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Review: Forever delayed, 'The Flash' arrives with mixed results

ZRA MILLER as The Flash in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “THE FLASH,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Comics)
ZRA MILLER as The Flash in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “THE FLASH,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Comics)
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The Flash
3 out of 5 Stars
Andy Muschietti
Writers: Christina Hodson, Joby Harold
Starring: Ezra Miller. Ben Affleck, Michael Keaton
Genre: Action, Adventure
Rated: PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, some strong language and partial nudity

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) – Studio Synopsis: "The Flash" is a film with epic action, surprising humor and heart featuring the wish fulfilling story of a superhero that can bend time – and change the past. Reuniting iconic amd beloved DC characters across timelines, this is a film unlike any superhero film before it – a cinematic spectacle that elevates the genre through the unique lens of Andy Muschietti.

Review: Not long ago, "The Flash" was going to put the DC Cinematic Universe on course. Whatever missteps had been made, "The Flash" was going to set it right. Now? Well, it feels inconsequential, at least in the big picture.

Let’s try to look past that.

Frequently promised, seemingly forever delayed, “The Flash” comes to theaters almost exactly 34 years after the release of Tim Burton’s “Batman" and 31 years since its sequel, “Batman Returns.” This is significant only because the film sees Michael Keaton return as Batman. In fact, due to the off-screen troubles of Ezra Miller, “The Flash” has been marketed more as Keaton’s film. In that regard, the film doesn’t quite deliver. Yes, Keaton’s Batman plays a major role, but he feels underutilized. There’s a compelling Batman story somewhere in there, but this movie was never supposed to be a Batman film anyway.

So, what is it?

The simple answer is that it is a Flash film that sees the Barry Allen version of the character travel back in time to stop his mother’s murder. He succeeds, but things go terribly wrong. His efforts essentially destabilize the universe. To make matters worse, Barry fails to make it back to his timeline. He’s stuck in a familiar past where the being who could save Earth from its destruction no longer exists.

Prior to its release, James Gunn was quoted as saying that “The Flash” was one of the best superhero films that he’s ever seen. I don’t completely agree with him, but I can see where he is coming from. “The Flash” is packed with the sort of Easter Eggs that will overjoy the hardcore fans, but it doesn’t incorporate those details in the seamless way that the Spider-Verse films have. There are moments that won’t make any sense to those who aren’t aware of the television and film history of Batman and Superman. It doesn’t derail the narrative, but it won’t go unnoticed.

That said, as a Flash film, it works fairly well. The spectacle often overshadows the emotional core of the movie, but there is a heartfelt narrative beneath the overwhelming amount of CGI. There are some lovely moments between Barry and his mother (Maribel Verdu) and the Supergirl (Sasha Calle) subplot, which involves the return of a particular legacy character, offers an interesting twist that is particularly unnerving. Suddenly Zack Snyder's interpretation of the Knightmare scenario doesn't seem so bleak.

The Flash doesn’t offer answers or a glimpse into the future of the DC Extended Universe – I don’t know if it ever was intended to. It’s more like an elaborate version of an episode of “Marvel’s What If?” It gives audiences a sense of what might have been.

It entertains, but I wish it felt more binding.

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