thu 18/07/2024

The Flash review - back to DC, unremarkably | reviews, news & interviews

The Flash review - back to DC, unremarkably

The Flash review - back to DC, unremarkably

Troubled star Ezra Miller in a troubled DC Comics world

Confused, on all fronts: Ezra Miller as The Flash

Superhero movies are the nearest equivalent to American holiday parades: they come along with noisy, bright regularity, and crowds either flock to them, many eager persons deep along the sidewalk, or flee to quieter neighbourhoods.

The Flash, yet another foray in the DC Comics Universe (the one that contains Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman) is extraordinary only for the pre-release bad press surrounding its star, Ezra Miller, who after brushes with the law in the US and Iceland, announced that they are seeking psychiatric care.

As a movie, The Flash turns out to be a mix of adequate, familiar computer-generated battles and a genuinely affecting story of a young man, Barry Allen aka The Flash (Miller), coping with a family tragedy. His mother (Maribel Verdu) was murdered, while his father languishes in prison. Barry, a skilled forensic investigator, hopes to prove him innocent. Our hero is crushed, not only by his failure to save his parents but by his secret identity, where he's cast as the “janitor” to the Justice League, speedily tidying up the chaos wrought by vengeful Batman (Ben Affleck). Here director Andy Muschietti (It, It II) and the movie go into overdrive, at length, with a set-piece involving babies tumbling from skyscrapers along with the usual car crashes. (Miller, amusingly, quavers at the sight of a beloved superheroine: “I know that sex exists,” he says, “I just haven’t experienced it yet.”)

Then Barry, as The Flash, sprints despairingly into the clouds and apparently rips a hole in the time-space continuum. The Flash has travelled backward in time – a trick he can repeat. Of course, he imagines he can fix the past and overwrite his, and his family’s past. Anyone who has read Ray Bradbury’s A Sound of Thunder can hear butterfly wings flapping: change the past, you change the future. Heedless Barry ends up in an alternate timeline, meeting his happy, safe parents, but also his slightly-younger self (Miller again), who is a non-superpowered underachiever with a braying laugh. Worse: other superheroes either don’t exist or refuse to help when alien invaders from Krypton (including Michael Shannon as dreary General Zod) threaten to destroy the world.

What follows is a roundup of various personages from the DC world, though not in their expected guises. Alternate-timeline Bruce Wayne/Batman (Michael Keaton) explains the film’s loopy metaverse theories with a bowl of spaghetti, then digs in to the role that made him an eminence grise of the genre. He’s a blast. But despite the multiverse, as in too many comic book movies, there are certain immutable laws. For instance: most of the women in The Flash’s orbit will still end up stabbed in the heart, repeatedly. Not because they’re vampires. They’re just disposable.

In this exploding, ever-askew universe, The Flash does find still points that make an impact: when the hero revs up for a run, crackles of electricity burst at the seams of his vermillion super-suit. When The Flash isn’t consumed by lengthy aerial battles and whirling roundabouts of effects, tossing out names and faces of nearly everyone who has worn a hero cape, the movie’s hero embarks on a real journey, falling short in the final steps.

When the hero revs up for a run, crackles of electricity burst at the seams of his vermillion super-suit

rating

Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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