The Flash does the multiverse right, delivering a love letter to DC movies of the past and present. Packed with action, humor, and a ton of heart.
Comic book movies have all been tacking the multiverse storylines. Each studio is doing it in slightly different ways, but all of them can get confusing. When you involve time travel and multiple versions of characters, it is understandable that audience can be left with a few questions. DC has delivered the multiverse in, quite possibly, the easiest way to understand.
In The Flash there is a scene where Michael Keaton details how the multiverse and time travel works, using spaghetti. Oddly enough this provides a quick and simple explanation, allowing the rest of the movie to continue without many (if any at all) questions and confusion popping up. Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse explains it in a similar way as well, making it easy to draw comparison between the two.
If you have seen the trailers for The Flash you already have an idea of the premise of the film. Ezra Miller’s Flash wants to go back in time to stop something from happening, despite being warned by Ben Affleck’s Batman that this could have dire effects on the timeline. Once in the past, things get a bit crazy when he gets stuck there, and we end up seeing different versions of the Justice League heroes we know from the DC Universe. For example, there is Supergirl (Sasha Calle) instead of Superman and we now have Michael Keaton back as Batman.
You could say this is DC’s answer to Spider-Man: No Way Home. It is a way of bringing in actors who have previously filled these roles, to please fans of all ages, harnessing in on nostalgia. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, as the plot allows this work within the story. Viewers will never question why they went a certain way, as it all actually makes sense.
As someone who loves Michael Keaton as Batman, it was an absolute joy to see him on screen again, playing this well loved character. He has always been a fantastic Batman, and his performance in The Flash is no different. It is as if he has always been Batman. He doesn’t miss a beat stepping back into this role and I believe that fans will welcome him with open arms. Those who have never seen his films, just might find themselves rushing to check them out after watching this movie.
He very much steals the show at times, proving that he has still got it. Keaton’s performance feels exactly like an older Bruce Wayne. It is very believable that he is the exact same Batman from Batman and Batman Returns. I am not sure how many of his own stunts he did, but he is thrown right into the action and kicks some serious butt at times.
Speaking of action, fans won’t have to wait very long before a big action sequence is played on screen. The classic Barry Allen slow motion effect is used heavily, and while it is fun to watch, it doesn’t always look great. There are a few times where the CGI is downright laughable, and you can’t help but wonder why DC didn’t bother to fix it. Don’t get me wrong, there are some moments that look awesome, but the very first one, which is outside a hospital, has some full on cringey decisions and visuals.
The big battle in the third act looks fantastic, at least. There are some pretty intense fight sequences throughout it, and this is where we get to see the characters shine. It is always fun getting to see Batman use his gear, and to see Flash running around in slow motion setting up what is essentially a domino effect. At the same time, the personal plot points are coming to a head, so the third act becomes a roller coaster of emotions.
The emotional beats of this film are part of what makes it so special, and makes it work so well. Barry just wanted to save his family, but he unknowingly unleashed a whole mess, that he was left to clean up. Of course he has himself to help, that universe’s Barry. The interaction between these two is very much like mentor and mentee. There is a lot of humor in the way the two get to know each other, and in their connection.
Ezra Miller has always been a great performer, and no matter what they have personally done, it is hard to deny it. They have always shined in this role, and The Flash is no different. Ezra essentially plays two completely different versions of Barry, and must act against themselves. This can be hard to pull off, but they do it in a way that feels genuine and believable. They feel like two different characters, which is why The Flash accomplishes what it does. Without their performance, audiences would question what is happening.
To be honest, I went into this movie not wanting to like it. It is a whole lot easier to talk about if Ezra gives a poor performance and the film is a mess. Sorry guys, that simply isn’t that case. It’s a really good movie, for multiple reasons. There is a great script, some pretty awesome action sequences, and a whole lot of heart. The stuff with Barry and his parents really hit me in the gut — especially as a parent myself. By the end I was fighting back tears.
Both Keaton and Calle give wonderful performances as well. General Zod was always a formidable villain, and while the story really isn’t about him, the time he has on screen will send chills down your spine. He is a scary and powerful villain. Always has been. Likely always will be.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
About The Flash
Worlds collide in “The Flash” when Barry uses his superpowers to travel back in time in order to change the events of the past. But when his attempt to save his family inadvertently alters the future, Barry becomes trapped in a reality in which General Zod has returned, threatening annihilation, and there are no Super Heroes to turn to.
That is, unless Barry can coax a very different Batman out of retirement and rescue an imprisoned Kryptonian… albeit not the one he’s looking for. Ultimately, to save the world that he is in and return to the future that he knows, Barry’s only hope is to race for his life. But will making the ultimate sacrifice be enough to reset the universe?
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Tessa Smith is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic. She is also a Freelance Writer. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics Associations including the Critics Choice Association, Hollywood Critics Association, and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association.