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THE FLASH (2023) Review

Neil reviews the highly anticipated and much talked about THE FLASH. Warner Bros. Pictures presents the film in UK cinemas now.



The Flash (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Warner Bros. Pictures presents The Flash, directed by Andy Muschietti, in UK cinemas now.


Worlds collide in “The Flash” when Barry uses his superpowers to travel back in time in order to change the events of the past. But when his attempt to save his family inadvertently alters the future, Barry becomes trapped in a reality in which General Zod has returned, threatening annihilation, and there are no Super Heroes to turn to. That is, unless Barry can coax a very different Batman out of retirement and rescue an imprisoned Kryptonian… albeit not the one he’s looking for. Ultimately, to save the world that he is in and return to the future that he knows, Barry’s only hope is to race for his life. But will making the ultimate sacrifice be enough to reset the universe?


Here we are. The moment has finally arrived that The Flash is in UK cinemas today. For a while this felt like a film which was doomed never to make it to the screen. Through changes in writer. Changes in director. Changes at the studio. It seemed that the odds were always stacked against Barry Allen ever making his way to the big screen in a film of his very own.

But now, under the incredible direction of the It franchises’ Andy Muschietti, we finally have Barry (Ezra Miller), Iris (Kiersy Clemons) and a series of Batmen on the big screen in an adventure which loosely translates the fabled Flashpoint comic book. Whilst its adoption really is loose, using the Flashpoint elements certainly creates a visually stimulating and potentially crowd-pleasing experience.

I’m not going to linger on the controversies surrounding Miller’s behaviour. Quite frankly there’s enough of this already in the world. The Flash is the product of thousands of creative minds working together to create one of the most ambitious movies ever to come from DC. Whilst some will struggle to see past the headlines, others will enjoy the film for what it is.

80% of The Flash rests of Miller’s shoulders as they pull double duty playing the prime and ’89 universe versions of Barry. One we know from prior film’s such as Zack Snyder’s Justice League. The other is an 18 year-old, arrogant and downright annoying version who has yet to experience any of the hardship of his counterpart. Miller inhabits both with very different energies. Prime-Barry is wracked with grief for both his mother (Maribel Verdú), murdered when he was a child, and his father (Ron Livingston) who remains imprisoned for her murder. His reckless decision to travel back in time and save his mother creates a timey-wimey issues which means there’s now two of him and together they have a few serious problems to resolve.

Flash‘s script, written by Birds of Prey scribe Christina Hodson, is one of the most balanced in the main DCEU continuity. Whilst we know this universe is dying out and soon to be replaced by James Gunn’s DCU, Hudson proves there is still some hefty mileage in these versions of the characters. Paired with Muschietti’s quite frankly exquisite execution of the action sequences and we get what is simply the best, most comic book accurate version of the Snyder-casted Justice League characters.

It’s neither MCU nor dour-DCEU clone. The Flash straddles its deep emotional core with some real laugh-out-loud comedy. A sequence early in the film sees Flash, under the tutelage of Jeremy Irons’ Alfred, rescuing a ward full babies from plummeting to the street below is sure to cause controversy. But watching amongst a packed audience raises the kind of astonished laughter the script calls for. Miller’s own comedic timing is perfectly suited to bringing like to both versions of the character.

Counterbalancing that humour are some breathtaking moments of grief and pain. The emotional crux of The Flash, its very own fulcrum point in time, is the death of Nora. It’s a moment witness in flashback early in the film. A moment which is played pitch perfect by both Verdú and Livingston. Verdú is every bit the doting, loving mother and in just a handful of small moments her death becomes heartbreaking. Circling back to that in the dying moments of the final act, Verdú becomes The Flash‘s MVP in a scene what has yet to leave me anything other than a blubbering mess.

Miller’s early portrayals of Barry Allen were criticised for straying too far from his comic book origins. Here Hodson’s script pushes the character neatly in the right direction by challenging him with another version of himself imbued with heightened versions of those early criticisms. Though having a double on set likely helped in bringing authenticity to their performance, Miller seems entirely capable of playing against themselves with a level of commitment which seems beyond requirement for a comic book movie. It may be both their first and last solo movie in the role. But despite events outside of the bubble, Miller should be proud of their work here.

Of course it can’t be escaped that The Flash features a moment thirty years in the making. The return of the original theatrical Batman himself. Michael Keaton. There’s arguably a sense that any Batman could fit in to this narrative. Be it Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale or even a resurrected Adam West. In that respect it would be fair to level criticism of nostalgia-bating at the film. But if you’re reading this you’re likely a comic book fan and most likely a Keaton fan. Any one with an iota of comic book knowledge knows these versions of characters can appear and disappear at will. In that respect I high commend The Flash for choosing MY Batman as its Dark Knight.

To his credit, Keaton slots back in to the role as if no time has past. He’s clearly learned a lot about the Multiverse in the past 30 years which leaves the door open for some interesting storytelling on the intervening years. But what hasn’t changed at all is his gravitas in the role or his off-kilter brand of acting. His Bruce Wayne continues to speak with little regard for his subject matter. Whilst his Batman is still a force to be reckoned with. As a life-long fan of his Batman there’s so much enjoyment to be derived from seeing him dive cowl-first back in to action.

As is the case with most modern comic book movies, the third act becomes something of a slug-fest as various heroes do battle with various villains. There’s an exponential increase in the stakes as absolutely every decision becomes life-or-death. In those moments even the cast of The Flash swells, pitting two Barrys and Batman against Michael Shannon’s returning Zod with Supergirl (Sasha Calle) also now part of this rag-tag Justice League. For her part Calle is outstanding as the second big-screen incarnation of Kara Zor-El. Her appearance is rather more fleeting that the promotional materials may have you believe. But there’s not doubt in my mind that she’ll leave a lasting impression on cinema goers.

Calle throws herself in to the role with similar gusto to Gal Gadot taking on Wonder Woman for the first time. Unwaveringly capable of handling the big action scenes and yet still able to communicate, with very little dialogue, the grace and heart that Kara arrives with on Earth. In the original Flashpoint comic book this role went to the now mostly absent Superman. But lest we forget that The Flash was produced as a time when the DCEU was headed in a different, Gunn-free direction.

The Flash has some incredible set design. The recreation and expansion of Michael Keaton’s Batcave is awe inspiring. Fans of Keaton’s films will also get a kick out of going back to his Wayne Manor. Though everything isn’t quite the same, the production team has done a great job of recreating key details. Likewise, Glasgow does a great job of filling in for small parts of Central City whilst also doubling as Gotham. There’s a plausible, realistic aesthetic to all of the legendary DC cities that feature in the film. It only loses its way when heading to the VFX-laden desert first seen in Snyder’s Man of Steel.

Speaking of visual effects, The Flash is a game of two-halves. Whilst the Batplane looks imposing as it soars from Gotham to Russia to rescue Kara. Inside it one of two Barrys appears a rubbery creation lacking in all fine detail. Key sections of the film, such as a “Chronobowl” where Barry does most of his time travel, are heavily stylised and here the quality of the visual effects are meaningless. Likewise the huge set pieces all look, for the most part, great. But it seems the scale of the action came at a price. Pulling detail from smaller beats where it was really needed.

Capping off the production is the incredible score by Benjamin Wallfisch. The composer creates a new soundscape for the Scarlet Speedster before he travels to Earth-89. When he arrives a distinct Danny Elfman influence creeps in which is audible but never imitating. It subtly sets the two worlds apart whilst simultaneously evoking the aesthetic of the Tim Burton films. The characters involved obviously give Wallfisch the chance to play with some classic themes and in those moments The Flash soundtrack excels beyond belief. Tracks like the piano-driven “Run” cut right to the heart of the film and are memorable long after leaving the cinema.


The Flash is nothing short of thrilling, funny and deeply emotional. Don’t snooze on this film on the big screen as it deserves the most bombastic and exciting viewing possible.


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