REVIEW: The Flash is a better Justice League movie than the Justice League movie
Here is our spoiler-free review of The Flash, arriving in Irish cinemas next week.
It is tough to discuss The Flash without discussing the noise surrounding the movie, from the incidents involving lead actor Ezra Miller, to the impending relaunch of the DC cinematic universe. We're going to do our best to focus just on this movie, and in terms of big budget entertainment, The Flash certainly delivers.
If you can imagine the zippy energy of the first Shazam! movie, but paired with a scale and scope of Joss Whedon's frankensteinian Justice League (without that movie's absence of entertainment), and you're pretty much there.
Barry Allen (Miller) is having a tough time balancing his life of being the "janitor" of the Justice League, only being called by Alfred (Jeremy Irons) when Batman (Ben Affleck) needs help cleaning up in the aftermath, but not for the initial call into action, all while still using his intern'y position in a law firm to help prove that his dad (Ron Livingstone) has been wrongly imprisoned for the murder of his mother (Maribel Verdú).
While testing out the limits of his powers, Barry discovers he is capable of travelling faster than the speed of light, effectively going back in time. Against Batman's advice, he does travel into the past to stop his mother's death, but gets deposited in a timeline with a slightly younger version of himself, one who has not got his super-speed powers yet.
It turns out that Barry hasn't just gone back in time, but landed in a completely different timeline, complete with a different Batman (Michael Keaton), no sign of Superman, Wonder Woman or Cyborg, but with the imminent arrival of General Zod (Michael Shannon), who still believes that the survival of Krypton has been hidden on Earth.
Much like Spider-Man: No Way Home, Everything Everywhere All At Once, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, and Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse, all of this multiverse stuff shouldn't be taken too seriously. Yes, the entire plot hinges on the viewer swallowing this movie's definition of what time travel and different realities mean and what causes them, but it also doesn't really matter, because it is a little more than a big backdrop to pin some of the most fun set-pieces of the year.
Seriously, this is like a dream come true for DC movie fans, and not just the recent Henry Cavill/Ben Affleck outings. For many, Keaton remains their favourite version of Batman, and the 71-year-old actor is clearly having a ball returning in the cape and cowl. Additionally, Shannon represented one of the best DC villains, as his performance as Zod was properly scary and threatening. Seeing these worlds collide is the stuff of fan-fiction, except Warner Bros. have devoted over $200 million to making it a reality.
There are plenty of other highlights, including Sasha Calle's fierce portrayal of Kara Zor-El (aka Supergirl), some great one-liners provided by Christina Hodson's (Bumblebee, Birds Of Prey) script, and some supremely well choreographed action scenes by Andy Muschietti (Mama, It).
On the other hand, Miller's second incarnation of Barry Allen is a supremely annoying character (yes, the movie knows he's annoying, but being aware of it doesn't nullify it), there are some oddly cheap looking moments of CGI (the baby shower comes to mind), and the DC references can some times cross the line into an expensive game of Spot The Easter Egg.
By the end, we're left with a hugely entertaining but somewhat messy summer blockbuster, that does just enough to set up future instalments, but not so much that it can't be ignored completely if DC decide to go in another direction.
The Flash arrives in Irish cinemas on Wednesday, 14 June.
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