The Flash 2023 Review: Fast, Furious, and Phenomenal

Barry Allen (Ezra Miller), a.k.a. The Flash, goes back in time in an effort to save his slain mother and exonerate his father. Instead, he sets off a series of events that see him battling to defend the Multiverse while accompanied by a younger version of himself and a very different Batman.

The length of time it has taken for The Flash to have his own film – in a sublime act of Alanis-ing – has resulted in many changes to the DC Universe’s power structure. We should confront the issue at hand now that it has materialized: Barry Allen does, in fact, join the Speed Force.

Of course, there is also the issue of Ezra Miller, the movie’s star, whose behavior outside of the camera has frequently threatened to overshadow the picture. Your experience may differ on the difficult question of how to separate art from the artist, but from a performance standpoint, Miller excels in this situation. The actor in Justice League, especially the Joss Whedon version, has a propensity to mug nonstop as the movie’s chosen comedic relief. Here, Miller gains from the choice to have not one, but two Barry Allens since it allows the younger, more carefree Barry to play the jester while the Alpha-Barry gets to learn and develop while mocking his naive older self.

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Michael Keaton’s comeback as Batman has received a lot of attention, but director Andy Muschietti, who is breaking away from horror following Mama and both It sequels, makes sure that this is a Flash movie. As a mini-sequel to Justice League, the tense first 20 minutes introduce Barry and Ben Affleck’s Batman before Barry, still reeling from the death of his murdered mother, hurtles back through time.

Keaton easily slips back into the Batsuit once more

As Batfleck warns, the remedy is invariably worse than the disease, trapping Barry in the past where he gradually realizes that things aren’t what they used to be. Included in this are Affleck’s transformation into Keaton and a lot of discussion about multiverses (assisted by a handy demonstration with spaghetti, though they could have just cheated and picked Spider-Man: No Way Home instead). While there is a temptation to utilize Keaton to deliver a short nostalgia punch (Danny Elfman’s Batman theme plays apparently on repeat), he fits perfectly back into the Batsuit again, offering a pleasantly grumpy contrast to both Barrys. It has been more than 30 years since Batman Returns.

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It’s interesting that there isn’t really a villain. Although Michael Shannon’s General Zod does make an appearance, Muschietti keeps him at a distance because he knows his guilt-ridden hero provides all the drama the film would ever require. Of course, it’s a blockbuster, and at the end, there’s plenty of CGI carnage, but it’s refreshing that the focus stays on Barry, a young man who has been fleeing ever since his mother was killed and who is just beginning to realize that it might be time to stop.

This film, which is slated to be among the last in the series known as the DCEU, is also one of the greatest; it’s a sweet and funny buddy comedy that deserves to be more than just a one-hit wonder.

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