much, but the Easter eggs come fast and furious during one important sequence towards the end of the movie – and it is a real treat for DC fans.
We hope we do not appear to be condoning Miller’s misconduct here, but their charisma shines as Barry Allen and this may be one of our favourite superhero movies to date.
(Despite the movie's troubled production and controversies surrounding its lead actor, this multiverse superhero movie is one of the finest blockbusters we've seen to date)
Review by John Li