Amidst numerous delays and offscreen speculations about the fate of the movie, Director Andy Muschietti has finally seen his big-screen adaptation of DC Comics The Flash arrive.
We first saw the film in late April at Cinemacon and now that we have seen the final cut with additional footage and a noticing credits, I can finally give you my impressions.
The movie opens with Barry Allen (Ezra Miller), called into action to help with an issue in Gotham City which offers a chance for an extended action scene as well as some cameo appearances that should delight fans.
Like most superheroes, Barry has to contend with work and personal issues. His time as the Flash often makes him late for work and even more of a social outcast than he already is. The arrival of an old school friend reminds him that his father is scheduled to have a court appearance on appeal of his conviction for murdering his wife many years earlier. Barry is obsessed with proving his father’s innocence; however, there is little evidence that can support his appeal.
Despite warnings not to alter time, Barry travels to the past to make a slight adjustment. This results in his mother living and growing up in a two-parent household for himself. His euphoria becomes short-lived when Barry runs into a younger version of himself. He realizes that if he does not enable his younger self with his powers, then he will never exist to create the alternate reality where his parents are safe and happy.
The younger Barry is extremely immature and annoying. When he becomes confused with powers while the other loses them, there are numerous opportunities for comic mayhem. The film briefly touches upon these before returning to the more serious aspects of the story.
As he was warned, Barry has created fractions in reality. The one that he finds himself in has several changes from the one that he knows, including a world free of superpowered beings. This becomes a serious problem when General Zod (Michael Shannon) arrives, and there is no Superman or Justice League to save the day.
In an act of desperation, Barry seeks out Batman (Michael Keaton) and is shocked to discover that he is different than the one that he knows in his reality. Both Barrys and Batman hatch a plan of desperation. They desperately mount a rescue and offensive to save humanity.
The film has some fantastic visual effects, but like most hero films, it becomes heavily bogged down on them in a final act that, in many ways, seems at times anticlimactic to the potential that the story has been building to. Miller is solid as the two Barrys, although the younger version of them becomes very annoying and at times some segments drag on.
Keaton absolutely steals the film and brings a much-needed presence to the action. He seems to really be enjoying his return to the role, and his segments are often the most compelling parts of the film. He provides a stabilizing and grounding presence to the Barrys.
There are numerous cameos throughout the film that I will not spoil. Suffice it to say they should delight fans and offer some intriguing questions.
The biggest issue now is the future of the character. Gunn and Saffron are busy building their DC universe, while outside projects are currently in the works. It is not a secret that legal issues and outside distractions have been associated with Miller to the point where some question whether the film could be released despite its lavish budget.
The final box office numbers will be very interesting because I found the film quite enjoyable and a pleasant surprise in one of the better DC cinematic efforts, notwithstanding the final act, which became a bit formulaic and anticlimactic for my liking. While it doesn’t approach the level of several of the Marvel films, it does show that there is plenty of potential to make solid stories within the DC universe.
4 stars out of 5