Let me just start by saying this is easily my favorite DCEU movie, and it’s not even close.
My son and I got to attend a sneak peek preview of The Flash last night in Scottsdale. The theater was full and brimming with anticipation. I, myself, curbed my enthusiasm because I’ve been let down by more than a few superhero movies of late, and DC movies in particular don’t have a great track record.
With that said, this film opens with a delightfully entertaining scene that sets the tone for the majority of the film, which was lighter and littered with laughs among the collateral damage on all sides.
Though there were plenty of laughs, The Flash was not without an emotional core that actually paid off in the end, more on that in a moment.
Let me start with what I liked, and what I loved (spoiler free), before I get to what I could have done without and what I really did not like. I’ll include a bonus “things I loved” in the spoiler section at the very end, for those who care to read it.
What I liked. Overall, The Flash had good action, a strong narrative, and fun character interplay throughout. I liked Ezra Miller, in his less spastic moments, as Barry Allen and his obtuse approach to the conflict was entertaining. I liked that the cameos did not take me out of the story, they pulled me further in. I liked that this movie gave me something to look forward to right until the very end.
I LOVED every single scene Michael Keaton was in and to see Batman being Batman all over the screen. Michael Keaton has long been one of my favorites and he stepped back into the role like he’d never been away. I really loved that this movie brought you through all the superhero and science fiction magic to the heart of the story, a parent child love that endures. Oh, and I loved that we got a new Kryptonian booty kicker who was not just a sub for Superman but a character with their own unique story arc.
What I could have done without. The pacing was kind of uneven, it starts off with a bang and immediately wanes, to the point where my teenage son started to check out. They tried to introduce Iris West, who did nothing for the story and played no role in the plot, other than a super contrived “realization” for Barry from something innocuous she said. Didn’t need it, didn’t want it. No offense to Kiersey Clemons, who did a fine job, but in a movie that was already two and a half hours we did not need an underdeveloped subplot about a college crush.
I did not like that we had another time travel/multiverse mashup extravaganza with a quasi-villain whose origin was tried so closely to the protagonist that they were almost literally doing battle with themselves. You’ve seen shades of this movie before, if not full-on repeats of tropes that are from the not-so-distant movie past. I will give them credit for doing it well and putting their own spin on it, but I feel like if I have one more explanation of time travel and the perils of navigating it I should be awarded an honorary doctorate in Time Travelology. I will say one more thing on this topic, to their credit, in the spoiler section below.
Overall, if you like this genre, if you like DC comics or DC films, The Flash is worth the watch. If you are fatigued of superhero movies this will do little to rejuvenate your love for them. Is this a good watch? I’d say yes, mostly. Is it my favorite DCEU film? If we are disqualifying the Chris Nolan films, then yes. Should you carve out a hundred and fifty minutes and plunk down your hard-earned cash on The Flash? It depends. I’m glad I watched it and I will probably see it again, which is more than I can say for just about every other superhero film to come out in the last three or four years.
Still reading? Okay, I’m going to say some stuff about the film. Stuff that’s not in the trailer. Stuff that the nerd blogs have probably leaked after Cinecon but I didn’t read them, so it was a surprise to me and I liked it.
Spoilers ahead. Spoilers coming, right now. Spoilers.
Three things that I really loved that The Flash did. First, the moment at the end where Barry says goodbye to his mother was so so good. They walked you right into it and the payoff was beautiful. I teared up a little and was not alone.
Second, Nicolas Kal-El Freaking Cage! I don’t know how many people in the movie theater fully appreciated what DC did with that cameo. They literally built a scene from a scrapped Superman project in the late 90’s. One that was so fascinating that super-sweaty super fan/filmmaker Jon Schnepp made a documentary about it, The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened?
That moment was so sweet as I thought of our dearly departed friend Jon, and his love comics and movies and these characters. Seriously, for those of you confused about why a long-haired Nic Cage was dressed as Superman, do some research. You won’t be disappointed.
Last but not least, DC finally stopped playing the role of little cinematic brother to Marvel and reminded everyone that they’ve been doing this television and movie making thing for a long long time. During the climatic conclusion of the time traveling/multiverse storyline they emptied the bench, in terms of cameos, brief and virtual as they may be. DC said, ‘Oh Marvel, you built up a crossover that was ten years in the making. That’s cute. How about you suck on half a century?’ Even in CGI it was a treat to see Chris Reeves again, and standing next to Helen Slater? Yes please. They even threw in George Reeves and we got multiple Batmen in this piece, including a tasty reprise from George Clooney as Bruce Wayne.
DC lost ground quickly to Marvel in terms of their cinematic universe and it’s about time they came swinging back. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what comes next.