Early marketing and interviews regarding The Flash hyped the best DC movie that Warner Brothers has made. Bold words, indeed. Yet anticipation was somewhat reserved due to real-life conflicts and controversy of its lead star. Further confusing matters was when the film was meant to take place. Was this meant to be the end of the so-called Snyder-verse? A soft reboot that set events in motion for the, what should we call it, Gunn-verse? Then trailers premiered, and Michael Keaton growls “Yeah, I’m Batman.” There was no clear answer. Excitement for the film quickly faded as audiences were faced with yet another probable direction-less entry in the studio’s repertoire. Perhaps as a result, casual audiences missed what turned out to be an earnest and heartfelt story with fun fan service.

Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) has grown more confident in his powers since last seen in Justice League. He’s a team player that is willing to clean up the messes of Batman in order to prove his father (Ron Livingston) innocent of the murder of his mom (Maribel Verdu). When one last shred of hope fades, Barry pushes his powers to the maximum. He discovers the ability to time travel. Encouraged by the ability to potentially change the fate of his family, he goes back in time but ends in an alternate universe where he encounters another unpowered version of himself. Working with this universe’s Batman (Keaton), Barry must find a way to set right the events he inadvertently changed and return to his own universe.

The Flash 2023 DC WB

The story, stripped away of some of the worst explanations of time travel and the multiverse, is a simple one. Barry wants nothing more than to save his family and writers Christina Hodson and Joby Harold paint a poignant reminder that the smallest events in one’s life can have lasting effects. Under their scribe, forgetting a can of tomatoes becomes a gut-wrenching travesty that is beautiful in its simplicity. It’s human. It’s relatable. Even Barry’s interactions with his alternate self bear the same grounded humanity that allows the otherworldly to seem authentic. It’s in the explanation of time travel where things fall apart.

The multiverse, conceptionally, is fairly simple if not too vast to truly comprehend. Every choice we have ever made has a counter, and that counter leads to different outcomes. Every one of these alternate decisions and outcomes happens simultaneously in other dimensions. Simple, right? Hollywood, however, has a fascination with the idea of the multiverse as a playground. A chance to pick and choose moments of its history that have worked, regurgitate them for the sheer joy of seeing a beloved actor or a deceased character again without the responsibility of giving that moment any meaning because, hey, it’s not part of the “main” universe. Is it cool? Most of the time, absolutely. Seeing Keaton’s Batman fly into action while Danny Elfman’s iconic score plays is a full-body goosebumps moment (and I’m not even a fan of Batman).

However, The Flash conceptualizes the multiverse differently. Barry’s time travel illogically includes the ability to travel between dimensions. This is enough for an audience to wrap their minds around. The visual representation of this makes things even more unclear. The word “unclear” is used intentionally because the CGI that accompanies this “time colosseum” is so undefined and unfinished, it would be forgivable if the audience felt they traveled back to the 90s when CGI was not refined. This would almost be forgivable if the CGI in the rest of the scenes was better, but it wasn’t. It is distracting in almost every scene of the movie which robs the story of some of its weight.

Miller, despite all real-life controversy, plays Barry with a certain innocence that is endearing. The character never seeks revenge for past traumas and instead looks for justice, not vengeance. Miller doesn’t shy away from allowing Barry to be emotional and vulnerable. This makes the fact that this is likely the last time Miller will portray the character more bittersweet. The charges against Miller are inexcusable. However, his performance makes it easy for the audience to separate the character from the actor.

The Flash 2023 DC WB

Director Andy Muschietti does an earnest job to elevate the film to something special. It is clear that the ever-shifting priorities of Warner Brothers studio clashed with the vision he had resulting in some uneven storytelling. The studio’s need to remind audiences that it was once good (Disney isn’t the only Studio celebrating 100 years this year) resulted in a baffling and completely illogical parade of past realized and unrealized actors portraying DC characters. Nothing warranted this moment, it bares no purpose other than for the studio to pat itself on the back. If nothing else, it feels like an In Memoriam for a studio that has been quick to reboot after every misstep. One can imagine that in another 15 years, a CGI de-aged Miller will grace our screens again as the studio once again tries to course correct.

However, for all its flaws, The Flash actually shines through as one of the DCU’s best. The principal cast is strong, the story is simple yet heartfelt, and the stakes are more personal. There is a joy in seeing Keaton don the black cowl again and Miller makes the alternate versions of Barry unique so it is never confusing when they share the screen. The CGI and explanation of time travel may distract from the story but, almost fortunately, the multiverse has been so over-utilized that audiences will just roll with it. Unlike Shazam: Fury of the Gods or Black Adam, The Flash makes enough of an impact to not be forgotten.

Josh’s Rating: 7/10

What do your think of The Flash and the current DCU? Let us know in the comments below! Read Borja’s review here! Watch The Flash in theaters now!

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