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Silver Screen Studies: ‘The Flash’ Review: Fast for Fast’s Sake


Lane Mills
Herald Staff

SYNOPSIS: Worlds collide when the Flash (Barry Allen) uses his superpowers to travel back in time to change the events of the past. However, when his attempt to save his family inadvertently alters the future, he becomes trapped in a reality in which General Zod has returned, threatening annihilation. With no other superheroes to turn to, the Flash looks to coax a very different Batman out of retirement and rescue an imprisoned Kryptonian — albeit not the one he’s looking for.

“The Flash” has easily one of the most interesting production stories in the history of large-scale moviemaking. It cycled through nearly a dozen directors, multiple scripts, and undoubtedly hundreds of ideas. First announced back in October 2014, the film was finally released nearly a decade later. In opposite fashion to its production, “The Flash” is a movie that hardly ever slows down, for better or worse.

From the opening scene, this movie feels very odd, though that isn’t necessarily a negative. There are points where the film does things or takes certain routes that are simply off-putting, but others where the weirdness leaves a tinge of refreshing surprise. The opening scene falls in with the latter. It isn’t 5 minutes in that we’re treated to a high-concept, fantastical slo-mo sequence that establishes the contagious high energy; without spoiling anything, the scene is ridiculous in all the best ways. From there on out, it really never stops.

Constant action outlines a chaotic first act, one that stops only once to set up an essential conflict, before firing back up and speeding off once again. This is where some people are going to tap out, but if you commit to the fast-paced feel of it all, you’d be likely to enjoy it. Regardless of your expectations, take “The Flash” for what it is: a loud, colorful, blistering blast through a world of superheroes that has almost always been dim. That way you’ll be pleasantly surprised when the emotional beats land, and further appreciate the sharp points of conflict and resolution.

The best thing about this film is the script, because it does all those aforementioned things with an honest purpose, and a dedication to director Andy Muschietti’s specific vision. True to the nature of its titular character, it’s constantly moving and ever-committed to keeping the audience entertained. The art of the popcorn movie, one that solely exists as a bolt of lightning to the chest, has been a bit lost on modern blockbuster filmmaking. Here though, it’s alive and well. This entire movie is a goofy, unashamed ride through comic book tendencies and traditions. Above all else, it’s proud of exactly what it is.

The main character writing is superb, too. Uniquely, “The Flash” essentially avoids having a main villain in favor of Barry’s journey through the multiverse. He spends the entire film fighting his mistakes, and is only able to correct them at the last moment, though he has to make sacrifices. The film has bittersweet beats on life and all that comes attached to it. Sometimes bad things happen, and when they do, you have to grow from them. The longer you put that process off, the harder things get. Even in a world of superheroes and all kinds of magic, some things are still permanent. This is all told beautifully through the lens of a mother-son relationship that is the beating heart of the movie. It may just move you to tears.

The side characters are where things start to suffer. Despite strong performances from all involved, having two Barry Allens at the core of the film basically outlaws any other character from getting a real chance to shine. The biggest shame here is Sasha Calle’s Supergirl, who is immediately a standout upon her introduction in the second act. But her story is only scarcely told by others as she struggles to come-to in the background. She definitely has her moments, but she could’ve fueled an entire movie on her own. Considering this may be all we ever see of her, it leaves a bitter taste behind.

The film also takes a hit in the long run as it has been tasked with completely resetting the DCEU (DC Extended Universe). In light of the failure of their recent efforts, DC is moving forward with a full cinematic reboot in 2025, almost completely throwing the last 12 years of their movies out of the window. The higher-ups took advantage of the Flash’s time travel abilities and had this movie, on top of everything else that it’s trying to do, serve as a conduit for their new rebooted time line.

What results is a feeling of inconsequentiality. It’s easy to get lost in the speed and sonic booms, but when it comes down to it, does any of this really matter? When looking at this film’s box office numbers, it seems more than likely that they’ll leave all of it behind. A fun film with a ton of potential can never really reach maximum speed. It’s a miracle that it exists, yet it stings that it isn’t as good as it could be.

“The Flash” is a perfectly fine experience. If you’re looking for pure fun, there is no better option in the cinema right now. It may occasionally surprise you with some weighty subjects and darker moments, but for the most part, you’ll be able to speed in and out of the theater without so much as a mark.

SCORE: 6/10

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