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‘The Flash’ celebrates legacy of DC’s screen history in good-not-great film

‘The Flash’ is a film which could have easily crumbled under the weight of the expectation and hype that surrounds it, but ultimately it does deliver a solid film which honours the legacy of DC Comics characters on screen.

There has been a lot of hype and build-up for ‘The Flash’ after numerous delays, and the movie should be commended for how it pulls off an endearing and moving story, while maintaining the fun and action that people expect from superhero films.

‘The Flash’ sees worlds collide after Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) 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 superheroes 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?

Director Andy Muschietti should be commended for doing a stellar job with the direction of the film, which really adds to the experience, and comprehensively delivers the first-ever standalone feature introduction of Barry Allen.

The film manages to compress and trim the vast lore of Barry Allen into an easy to follow story, which is boosted by the arrival and appearances of former famous iterations of Batman, such as Ben Affleck and predominantly Michael Keaton.

Muschietti has thrilling action scenes, and has paced the film well. He evenly balances the emotional heart of the story while never letting it get melodramatic or boring. The director cheekily makes a cameo in the film, and is a nice Easter egg for keenly eyed watchers.

Another reason why the film works is the charming performance of embattled actor Ezra Miller. Miller, who uses ‘they/them/theirs’ pronouns, has been making headlines over the past year for the many off-screen scandals which have in some part contributed towards the film’s delayed release.

It is difficult to separate the harm and distress they have caused when watching the film. Ultimately it is up to each individual person to decide whether or not they will support/watch the movie, while taking their behaviour into account.

With that said, Miller is really good at their job. ‘The Flash’ really works because of the performance Miller delivers as two contrasting Barry Allens. They pull off the humour with impressive comedic timing in the film, and really commit to the emotional stakes.

Each version of Barry Allen feels different, but not for the sake of it, but really because Miller makes the effort to deliver a performance based on each character’s varied lived experience.

Nothing about their performance feels disingenuous, and in superhero movies, it is easy to tell when actors are faking it.

‘The Flash’ ensemble also includes Sasha Calle, Michael Shannon (‘Man of Steel’), Ron Livingston (‘The Conjuring’), Maribel Verdú (‘Y tu mamá también’), Kiersey Clemons (‘Sweetheart’), Antje Traue (‘Man of Steel’) and Michael Keaton (‘Batman’).

Sasha Calle and Michael Keaton have the most to do beside Miller in ‘The Flash’, and they really make their time on screen work. Keaton’s return to Batman is definitely a tactic to play on the nostalgia of audiences, but he still charms and is having a fun time doing so.

Calle really does a commendable job, and she shines on the screen alongside Miller.

Keaton’s return to Batman is definitely a tactic to play on the nostalgia of audiences, but he still charms and is having a fun time doing so.

Where the film falters is that it feels late, as media literacy around who Barry Allen is, has risen, thanks to the successful ‘The Flash’ TV show.

Many people have watched that TV show at some point, and even the first season alone covers such a deeper development of who Barry is, that it makes “The Flash” movie feel light.

Even some running sequences of the movie feel lacklustre as the show has delivered sequences which feel exciting.

While that is no fault of the movie, it is just a result of the show feeling more recent and fresh in the cultural zeitgeist. The movie would have benefited greatly from being released years sooner.

Another way in which the movie disappoints is the under-baked and misshapen CGI. Given how long the film has been delayed, more time could have gone into correcting the CGI look as some parts of the film look overly-animated.

Even the moments when Miller is beside themselves on screen, there are times when it looks like they have a floating head, as it is clear their face was replaced over their body-double.

It happens enough in the film to take a person out of scenes, and also because other scenes pull it off very well. These are certainly knocks against the film, but ultimately they ruin the whole experience.

Muschietti and Miller are the ones who succeed the most as their work on ‘The Flash’ is most notable, and makes it a fun time at the cinema.

‘The Flash’ comes at a time when numerous other blockbusters have hit the screen, and has a lot of competition. It is thankfully worthwhile the price of admission, and time spent watching the film.

–IOL