Anyone that knows me, knows how excited I was to see The Flash. While I enjoy Marvel, I unashamedly lean towards DC when it comes to a favourite in the comic books war. With The Flash, I had been eagerly anticipating this film ever since I had heard that Michael Keaton was returning to his iconic Bruce Wayne/Batman role.
For me, Michael Keaton is Batman. While I have loved Christian Bale and Ben Affleck in the role, Michael Keaton was the Batman I grew up with and the one that I first fell in love with. That love was enhanced even more when as a young boy, my dad took me on a trip that saw me sit in the actual Batmobile that was used in the Keaton Batman films.
With an infusion of the modern DC universe and a healthy dose of nostalgia, I was expecting something pretty special from The Flash but I found myself leaving the cinema feeling a little underwhelmed. While the film delivered when it came 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, The Flash opens with Barry Allen aka The Flash (Ezra Miller) 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 are frustrating him. Any evidence he finds is not enough to free his father 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).
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. This is an issue, seeing that General Zod (Michael Shannon) 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) has hung up his bat suit but is only too willing to give it all another shot.
The Flash is one of those films that will take me a long time to digest. On a positive note, I love what they have done with the character of Barry Allen and Ezra Miller plays both Barrys exceptionally well. 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 superheroes and their true identities.
Sadly though, I also found there are a few cons with this film, starting with the film’s consistencies. Early on the action sequences, especially the hospital baby/therapy dog fall and an amazing Ben Affleck Batman chase, all work really well. but I found when the film needed to reach its action peak, the sequences are so under-whelming, I felt like I was watching a DC television show. The time-travel sequences lacked originality, while the Zod versus Batman, the Barrys and Super-Girl (Sasha Calle) sessions maybe long, they just don’t have that bit extra that they needed in order to be memorable.
What The Flash did do well is with its surprises, and to be honest, they are what kept me interested in the film when I was feeling mostly under-whelmed. I won’t go into any spoiler territory, but there are enough many cameos and Easter Eggs throughout this film to satisfy to the point 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 I have a distinct feeling that this film was beyond what director Andy Muschietti was capable of delivering successfully. While the touching are the emotional parts of The Flash, and although some of the brave surprising twists do 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 movie.
Despite not finding the The Flash to be a bad film, I was expecting a lot more from it. There is enough in the film to suggest that the next films in the DC Extended 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 even I, a big DC fan, am finding myself going through multiverse fatigue at the moment.
The Flash is one for the true DC films fans. Just don’t expect it to be the masterpiece like so many of us had hoped it would be.