Man running in red-armored suit with glowing yellow streaks emitting lightning.

The Flash (2023) Spoiler-Free Review

Unravel the scarlet speedster’s decade-long path to the big screen, filled with challenges and controversies. Discover Ezra Miller’s complex portrayal of Barry Allen alongside Michael Keaton’s vivacious Batman.

Behind the Scenes: The Flash’s Long Journey to the Big Screen

Most films take a few years to be produced after the pre-production phase. Depending on the scale of the project, it could take up to five years for a movie to make it to the big screen. For the scarlet speedster, it took a decade. The Flash production suffered many problems, undergoing multiple rewrites, swapping directors, reshoots, and continuity issues. Warner Bros. cast Ezra Miller as Barry Allen in 2014. Over time, Ezra became controversial due to their violent behavior and heinous accusations.

Ezra Miller’s Complex Portrayal of Barry Allen

First appearing in Justice League in 2017, Ezra’s interpretation of Barry Allen received mixed reactions—a socially awkward, introvert who spews techno-babble and behaves strangely around women. Barry’s superspeed made him a standout in the film’s third act. After years of teaming up with Ben Affleck’s Batman, who debuted in Batman vs. Superman, the character has gained more experience. In 2019, Andy Muschietti, the director of IT and IT: Chapter Two, became the last in a list of directors for The Flash—this choice worried some fans due to Muschietti’s horror background.

Box Office Performance and Audience Confusion

The Flash hit theatres on June 16, 2023, and made $55 million on opening weekend. With an estimated budget of $200,000,000, it performed poorly at the box office, failing to break even with a domestic gross of $107 million. However, the movie is very entertaining. Although, I’m not sure who the target audience is. There are a number of cameos from DC characters adapted in different mediums. This can confuse newcomers who aren’t diehard fans or those who haven’t seen previous entries from the DC universe.

A Multiverse Tale: Flashpoint

Like other comic book studios, The Flash is a multiverse story. A theme that is quickly wearing out its welcome. Although the plot device is not new in cinematic history, it has gained popularity with movies such as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and expanded on by the Disney Plus series Loki. DC is no stranger to using it, especially in its animated features and comic book arcs. This film is a live-action adaption of Flashpoint, where Barry travels to the past to prevent the death of his mother.

Dynamic Character Portrayals and Nostalgic Batman

Ezra did a stellar job portraying two versions of Barry Allen. The adult version of Barry is morally conflicted and hellbent on testing his new ability. In contrast, young Barry is annoying and immature. Michael Keaton joins them as Batman and Sasha Calle as Supergirl. Keaton’s Bruce Wayne differs from what viewers might remember from the early 90s. He’s a lot more eccentric but remains a broody recluse. The three make an awesome trio, with some having more screen time and character development than others. Keaton is the nostalgia bait for Generation X and Millennial fans of Tim Burton’s Batman from 1989.

Action-Packed and Visually Stunning

Viewers get more than nostalgia. This adaptation of the caped crusader fights is much like his counterpart from the Arkham games created by Rocksteady Studios and Warner Bros. Games. He zooms around easily, executing vengeance on bad guys in the most brutal fashion. The fight choreography delivers quite the punch, pun intended. Barry, who possesses superspeed, is not well-versed in combat, which creates contrasts among the heroes. The Flash is flawed in this regard, causing him to make mistakes, and second-guess himself.

Emotional Depth and Spectacular Visuals

One of the key ingredients to any successful story is making the audience care. Ezra delivers exceptional performance and justifies his goal to change the past. Most adults know grief’s impact, and the narrative is driven by Barry’s inability to get past his. Whenever he runs, it is a visual spectacle. The special effects make the scarlet speedster zoom through environments with dynamic force and relative ease.

Technical Shortcomings and Horror Elements

There are moments when the CG effects resemble that of a PlayStation 3. Human beings appear rubbery, like something out of a nightmare. A few more months in post-production could remedy this. Andy Muschietti’s mastery of horror elements is present throughout The Flash. From the anatomical punishment, characters suffer to suspenseful moments. He manages to infuse humor throughout the story seamlessly.

The Flash’s Pacing and Uncertain Future

Andy Muschietti said there is an extended cut of The Flash. If this is true, that would explain the pacing. Certain parts feel incomplete, making character choices illogical and some scenes rushed. For all its errors, The Flash is a solid movie. Ezra’s real-life controversy mired the film, affecting theatre attendance. With Warner Bros. Discovery rebooting its DC universe, one must question whether the scarlet speedster is included.

Unconfirmed Future and a Reminder of the Team’s Effort

New DC Studios co-chair, James Gunn, is starting from scratch and hasn’t confirmed Ezra’s place in his new vision. Watch it yourself and see if it’s worth a sequel. I understand not wanting to support Ezra, but I remember thousands of artists worked on the movie. If that doesn’t sit well with you, check out the animated film, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, also available to stream. The Flash is available to rent or purchase on all streaming platforms. After speaking to The Story Monster, the scarlet speedster earns an 8 out of 10.

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