Despite his past personal issues which many felt should have precluded Ezra Miller from playing Barry Allen, aka The Flash, Miller is actually quite commanding as both the older Barry, and then a younger version of himself from a different timeline. Unfortunately, the screenplay for THE FLASH by Christina Hodson is bloated and severely overlong.
After many years of false starts with a laundry list of possible directors attached, in 2019 Andy Muschietti was chosen to helm this DC Comics film. With a story by John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein and Joby Harold influenced by the storyline of the comic book “Flashpoint”, THE FLASH has Barry Allen/The Flash traveling back in time to save his mother, Nora (Maribel Verdú), from being murdered.
This tragic event happened when Barry was a boy, and his father, Henry Allen (Ron Livingston), was wrongly convicted of her murder. On the eve of his new trial, Barry --- against the advice of his friend Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) --- “flashes” back in time to save Nora. What he doesn’t realize initially is he is now in an alternative reality, and he must contend with a college freshman version of himself.
All of this is entertaining enough, especially when the two Barrys enlist the help of a much older Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton), whom they find rambling around his dilapidated mansion. It doesn’t take them long to convince Bruce to resume his persona as Batman --- and once he does --- he’s all in --- “Let’s get nuts”.
The three amigos fly to Siberia to free Superman from a Russian prison, but instead they find Kara Zor-El aka Supergirl (Sasha Calle), Superman’s cousin. She was sent to protect him --- and alas, he might be out there still. The boys enlist Supergirl’s assistance in their fight against General Zod (Michael Shannon) --- and from there the film goes distinctly downhill. The big battle scene is neither thrilling nor particularly well-conceived --- and it’s unbearably lengthy.
Miller is much better in this role than expected. Some of his past performances have been exceptional, but considering his recent shenanigans, it is always possible he would have been too distracted to play the quirky Barry Allen. He exhibits “flashes” of brilliance, especially portraying the two Flashes --- one forgets he’s really playing both roles.
And Keaton is a welcome relief. His aged Bruce Wayne/Batman adds a certain gravitas to what these characters are trying to accomplish, though in the end, even his performance, and Miller’s, can’t save THE FLASH. It’s a shame --- truly --- as at times, Muschietti’s efforts seem only to function as a conduit for the many cameos stuffed into this movie.
No matter. Even though David couldn’t manage to stay awake, DC Comics fans will mostly love THE FLASH. It’s been a long time coming --- the wait is over --- let the sparks begin.
Opinion: WAIT FOR VOD
I know I’m echoing my writing partner by saying that THE FLASH is just too long. Other films of similar length have managed to entertain for their entire running time. In this case, 144 minutes is way over the top for what we get.
The set-up between Barry Allen/The Flash and his alternate universe version Barry Allen (both played by Ezra Miller) goes on much longer than necessary. The older Barry has traveled in time to save his mother, Nora (Maribel Verdú), from being murdered. He never considered he might meet his younger self in an alternate universe.
The biggest offender of occupying way too much screen time are the protracted battles with the evil General Zod (Michael Shannon). How many times can it look like he has been vanquished only to see him get up over and over? On the plus side, Sasha Calle is convincing as Supergirl/Kara Zor-El, Superman’s cousin. Speaking of Superman, a brief shot of George Reeves as TV’s original Man of Steel may go over the heads of younger viewers.
There are the inevitable appearances of additional superheroes, i.e., Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck as past Batmans, and several others that generated a huge audience reaction. My favorite surprise is the brief appearance by a real, live “Derry Girl”, Saoirse-Monica Jackson as Patty Spivot.
Opinion: WAIT FOR VOD