Stars: Ezra Miller, Sasha Calle, Michael Shannon, Ron Livingston, Maraibel Verchi, Kiersey Clemons, Antje Traue and Michael Keaton
Director: Andy Muschietti
Scriptwriters: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein and Joby Harold
Composer: Benjamin Wallfisch
Cinematography: Henry Braham
Warner Brothers Pictures
Rating: PG 13
Running Length: 144 Minutes
At this time of the year, two comic book characters are having a race at the box office. “Spiderman” and “The Flash.” Do you want to be caught in a cobweb or burned by someone speeding by. Either one is a winner, but I land on “Flash.” Ezra Miller is back as The Flash fighting General Zod (Michael Shannon. At 144 minutes, there is just enough to keep audiences interested as the story goes back and forth from The Flash’s youth to present day and back again. The word “multiverse” is used and that is a collection of many alternate realities and dimensions. Don’t get it confused with poetry verses. Time travel is now in vogue – no walking dead or space aliens here – and there is a familiarity to the “Back To the Future” films with Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. In this film, Ron Livingston is The Flash’s Dad and his mom is Maribel Verdu. Away we go.
Story line has Barry Allen (The Flash) with his mother dead and father in prison for her murder. What to do, and this involves going into the past and trying to undo what has been done, which is the death of his mother. Barry ends up being two people, his younger version and his present one (well played by Ezra Miller.) Unfortunately, Barry is stuck there (sound familiar?). Of all people to help him, there are two Batmen, the first Bruce Wayne, by Michael Keaton who is my favorite Batman. Jeremy Irons plays the aloof Alfred Pennyworth. Another Batman, and this version by Ben Affleck. Oh, yes, Superman’s cousin, Kara (Sasha Calle) and she has to be rescued and then joins in the fight. If you have never read a comic book and go to this film, it will either enrich your knowledge of comic book lore, or place you, perhaps uneasily, in another world, entirely. All of this travel through time does alter things and the people involved just have to live with that. It is a complex script so pay attention.
Now as for special effects, they are surprisingly not that well done. It seems a bit hastily put together, and you need a road map to follow the script at times. Director Andy Muschietti is an Argentina conductor known for “The Brave and the Bold.” Benjamin Wallfisch is known for “Blade Runner 2049.” Cinematographer Henry Braham has done “The Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 and Vol 3.” This is not a John Williams film score.
Then to the acting, and with much action and time travel, there is little time to emote. Ezra Miller is a fine “Flash” and carries the two “Flash’s” well. Michael Keaton does stand out as an aging Batman, called to fight yet another time. Keaton’s eyebrows were always expressive. Michael Shannon’s Zod is the typical villain, with his retinue and ready for battle. “Zod” seems like such a nonsense name, though, like Clunk or Clank, so perhaps being at the end of the alphabet is his fitting place. Or, when you think about it, Zod spelled backward is Doz(e) which is what some people may do as this is a longer than average film. However, there are humorous moments such as the sulkiness of Superman’s cousin, Kara, or the making of a flash costume.
All in all, “The Flash” comes in on a firm “3 out of 5” here. Hollywood seems to think that its audience likes comic book characters also on a movie screen. It does get tiresome, though, Do stay through the end credits to see what is now afoot.
Copyright 2023 Marie Asner