William Lee is a graduate of UC Irvine and Chapman with degrees in Film Studies and Screenwriting. He has held a life-long passion for all things geeky including comics, film, toys, and video games. He was previously a Senior Reviewer for over a decade with Movie Metropolis (formerly DVD Town). Will is a regular of the convention scene in Southern California and has been attending cons since 1993. You can also find him on Facebook as William D. Lee Photography

The Flash is known as the fastest man alive. Ironically, in his civilian guise of Barry Allen, he was always late for work or other engagements. That irony seems to have hit the long gestating feature film as it finally hits theaters after several delays. The production problems with The Flash existed long before the current controversy with lead actor Ezra Miller. Seth Grahame-Smith, Rick Famuyiwa, and the duo of John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein (who contributed to the script) were all attached to direct before dropping out. Andy Muschietti, hot off It: Chapters One and Two, took over the reins with Christina Hodson (Birds of Prey) rewriting the existing script.

The Scarlet Speedster’s first theatrical film was set to be based on the Flashpoint storyline in which Barry turns the timeline topsy-turvy in an effort to save his mother’s life. The Flash would have pressed the reset button on DC’s cinematic universe and washed away elements of the Snyderverse. However, a merger with Discovery and a major regime change placed James Gunn in charge of the DC Studios. With Gunn wanting to wipe the slate clean, this has left existing projects in a state of limbo. Both Shazam: Fury of the Gods and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom were originally scheduled for release after The Flash and took place in the new timeline. Perhaps, consumer confusion and mild superhero fatigue led to the box office failure of the otherwise fun Shazam sequel. Meanwhile, the second Aquaman has flip-flopped release dates like a fish out of water. So, if you’re wondering how The Flash fits into the bigger picture, you may walk away disappointed, but if you’re looking for a fun 2 hour plus romp, The Flash isn’t so bad.

Barry Allen (Miller) still struggles with the mysterious murder of his mother Nora (Maribel Verdu) and the arrest of his father Henry (Ron Livingston, previously played by Billy Crudup in Justice League). Using his super-speed, Barry travels back in time to alter events and save the life of his mother. As a result, he significantly changes past and future events. The Justice League no longer exists and Superman isn’t present to stop a Kryptonian invasion led by General Zod (Michael Shannon). Barry is forced to team with a younger version of himself, along with a grizzled Michael Keaton as Batman, returning to the role after three decades.

The Flash starts off with a bang as Batman (Ben Affleck) engages in a high-speed pursuit with crime scion Alberto Falcone (Luke Brandon Field), who has just stolen a biological weapon from a hospital. He’s triggered explosives and Barry runs to the rescue as he saves a bunch of babies as the building collapses. Everything freezes around the Flash as he moves at super speed in sequences similar to the Quicksilver scenes from X-Men. The Flash eschews practical effects for a wealth of CGI, some of which is impressive and other times trips into the uncanny valley. Obviously, you can’t throw babies out the window or expect a 70-year old Michael Keaton to grapple gun up the side of a building, but seeing actors reduced to digital facsimiles makes you wonder why WB didn’t fully animate the entire movie.

For a movie called The Flash, the titular hero is the least interesting character in the ensemble. Let’s face facts, most people are here to see Michael Keaton once again don the black body armor originally designed by Bob Ringwood. It’s a real treat to watch the ‘89 Batman leap into action as the iconic Danny Elfman theme blares over the action. The old Batmobile (best looking one) returns as well, along with the Batwing (plus requisite silhouette against the moon), which now features a gyroscopic cockpit ala Boba Fett’s Slave 1. Unfortunately, we may not see this iteration of Batman again as Batgirl was canceled in mid-production while a cameo in Aquaman 2 is in limbo. If this is Keaton’s last hurrah, he goes out with a bang.

Affleck also brings a gravelly gravitas to his Bruce Wayne, even if he gets less screen time than his predecessor. Newcomer Sasha Calle is perfectly fine as Supergirl, but the audience is never given a proper chance to invest in her character. Much like Zod, she’s just there. On the positive side, it would be fairly easy to fold this version of Kara Zor-El into a movie version of Tom King’s Woman of Tomorrow.

The Flash races towards a third act that collapses faster than the multiverse in the original Crisis on Infinite Earths. Yes, the multiverse is an integral part of the climax, but none of it feels truly earned. The grand finale is loaded with cameos that tug at the heartstrings in the most superficial way. This is pure fanservice meant to tickle the nostalgia bone. Much like the rest of the movie, it’s momentarily diverting, but ultimately unfulfilling.

Film Rating: 6

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