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The Flash (2023) Review

Updated: Jun 22, 2023

The treatment and translation of DC Comics into live-action media have faced concerns since the dawn of the DC Extended Universe, and despite the efforts of the DCEU to watch itself become a live-action comic book powerhouse, it continues to set itself back consistently. Its tumultuous, confusing, and contradicting history has been troubled by plenty of issues that span past the quality of Warner Bros.'s output. Concerns around executive orders, creative decisions, and the behaviors of talent that work on these projects have plagued the DCEU for some time, and even when attempting to reboot itself completely, the live-action DC Universe faces heavy skepticism from onlookers.

Despite the many crimes of Ezra Miller, Warner Bros. insisted upon keeping them as their lead actor in The Flash, which resulted in a great moral divide over how much support the feature film should really receive. Miller's controversies remain to loom over The Flash; their actions are entirely reprehensible and there should be consequences for them. It's hard to keep them out of mind when they're in nearly every scene in the film. The choice to keep Miller as Barry "The Flash" Allen is worrisome, but is not the only mistake that's made when executing The Flash altogether.

Due to how much Warner Bros. and filmmaker Andy Muschietti insisted that The Flash would be worth the wait, there were higher expectations for the blockbuster as a whole. Perhaps there were greater hopes for the storyline, which is more focused on cameos than it is being self-engaging. There are themes of grief and loss, but the struggles on screen don't have enough structure to be woven into a complete film. The central struggle feels redundant as if the screenwriting team didn't know how to move past a single plot point. If anything, Warner Bros could have saved themselves an immeasurable amount of money, turning their hours-long movie into a story arc on CW's The Flash. It was once teased that The Flash would follow the Flashpoint story arc, and in hindsight, it was a missed opportunity by the creative team. There are questionable choices made throughout the film, including one of the most off-putting, polarizing, and bizarre scenes in live-action modern comic book media. It's a moment that is so unexpected and jarring that it almost feels surreal. How it made it into the final cut, let alone the early drafts of the film, is a mystery.

The Flash looks to its cameo appearances -- and a much-welcomed return of Michael Keaton's Batman -- as highlights of the film. It's a shame that Warner Bros. and Muschietti were too quick to give away the movie's biggest reveals before audiences had an opportunity to experience them for themselves. It almost defeats the purpose of booking certain actors to turn up in "surprise" roles if the reveal has already been spoiled. Perhaps marketing The Flash with new Supergirl actress Sasha Calle and Keaton as public-facing talent was Warner Bros.'s damage control tactic, but there was no need for other cameo details to be shared elsewhere. Was the CGI budget blown on hiring guest actors? The lack of care or quality put into The Flash's digital effects is an incredible insult, despite Muschietti saying that they were "bad on purpose." Whether it was a stylistic choice or an effort to deflect criticism, the computer-generated elements of The Flash are inexcusably poor.

An ongoing conversation around comedy tropes used in comic book media has every right to be reignited here, as The Flash has the same sense of humor as a middle-school boy. The amount of immaturity that The Flash has justifies the discussion around "superhero fatigue," and whether or not the genre is burning itself out. There are authentic, interesting, and original comic book movies that deserve respect -- The Flash just isn't one of them. Even with the fan service, the film falls apart in the third act and limps off with a disappointing conclusion. The Flash ends at such an odd spot that the entire screenplay feels like it was rushed to be done, or that the screenwriting team was unsure of where the stopping point was. It keeps The Flash open-ended enough to invite the possibility of a sequel, but there really isn't a need for one.

The Flash is an unsatisfactory superhero flick with a fine soundtrack, but if the soundtrack is one of the most positive aspects of the movie, the entire thing may need to be reconsidered. 3/10.

*There is one end-credit scene.*

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