The Flash Review: An Energized Sprint Through Time and Multiverses
In the race to super-stardom, DC’s “The Flash” sprints headlong into the fray, embracing a fever dream of time travel, multiverses, and a playful dose of nostalgia. But in its haste to break the sound barrier, the film stumbles over its own speedy ambition, reminding us that even the fastest man alive should sometimes stop to tie his shoes.
Directed by Andy Muschietti, renowned for his horror hit “It“, “The Flash” sends its quicksilver hero, Barry Allen, portrayed with kinetic zeal by Ezra Miller, on a personal mission across time and parallel worlds. Following the tragic murder of his mother and the wrongful imprisonment of his father, Barry uses his lightning speed to time-travel back to the past to rewrite his own heart-rending origin story. This delicate meddling with the time-space continuum results in delightful chaos, introducing a younger and carefree version of Barry himself, and a refreshing turn by Michael Keaton, reprising his iconic Batman role after 20-plus years.
One of the film’s triumphs lies in its nuanced exploration of Barry’s duality, providing an intimate portrayal of a character traditionally viewed through a prism of comedic relief. Miller carries the weight of two versions of Barry, demonstrating impressive range and depth. The throwback performance of Keaton adds a rich layer of nostalgia that is hard to resist. Moreover, the breakout performance of Sasha Calle as Supergirl, full of power and complexity, hints at great things to come in the DC Universe.
Despite these high points, “The Flash” trips over its own speed force when it comes to narrative coherence. The film races to incorporate a dizzying array of disparate elements, reminiscent of the crowded ensemble storytelling that Marvel has mastered but which continues to elude DC. As a result, its strong thematic undercurrents, like the necessity of living in the present and the courage to let go of the past, are overshadowed by its overly ambitious narrative juggling.
Against the backdrop of its predecessors, “The Flash” doesn’t fully hold its ground in the superhero marathon. While it exudes a commendable energy and features an array of intriguing characters, it’s unable to quite match the narrative finesse of earlier Marvel counterparts, or even the dramatic intensity of DC’s own “The Dark Knight”. That said, it’s a better Marvel movie than most lately, though “Across the Spider-Verse” has them beat in terms of multiverses.
“The Flash” dashes valiantly across the starting line of its solo adventure, harnessing the emotional charge of its protagonist, but loses its footing in the execution of its narrative acrobatics. If this is DC’s attempt at a relay race with the Marvel Universe, it may need to adjust its pace and stride before the next baton pass. Despite its shortcomings, it’s a ride with flashes of brilliance that fans of the superhero genre will appreciate. But is the end of this particular cinematic universe, or just the end of the beginning?
RATING: 3.0 out of 5.
The Flash will be in theaters on June 16th.