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Film Review: While Fun and Engaging, “The Flash” Quickly Runs Aground

Written by: Adam Vaughn | June 14th, 2023

Film poster: “The Flash”

The Flash (Andy Muschietti, 2023) 2 out of 4 stars.

As the DC Comics universe gears up for major transformations by executive producer James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3), one last remnant of the current (and terribly flawed) cinematic universe makes its way to the screen during this summer’s blockbuster season. Director Andy Muschietti’s The Flash finally gives the fastest man alive his own feature film, with Ezra Miller (Justice League) escaping public controversy to star in the titular role. The film tackles much of the superhero’s iconic abilities to travel through space and time, leading to a multiverse full of chaos and featuring some exciting cameos from past DC heroes. Unfortunately, The Flash gets so caught up in its visuals that it only goes through the motions of displaying a less interesting story and middling character development.

The narrative follows Barry Allen (aka The Flash), having just discovered that he can transcend dimensions, contemplating the idea that he could, in theory, go back in time and save his mother (Maribel Verdú, Death’s Roulette) from death and his father (Ron Livingston, Tully) from being wrongfully accused of her murder (sadly we never learn in the film what causes his mother’s death). Against the advice of fellow hero Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck, Air), Barry sets forth to save his mother and thereby creates a terrible ripple throughout the dimensions, causing chain reactions that alter his current universe. In so doing, he accidentally bumps into … himself, from another dimension! The Flash must work to fix the timeline, even if it means sacrificing the chance to be with his parents.

l-r: Ezra Miller, Michael Keaton, and Ezra Miller in Warner Bros. Pictures’ THE FLASH, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Overall, I must say if it wasn’t for the nostalgic return of Michael Keaton (The Protégé) as Batman from “a different dimension,” The Flash would have little extra appeal. No doubt there is plenty for old-school fans to enjoy, but this doesn’t stop Muschietti’s film from working with a messy script, filled with loose plot points and nonsense sequences. Along with the fact that various roles—such as Sasha Calle (Lola Rosales on the soap opera The Young and the Restless) playing an edgy and intense version of Supergirl, and Michael Shannon (Abandoned), returning as General Zod—are thrown to the side and only half-heartedly explored, the film not only bounces between dimensions, but bounces too carelessly between plot points to cover its bases.

Another awkward experience with The Flash is that its greatest selling point—an action film with stunning VFX—actually becomes one of its weakest elements. True, there is a beautiful splash of cameos towards the end of the film (no spoilers here as to who), but the overall visual effects of the film are thrown together, and lack any sense of believability. For a film destined to never hit cinematic or narrative achievements, it is unfortunately strange that The Flash also tends to fail at the superhero genre’s often strongest suit: to wow the audience with spectacle.

l-r: Ezra Miller, Sasha Calle, and Ezra Miller in Warner Bros. Pictures’ THE FLASH, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Failing little by little at every aspect of cinema, The Flash nevertheless still holds the basic genre conventions, combining action, comedy, and tenderness to deliver adequate beginning-to-end plot. That, combined with the enjoyable cameos, will surely make this film a decent sendoff to the current wave of DC Comics films, and in some ways gets the viewer ready for what’s to come under Gunn’s new producer role. As a standalone achievement, however, The Flash is an imperfect balance of things we have seen before alongside things we really have no interest in seeing again.


Adam Vaughn is a graduate of the Film & Moving Image program at Stevenson University, with a focus in Cinematography and Production. He also has a minor in Theater and Media Performance. Adam works as a freelance photographer and videographer, focusing his craft on creating compelling photographic and cinematic imagery. Adam is excited to join the Film Festival Today team and explore the world of cinema and visual arts.

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