When it comes to famous superheroes, I’d say that the Flash is definitely up there, even if a lot of people don’t know anything about him beyond the fact that he runs really fast. It is therefore kind of surprising that the Scarlet Speedster hasn’t had a movie of his own before now, and it is very unfortunate that when it finally did arrive it had to do so with as much baggage as it does.
But despite the numbered days of its parent franchise (DC plans on rebooting their shared movie universe in 2025) and its star that should probably should have gone to prison once or twice, The Flash is still much better than I was expecting, dodgy CGI, sloppy cameos, and messy third act aside.
As a fan of the character, Ezra Miller’s casting as the Flash/Barry Allen has always been questionable to me, and that opinion has not changed.
The Barry of the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) might as well be called something else for all the similarity he has with his comic counterpart, but I guess that’s a niche complaint coming from a comic enthusiast, because the reality is that Ezra Miller pulls off a super solid performance here, annoying laugh, goofy-looking run, and criminal history aside.
The marketing may have leaned heavily into the return of Michael Keaton as Batman, but Barry is still very much the heart and focus of the story, a testament to Miller’s acting and comedic abilities as well as Christina Hodson’s enjoyable script.
And yes, it is just as fun to see Keaton’s Batman back in action after all of these years as you’d expect, and the addition of Sasha Calle as Supergirl is also quite welcome, even if the character is undercooked and mostly goes unexplored.
The Flash’s CGI, on the other hand, is very hard to look at. There were a couple of instances where I thought the horrid computer imagery had to be an odd intentional choice, but I think that was just me trying to justify the video game-looking nonsense I was beholden to for an entire third act that dragged on for far too long.
The story kind of falls apart by that point, and the film’s overall lesson of learning to let things go is undermined completely by a certain questionable choice at the end as the filmmakers try to have their cake and eat it too, but the solid emotional core of the movie makes me much more forgiving of these missteps than I would have been otherwise.
Equally as messy is the fanservicey cameos, which range from genuinely exciting to cringingly cheesy to hilariously contrived. Why would that particular character show up? Because people want to see that person in that costume, that’s why. No other reason is given or needed.
In short, The Flash may not be the best superhero movie of the year, or even the season, but if you’re looking for a good time at the movies this summer you can do much, much worse.
The Flash is in theaters now.