Adapting Flashpoint Paradox, one of the best of the DC animated films (and a bestselling comic series and then a bestselling graphic novel collection), into a live-action movie is one of those so-called "no-brainer" decisions that Hollywood likes: "proven" property attached to a proven work already vetted by an audience. And then everything goes horrible wrong.
Review: The Flash
I think The Flash will be re-evaluated sometime in the future and found to have better things in that it is generally being given credit for at present. Right now the film is getting trashed in many quarters (I'm not counting the mainstream entertainment press which knows which side the advertising and access toast is buttered on and could find a way to faintly praise a stale ham sandwich, if required) but across the secondary media of YouTube, Twitter, and other social media, lots of shots are being taken at the film and the usual glee (in some quarters) expressed at failure.
Yes, The Flash is flawed and it's got some awful CGI sections and if you don't like Ezra Miller's Barry Allen, then having two Ezra Miller Barry Allens will not do anything but compound your distaste.
But, in an era in which "multiverse" storylines are dominating superhero movies so much that the superhero movie genre is in danger of morphing into a Multiverse genre, The Flash may have killed that trend, an irony because the theme in the story derived from the Geoff Johns comic books is pretty simple and matches up with most "do over" timeline stories from out of past pop culture, which is that if you "logically" mess with the past you are rearranging the future in ways you can't control, and this is a very bad idea.
The Flash movie takes this to its logical extreme and presents a tragedy of human effort crashing into a kind of eternal limitation. It has been done before, for example in the movie Groundhog Day, the character played by Bill Murrey runs into the unchangeableness of eternity when he repeatedly tries to rescue a homeless man who ends up dead no matter how much Murrey's character tries to circumvent the inevitable. In the end Murrey's character concedes the only thing he can change is himself.
Likewise, Barry Allen in The Flash repeatedly runs laps around a CGI racetrack that is an arena where we the audience see the results of his efforts, and this is well after we've been given individual examples of the disaster he has been brewing up by using (or misusing) his "speed force" that makes all this future-tinkering possible. He, too, has to come to a realization that there's no way to actually reach his main goal, but stopping what's happening means stopping the other Barry Allens he has inadvertently unleashed.
Ezra Miller gives a performance that is part irritating but also cleverly mitigated by having one of the main Barry Allens becoming reserved, circumspect, and in a simple way, adult. This allows the two Ezra Millers to build toward an effective confrontation about what's been "lost" and what is at stake as the film moves towards its climax.
Nice things in the movie are not balanced by the lousy, though. There's a tape-and-glue feeling to parts of the story and in general how the whole thing hangs together. The way the film is released into theatres, its up to Ezra Miller and Michael Keaton to make the thing work, but Keaton isn't given enough room to do the job and Ezra Miller is given too much room. Well, it is titled The Flash and there's already been plenty of criticism saying it looked like we might be getting a Flash movie in which he's just a co-star and what we're meant to think we're really getting is a Batman movie, but that isn't true despite how the preview trailers hint at it.
If I could make excuses for the film it would be thus: I wonder if a lengthened The Flash in the manner of Justice League Snyder Cut might smooth out the tale and provide better storytelling. As it is, Zod appears and there's not much to it; Gal Gadot makes a little cameo but its of no value except as a chance to see Gal Gadot; the Affleck Batman and the end-of-film Batman are just tagged on as a wraparound for the main Keaton Batman, who, as already stated, isn't given enough space to save the movie and is reduced to gimmicks like repeating some lines from the Burton Batman films and to behave in a way that seems pretty un-Batman-like at times. If there's an explanation for all this, and if there's more footage someplace to make these side characters to have depth, well, that'd be nice. But it would assume some control over the material by a single "vision" and with so many directors having passed through the production, that's so unlikely. Not only that, but with new Warner/DC superhero movie head honcho James Gunn probably wanting to get as far away from these crashed projects as possible, there's probably no will to spend another dollar on this thing except to get it out on home video for whatever sales that might pick up.
Well, as it is, The Flash has its problems, but it has heart to it, too, and as far as a "multiverse" story goes, it shoots for the stars, and some of the time it hits the target in a unique way.
Thinking about The Flash movie
Pairing The Flash with the cancelled Batgirl movie (which supposedly cost $60 to $90 million dollars, depending upon who is talking about it, becoming for Warners a tax-write-off and an unrealized and unreleasable film) there's a sense that there was chaos in the Warners offices. With the disappointment of the crashing box office for their stable of characters beginning with Batman V Superman failing to reach a billion dollars, it just didn't get much better though there were surprises like Aquaman hitting over 1 billion and the first Suicide Squad making a clear profit despite getting completely slagged by critics.
But the main "tentpole" movies were supposed to make it to the magical upper $100 millions and $1 billion numbers, after all Nolan's last two Dark Knight movies both crossed into the billion-dollar club, and in fact Dark Knight Rises would have probably racked up significantly higher numbers if the beginning of the run had not included a guy dudded up like the Joker and even claiming to the police he was The Joker, shooting 82 people, killing 12, in a theater in Aurora, Colorado that was premiering the Nolan film.
Films flop for many reasons and they succeed for various reasons and only some of the reasons are about quality. The Flash is a much better film that it deserves to be since it is the patched-together remains of multiple directors, a stop and go production (it was actually reported to have been cancelled in May 2018) and filming went on long enough for actors to come and go, to age, with the film unintentionally becoming a container for Warners/DC to put all their hope (and anxiety, I suspect) into one final movie to come out of the "Snyderverse" era and to finally clean up at the theatres. It probably seemed simple at the time: The Flash has got three Batmen (visually more) in it, and Batman has been DC's cash-cow for quite awhile.
But, no matter how hard the hypnotist swings the shiny object back in forth in front of the audience, in the end they didn't make a Batman movie, they made an Ezra Miller Flash movie, and though it morphed into a Flash/Batman movie in the preview trailers, if we're going to look at the film and make up alternative titles, it could just as well be called Ezra Miller Times Two plus Flash and Some Batmen. And a little bit of Wonder Woman and Kara the Supergirl.
The problem is that as a brand name, Ezra Miller is now attached to a series of bizarre scandals and an ongoing legal process that probably killed a lot of the interest that would have otherwise equalled some box office. Besides that, there's the decline in superhero movie box office success across the board (recent releases Quantumania and Shazam II both failed to hit their needed numbers to break even, so The Flash certainly isn't the only film missing the mark with audiences).
The hype on The Flash was strong, with ads all over the internet, and it just didn't make a difference. It is as if decisions to not see the film had been finalized in many heads over the past years, and when the moment came to "pull the trigger" masses of people did so and stayed away "in droves".
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The Flash reaction - June 15, 2023
The Flash movie reviews are starting to appear, and they run the gamut from "very good" to "soulless, heartless, corporate garbage" (Twitter account Max Priestly).
‘The Flash’ is the most exciting DC superhero movie in years – Boston.com MSN
‘The Flash’ Director Got a “Confidence Boost” When Tom Cruise Called to Praise His Film – Hollywood Reporter MSN
"I have seen the Flash, was it the absolute triumph some critics make it out to be? No. Is it better than Black Adam, Shazam II or .. .Quantumania. Yeah. ....The Batmen are the best thing in it. It's just another multiverse movie and I'm over it. ... might be the most expensive movie ever made..." – You Tube Nerdrotic
DC Needs a Win – but 'The Flash' Faces a Fight at the Box Office – The Wrap MSN
Redeeming Ezra Miller – Arkansas Online
Review: Asteroid City
Original Page June 23, 2023 | Updated August 11, 2023