Worlds collide in “The Flash” when Barry uses his superpowers to travel back in time in order to change the events of the past. But when his attempt to save his family inadvertently alters the future, Barry becomes trapped in a reality in which General Zod has returned, threatening annihilation, and there are no Super Heroes to turn to. That is unless Barry can coax a very different Batman out of retirement and rescue an imprisoned Kryptonian… albeit not the one he’s looking for. Ultimately, to save the world that he is in and return to the future that he knows, Barry’s only hope is to race for his life. But will making the ultimate sacrifice be enough to reset the universe?
I went in with very low expectations even though the Batman of my childhood was going to be headlining this movie. I’m not quite sure why my expectations were so low, but it may have been because of all of the controversy surrounding the movie. I was pleasantly surprised and even impressed with how much they wrote into the script to say what many people have been thinking about lead actor Ezra Miller.
With that being said, I enjoyed the movie for what it was offering – a good time at the movies – without needing to know every single piece of canon in The Flash history, and even more, not really knowing the full ins and outs of The Flashpoint Paradox. Now, my children and husband know exactly what the paradox entails and I’ve always been in the room scrolling through email whenever they play the animated movies in the background. So, know that someone with a loose knowledge of the storyline is giving their review here.
Also please note that when I refer to Ezra the person, I will be using they/them pronouns, but Barry Allen will be referred to as he.
The movie opens with Allen being late for work – per usual – and hungry. Hilarity ensues when it’s shown that the regular coffee shop employee has taken off of work – this is an issue because she has his meal ready for him – and in her place is a super slow sandwich maker who unloads his frustrations while making the specialty sandwich that fuels Barry through the morning.
What’s a day without action though? Alfred calls Barry in for some light Justice League work that involves babies, a nurse, acid, a therapy dog, a conveniently placed microwave and gurney, and one stop at a vending machine.
I will admit that Miller has the mannerisms of someone with insatiable hunger down pat, but it doesn’t match with comic book Allen who is more a jokester than not. This Allen is serious and fully intent on clearing his father, Henry’s, name in connection with the murder of his mother. He has an important hearing coming up that would allow for an appeal contingent on new evidence that has come to life.
Unfortunately, that evidence doesn’t bode well for Henry, and in a fit of frustration, Barry takes off running and discovers accidentally that he can turn back time. If he can turn back time, he can go and save his mother AND his father and just come on back home in time for dinner.
Barry shares this information with Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) and Bruce rightly tells him that playing around with time is a dangerous path to go down. There’s a great quote in there somewhere, but it’s along the lines of this version of Barry not being the wrong version because there’s nothing wrong with him.
Does Barry listen though? Of course not. A conversation with Iris West plants a seed and off he goes to change his world for the better.
With a change of tomatoes, a timeline is changed and on his way back home Barry is knocked out of the Chronobowl – you’ll understand when you watch the movie – by an unknown assailant, creating a very precarious situation. The day that he receives his powers and all superhero hades breaks loose. We do get to see, and rightly feel empathy for, Barry when he is brought face to face with an older version of his mother. The interactions are poignant – even with the one tear action that Miller seemed to nail over and over and over again.
We have some issues with the multiverse, past Barry is exactly what present Barry hates about himself, but they find a way to get along after past Barry is given his superspeed and needs to help present Barry get back home. Throw in some very well-placed jokes about what could have been back in the day, and they’re off to save the world.
Now, the story gets a bit weird because there isn’t a main villain unless you apply villain attributes to the person stupid enough to attempt to change the past. These are Batman’s words, not mine. One of the stories’ villains has come to find a Kryptonian and we’re given flashbacks to the events from Man of Steel and what happened from Barry’s point of view.
Speaking of Batman, Michael Keaton returns to don the bat suit and fight side by side with past Barry Allen, present Barry Allen, and Supergirl – Kara Zor-El, played by Sasha Calle. There’s a callback to some classic lines in the movie that cemented Michael Keaton as an excellent caped-crusader (if you disagree, please keep it to yourself, this is my review) and the general joy of many of the audience members confirmed that was a smart move on the part of the director, Andy Muschietti.
This final act is probably the best with action and serves to show that one well-intentioned action can wreak havoc down the line. The well-known butterfly effect that Bruce Wayne warns Barry of before he goes back in time to attempt to save both his mother and father. We see that sometimes problems have no solutions, and that’s okay.
What this movie does well is pay attention to details that have happened in the past and make them relevant. Keaton as the caped crusader, a very funny Back to the Future conversation, and use of the desire that many of us have had to go back in time and fix things.
What the movie doesn’t quite nail is the CG. This issue starts at the beginning of the movie and flows right through to the climax. The conversation has also gotten less appropriate for kids, and the subject matter takes into account all of the lives that are affected by superhero fights. My almost teen twins did well in the theater, but I urge folks to just use common sense.
All in all, Barry makes it back home safely and has a surprise waiting for him when he gets there. Remember to stay for the end credit scene too.
The Flash opens in theaters everywhere on June 16.