The Flash Review: A Disappointing Mess


The Flash is the DC Extended Universe’s (DCEU) latest film and sought to reset and begin James Gunn’s new DC Cinematic Universe. Being the last hurrah for a mostly disappointing and at best mediocre line of superhero films, how did The Flash decide to send off the decade-old cinematic universe that is the DCEU? In a visually disgusting, narratively incomprehensible, and disappointing way.

But before I get into the reasons why I didn’t like the film, I want to at least say the things I did enjoy. The action sequences, in general, were actually really good, the way they choreographed the fight scenes with Michael Keaton’s Batman and Sasha Calle’s Supergirl were really fun and the way they showed each character’s ingenuity with how they use their powers was done really well. The movie even gave Ben Affleck a really cool fight sequence at the start of the film as a sort of farewell gift, as The Flash will be his final appearance as the caped-crusader. Furthermore, the movie had (in my opinion) the best on-screen interpretation of what Superman represents (in the DCEU) with Sasha Calle’s Supergirl. In the previous films, Zack Snyder had this weird obsession with making Superman a bad guy, which ultimately undermined what the character of Superman represents and leading to Henry Cavil’s interpretation being one-dimensional. But in The Flash, Supergirl represented and embodied the idea of hope from the comics and Sasha Calle really manifested that in her performance, which was a joy to watch. The soundtrack was as well serviceable, especially the homages to Danny Elfman’s classic 1989 Batman theme of which was incredibly nostalgic to me as I grew up with the Lego Batman games.

Keen-eyed readers would have noticed that, in all my praise for the film, I did not mention any word of the Flash himself. He is the literal title character of the film, and it's simply because he was the worst part of the whole movie.

The character of Barry Allen truly regressed in this film, and I believe that it’s because the film fundamentally forgot to give Barry a reason to grow both as a human and as a superhero in the duration of the runtime. That is not to say that they didn’t try, they did. It was just that, the movie did not explore nor expand on those reasons enough that it made me care for these characters or root for them. It also had the bonus effect of confusion; when I was watching the film, I was doing mental gymnastics trying to link together all of these plot details, and I failed every single time. But the thing is, the plot isn’t confusing, it's actually very simple, but it just doesn’t make any sense. Characters will do and say certain things not because the characters themselves would do or say those certain things, but rather, because the plot needs them to do so, which makes the film incredibly predictable and feel artificial. And so, to supplement the lack of a cohesive narrative, the movie filled the runtime with needless comedy and action sequences to retain audience attention. The Flash feels more akin to a rollercoaster ride than a movie, and one might say, “It’s just a superhero film, of course, the writing is bad.” But we’ve been shown time and time again that superhero movies can be more than just rollercoaster rides, and that they can have heart, good writing whilst retaining fun action sequences. Which was what I had expected from The Flash and did not receive.

Furthermore, the elephant in the room is the CGI. The CGI is pretty good at some points but for the majority of the film, it looked horrible. Andy Muschietti (the director) defended the bad CGI by saying that it was an intentional artistic choice, and that it was supposed to mimic how Barry would see the world when he runs fast. Which is a load of bull. The awkward and uncanny CGI legitimately took me out of the film in so many instances, which contributed to how disconnected I felt in the movie theatre. Instead of being immersed in the world, of the character’s struggles and the themes, I was instead focused on the fact that Barry had placed a fake, uncanny-looking baby in a microwave. Though even with the bad CGI, I can’t disregard the fact that the film had pretty good cinematography. I think Andy Muschietti is really good at telling stories visually, the way he builds up certain character reveals, transitions and the aforementioned action sequences were the film's highlights.

Finally, most of the acting from Ezra Miller and the rest of the cast is painfully bad. This might be attributed to the fact that the dialogue in this film is written horrendously, because, trust me, you do not want to submit yourself to the two hours of literal AI-generated dialogue that I had to sit through. The writers fail to understand the subtleties and complexities of the English language and assume that the general audience has the intelligence of a goldfish, thus prompting them to be extremely explicit with every single dialogue that is uttered by the characters. The worst offender, in my opinion, was Kiersey Clemons. Her Iris West was incredibly stiff, and the delivery of her dialogue was immensely awkward, but to be fair, her co-star Ezra Miller, was not any better.

Overall, what disappointed me the most was knowing the potential of what this film could be. As I said, the film had all the building blocks to make it good. The fact that it isn’t good baffles me because if done right, The Flash could have ended the DCEU on a high note. Still, instead, it fails fundamentally as a movie and delivered the knockout punch to the failure that is the decade’s effort made by DC to enter the superhero film market. Hopefully, with James Gunn steering the ship for DC’s future projects, we will see a better interpretation of The Flash sooner or later.

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