Monkey see, monkey do – it’s come to a point where every movie (bonus points if it’s a superhero flick) is dabbling in the concept of the multiverse.
Fans collectively lost their minds when Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield joined Tom Holland in Spider-Man: No Way Home – the first superhero movie to introduce the multiverse – and Marvel Studios later followed through with their additions Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert took the concept outside of the superhero genre in their Oscar-winning Everything Everywhere All At Once and it looks like DC is heading straight into that direction too with The Flash.
In The Flash, Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) goes back in time to save his mother from her untimely death. While finding his way back home, he accidentally gets stuck in an alternate timeline where he, an alternate universe version of himself, and Batman (Michael Keaton), as well as the newly debuted Supergirl (Sasha Calle), are forced to team up and stop General Zodd (Michael Shannon) from destroying the planet.
Having been three years in the making, The Flash is an example of proper planning done right, with Andy Muschietti and writer Christina Hodson taking their time at fleshing the movie out – even if speed is the name of the game for the character. The result is a fairly successful take at exploring the multiverse, picking up where similar superhero movies stumbled, and steering clear of their past mistakes. Forget magic spells and high-technology mishaps, The Flash uses a bowl of spaghetti to explain the multiverse in such simple, layman terms that you won’t be scratching your head in confusion, or worse, explaining the concept all over again to your movie companion after it ends.
Of course, it’s not without flaws. The rules of time-travelling are complex, and The Flash still hasn’t fully nailed that right. Credit has to be given to the movie, however, for keeping the multiverse contained and more digestible for both fans and casual viewers, as it’s inherently a huge, complicated concept.
While The Flash is the movie to bring the multiverse to DC, it also operates as an origin movie for the titular character. Viewers who have caught Zack Snyder’s Justice League movie would recognise the coffee shop and spot Iris West (Kiersey Clemons) from a mile away, and this is the kind of clever setup fans can expect from the movie. In a similar vein, the speedster’s introduction is neatly conveyed through clear explanations, from the origin of his powers to who his important allies are. His backstory and character growth, as a result, is a lot more evident and fleshed out here, whereas Black Adam (Dwayne Johnson) and Aquaman (Jason Momoa) didn’t get the same treatment in their solo origin movie.
Our main gripe with the story is that there aren’t any major consequences to Barry’s actions. Without spoiling anything, the ending involves a major event where Barry’s fate took centre stage, but that’s alternate universe Barry, not the Barry we first met in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The outcome of the other character stories similarly lacked impact, and the inevitability of certain events takes away the significance of Barry’s time-meddling stints.
The lack of consequence also makes certain narrative points and characters feel redundant. In particular, Calle’s Supergirl debut was poorly executed, and The Flash did a major disservice to her – what’s worse, and even more frustrating, was that it took a good chunk of the second act to establish her character.
And that brings us to the uneven pacing. While the 2-hour-and-35-minute runtime didn’t necessarily feel long, The Flash’s second act is incredibly drawn out and tiring. It’s a pity, considering that the movie has a strong opening with well-written humour and action, but the second part’s slow introduction of Batman and Supergirl did little to sustain attention. The final leg, meanwhile, feels like a rushed job, and the poor CGI effects certainly turned the movie into an unbearable spectacle towards the end.
That said, The Flash is still an enjoyable watch and dare we say, is the best DC movie to come out as of late. After a disappointing Black Adam and lacklustre Shazam: Fury of the Gods, The Flash is a quintessential superhero movie that we’ve been wanting to see from DC since the release of Gal Gadot’s first Wonder Woman flick, courtesy of its great casting choices.
Here’s the thing: Miller’s chain of arrests and charges have plagued the news, and their actions are inexcusable. However, Miller’s incredible performance in the movie cannot be denied, and they impressed with a funny, relatable and charming iteration of the character. Everything that comes out of Miller’s mouth is tinged with a bit of humour and in certain scenes, the relevant emotions, leaving audiences with two different sides of Flash: a more mature, severe personality, and the immature, naive other self. To their credit, Miller plays both wonderfully.
When he appears, Keaton takes over as the headliner. Although fans knew way ahead of time that the 71-year-old actor would be reprising his role as Batman, nothing beats watching him return to the big screen as the Caped Crusader. From reciting well-known quotes like “Let’s get nuts” to the smirk on his face before he jumps out of a moving plane with no parachute, Keaton’s Batman is so full of personality and cool charm that every time the Batcape is extended in the air, we are caught in awe all over again. The Flash is Keaton’s movie, just as much as it is Miller’s and we’re not mad at it.
In all, The Flash is one of the best DC movies to come out as of late and nails down the multiverse concept that so many other movies failed to do. It’s got a good balance of humour, action and story that will keep both fans and new viewers engaged in the movie. Despite the lack of development in certain characters and weak CGI, it’s still an enjoyable watch, thanks to the performances by stars Miller and Keaton.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Monkey see, monkey do – and in this case, better than you! The Flash is not without flaws, but it’s one of the better multiversal movies to come out of the superhero genre as of late.
Story - 8/10
Direction - 7/10
Characterisation - 7/10
Geek Satisfaction - 7/10