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The Flash

The Flash

Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, some strong language and partial nudity.
Director: Andy Muschietti
Starring: Ezra Miller, Michael Keaton, Ben Affleck, Sasha Calle, Michael Shannon, Ron Livingston, Antje Traue, Kiersey Clemons
Running Time: 2 hours, 24 minutes
Theatrical Release Date: June 16, 2023
4K UHD Release Date: August 29, 2023 (


Plot Summary

Barry Allen uses his super speed to change the past, but his attempt to save his family creates a world without super heroes, forcing him to race for his life in order to save the future. (from

Film Review

Oh, the mess that WB has made out of their DC cinematic universe. Knowing that their whole decade-long, established superhero movie universe is currently in the process of being rebooted from scratch, it makes a movie like The Flash seem superfluous. But I suppose when a studio previously put so many eggs (and over $200 million) into one theatrical basket, you kind of have to see things through. Oh, and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the frequent trouble that titular star Ezra Miller has found himself in in recent months -- to the point where it definitely had an impact on the box office performance of this movie. There's so much stacked against The Flash before it even hits the silver screen that one has to wonder what kind of chance it actually has.

Many have already asked, so... how exactly bad IS The Flash? As one can imagine, The Flash feels like the Frankenstein's monster that the movie has rumored to have become. I skipped seeing this one in the theaters because, for one, I couldn't bring myself to support a movie financially that features Ezra Miller in such a prominent role, and I just also think he's a terrible choice to play The Flash. (And seriously, what's the deal with how he swings his arms while he runs? So weird.) Grant Gustin was such a great version of the character on TV, and then we have this ultra goofy, ultra awkward version that Miller plays. It just doesn't work for me. Add in the multiple counts of domestic violence that Miller has been involved in, and who would want to fork over money to see this guy perform in a film? (I figured I'd just wait till we get our review copy to finally see just what kind of hot mess this movie is.)

The Flash opens with Barry Allen sporting a new (and much better, let's make that crystal clear here) suit and working with Batman and Alfred to help people in need. This devolves into what is easily the most cringy scene in the entire movie, where The Flash is trying to find food to "fuel up" just as an entire hospital ward full of babies crashes through a collapsing hospital building and they plummet towards certain death. That's a little silly of a concept alone, but to make everything so much worse, each baby -- every single baby -- is also a millisecond away from colliding with an obstacle that will either disfigure them in some way or kill them before they hit the ground (be it acid, flames, broken glass, etc). Just as you think Barry is reaching to save them, he breaks into a falling vending machine, stuffs his face wtih junk food to elevate his energy, and then saves the infants by throwing a bed pan to knock debris out of the way, or hide a baby in a microwave to shield it from fire. (You read that right. I realize it's not an active microwave, but there was something about that visual that made my fatherly instincts uncomfortable.) Folks, it's such a terrible sequence that I wouldn't fault anyone for turning off the movie or walking out of the theater at this point. To make matters worse, while this is happening, we get moments from Ben Affleck's Batman chasing a Hummer filled with bad guys through the streets of Gotham, and everything involving Batman is so much more interesting and entertaining. I'm sure I'm not the only viewer who felt like he'd rather be watching that kind of movie instead one about Miller's Barry Allen.

It was almost instantly jarring when the movie suddenly follows Allen to his job in a crime lab, where even no one there likes him. If you're trying to endear us to the movie's central hero, you're off to a terrible start. If our hero is kind of a loser, he should be a lovable loser... not an annoying one. Miller also plays Barry super goofy and spastic most of the time, which doesn't help. But then, all of a sudden, something strange happens, and Barry is given a serious moment that almost makes things fall into place. Usually this involves his parents in some way, but it's in these moments that I realize, when Miller plays the character seriously, it kind of works. And then we get another scene, like the one where he's enthusiastically trying to explain how he discovered time travel to Affleck's no-nonsense Bruce Wayne, and your suspicions that Ezra Miller was sorely miscast as The Flash couldn't feel more true. Not only does director Andy Muschietti have trouble finding the movie's tone, but Miller just isn't a strong enough lead to carry an entire movie. This probably became apparent to the production team at some point, too, because even the movie's posters and promotional items spotlight the fact that Michael Keaton returns to his iconic Batman role and Sasha Calle makes her debut as the cinematic version of Supergirl. It's as if they realized, "Hey, we know you could care less about The Flash, or you've become wise to how much of a creep Ezra Miller appears to be, so... come see the movie for Batman and Supergirl! We even brought back Michael Keaton!" Then again, if they know Miller's Flash can't carry the movie on his own, why on Earth would you have most of the movie involve TWO of him? After Barry tries to change history to save his parents, he runs into a younger version of himself - also played by Ezra - and the two end up sharing the screen with each other for most of the movie. What's worse than having Ezra Miller as your movie's lead? Two of him.

As The Flash progresses, it does get better. Bringing Keaton's Batman back is certainly an exciting gift for fans of the original movies (although, having him back in a better movie would have been better for sure). And when Kara, AKA Supergirl, joins the fight, she makes a surprisingly good addition. From the previews, I wasn't feeling Sasha Calle's brooding machismo or performance at all (I mean, she seems more masculine than Miller's Flash), but I did feel she worked way better within the context of the movie. She could have lightened up a bit and had more charm, but she definitely added to the fight sequences. It was also cool to see Keaton's Batman get some fighting scenes in, too. The finale makes room for a wealth of cameos -- almost overwhelmingly so -- that serves as a love letter to the DC films and TV shows of the past six decades and beyond. It almost makes the movie serve as a proper bookend for the current DCEU -- even though the new Aquaman sequel is still on its way. There's also an unexplained cameo that closes out the movie that is a big surprise to anyone who hasn't had it spoiled for them. I might not make a lot of sense, but I have to admit it's fun, especially given everything that preceded it.

Just when I thought The Flash was overall a waste of a movie, Andy Muschietti and company surprised me with a really nice emotional moment (or two?) near the end of the movie. I have to give props to the movie for finally finding its emotional center and exploiting it well, but it also begs the question, is it too little too late? I'm not sure this movie deserves the emotions it evokes at the end, but the fact remains that it still has them. If Muschietti could have kept things grounded for the majority of the film, he may have been able to pull it all together. But, instead, The Flash meanders aimlessly, as if it's blindfolded as it tries to zip through its cinematic journey.

One fun side note I want to mention (just for fun, really) is that, when Barry encounters his younger self in an alternate timeline, we see movie posters hanging in young Barry's bedroom. Several of these posters include Pacific Rim, I Am Legend, and, most curiously, Inception. If you know this particular Warner Bros. movie (what? Does Barry only love Warner Bros. movies?), you'll know that it was directed by Christopher Nolan, who also directed The Dark Knight trilogy. So one has to wonder... does this world, which contains Michael Keaton's Batman, have Nolan's Dark Knight movies in its universe? Hmmmm!

Fun aside, the content for The Flash borders on a hard PG-13 at times. Barry uses the "F" word in the last scene of the movie, and is frequently heard using the "S" word for much of the latter two-thirds of the movie. There's also a scene where Barry takes off running through the streets of the city in regular street clothes, but they burn off of him. When he tears off his flaming threads, we see his side profile totally nude several times, and then his completely bare butt at a distance. For violent content, there's plent of this too, with some stabbings and impalings - which are mostly bloodless - but we do see a bullet move through a character's knee in slow motion, characters getting electrocuted in slow motion, characters sustaining burns, one losing a tooth in slow motion, some bloody facial cuts, and the immediate bloody aftermath of Barry's mom's murder. Some of it is pretty heavy, so I'd take the rating warning into serious consideration.

I also have to mention the dodgy special effects in The Flash. For some scenes, the effects are just fine, but for the awful aforementioned "baby rescue" sequence and nearly every shot during the Flash multiverse "bubble," the effects look no better than The Rock did in The Mummy Returns... which released 22 years ago. For a $200 million movie that's meant to be a special effects spectacle, I'm at a loss for what their plan was here.

I have to admit that The Flash isn't nearly as bad as I expected it to be, or even as bad as I've heard it to be. However, it's nowhere near the praise I've heard for it as well. In a lot of ways, it continues to represent the inconsistent and floundering quality of Warner Bros.' DC movies throughout the years. While it has memorable moments and cameos, it also is an immensely flawed DC superhero entry. It's quite frustrating, too, since it represents yet another wasted opportunity for this franchise. Here's hoping, with James Gunn helming the relaunch of the DC comic cinematic world, The Flash will be seen as one of the last big speedbumps on the way to something much greater.

- John DiBiase (reviewed: 8/27/23)



4K UHD Review

The Flash arrives on 4K UHD disc in a case that only contains the movie on disc with its special features, and a digital copy code to get the movie in 4K UHD through Movies Anywhere. The movie itself, in 4K is actually gorgeous. I was super impressed with the clarity and color vibrancy. I've seen some recent 4K's where the picture is a little blown-out (The Meg comes to mind) or just not that impressive visually, but The Flash comes out looking great.

- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 8/27/23)



4K UHD Special Features

“The Flash” 4K UHD contains the following special features:

  • “The Flash: Escape the Midnight Circus” podcast – Six-part original scripted audio series featuring Max Greenfield as The Flash
  • The Flash: Escape the Midnight Circus Behind the Scenes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Saving Supergirl - featurette
  • The Bat Chase - featurette
  • Battling Zod - featurette
  • Fighting Dark Flash - featurette
  • The Flash: The Saga of the Scarlett Speedster - featurette
  • Making the Flash: Worlds Collide - featurette
  • Let’s Get Nuts: Batman Returns, Again - featurette
  • Supergirl: Last Daughter of Krypton - featurette
  • Flashpoint: Introducing the Multiverse - featurette



Parental Guide: Content Summary

. Sex/Nudity: While only able to tell the truth, Barry says "I know sex exists, I’ve just never experienced it.” Afterwards, he tries to recover from it by making excuses; We see Barry’s bare butt after his clothes burn off, as well as the side of his bare butt. We then see this again a little later; Patty wakes up in bed with her boyfriend in Young Barry's apartment. She's wearing a lacey top; We see Young Barry's roommate Gary in just his briefs. At one point, he spreads his legs to show a tattoo on his calf; A reference is made to Top Gun having a bunch of gay guys in it; We see Kara's bare back through a prison gown (she looks emaciated and bony).
. Vulgarity/Language: 1 "F" word, 15 "S" words, 1 "J-sus," 1 "*ssh*le," 1 "h*ll," 4 "d*ck," 7 "Oh my G-d," 1 "Oh G-d," 1 "G-d," 1 "Sweet G-d," 1 "cr*p," 1 "sucks"
. Alcohol/Drugs: Iris asks Barry for a beer and he gets some for both of them and accidentally spills some on himself (but neither of them drink any); Barry steals a shot from a waitress's tray and drinks it; We see Patty drinking; We see empty bottles and such around Bruce's mansion; Bruce chugs wine before throwing it at Barry and hitting him in the face with the bottle; Bruce pours alcohol for himself; In the post-credits scene, we see Aquaman acting very drunk and he falls over.
. Blood/Gore: We see Barry's mother with a knife in her abdomen as she sits on the kitchen floor. She has blood all over her clothes; When both Barry's are hit by lightning, a tooth flies out of Barry’s mouth and goes into the other's mouth. We see a burn mark on Young Barry's back that then quickly heals up. Barry glues the tooth back into his mouth; Barry has blood on his face after Bruce hits him in the face with a bottle; Barry throws up a lot on the ground after being moved out of the way of bullets; We see a bullet going through Barry’s knee in slow motion (with some blood); We see lots of blood on the floor as Bruce tries to sew up a wound on his arm (we see the wound and some string hanging from it as he works on his arm in the mirror); We see blood and bulging veins in Barry's skin; Barry has burn marks on his skin that we see suddenly heal; Barry's face is cut with a blade and we see a bloody slice on his cheek for several scenes following; Batman has blood all over his mouth; A character is impaled and we see blood on their mouth.
. Violence: The ground collapses in the street and Flash saves an ambulance driver from falling into the sinkhole; Meanwhile, Batman rams a motorcycle through several cars as he chases a vehicle through the busy streets; A thug shoots at the Batcyle and Batman shoots back; A cop car flips many times slowly and crashes to the ground; There's a long sequence where a building collapses and Flash rescues a bunch of falling babies. Each one is also endangered by objects around them, like knives, a flaming gas tank, a bottle of acid, glass, etc; A tanker's tire is shot out and the truck flips over. A thug shoots it so it explodes and Batman flies thru it; Batman jumps onto a Hummer and fights the thugs inside; Batman throws a Batarang at a thug running away, hitting him and knocking him down; We see Barry's mother with a knife in her abdomen as she sits on the kitchen floor. She has blood all over her clothes; At one point, Barry runs so fast that his fingers get distorted and his mouth distorts in a creepy way; Barry grabs Younger Barry and tries to stop him from coming inside the house; Both Barry’s are hit by lightning in slow motion with glass breaking and chemicals flying. A tooth flies out of Barry’s mouth and goes into the other's mouth. We see a burn mark on Young Barry's back that then quickly heals up. Barry glues the tooth back into his mouth; Both Barry’s slam into a wall while trying to phase through it; We see some scenes of terraforming from Zod's machine. In these moments, objects and people on the street are thrown up into the air and then slammed back down. Barry saves a little boy but is unable to save his father. We don't see the man's death, but he is thrown to the ground during this; Barry throws up a lot on the ground after being moved out of the way of bullets; Batman deflects many bullets and beats up bad guys; We see a bullet going through Barry’s knee in slow motion (with some blood); Batman uses a bomb to blows a lift up a shaft to the roof; Soldiers shoot at Kara who punches through all of them and kicks some, saving Batman from getting shot in the face; We see lots of blood on the floor as Bruce tries to sew up a wound on his arm (we see the wound and some string hanging from it as he works on his arm in the mirror); Kara destroys a gargoyle with her super breath; Zod slices a soldier in the face (we don’t see any details); Zod’s ship and human soldiers fire on each other; Barry is electrocuted and hit with chemicals. Kara carries him to the sky where he is hit by lightning; Kara punches through a missile; The heroes battle against Zod and the other Kryptonians, causing lots of destruction; Barry's face is cut with a blade and we see a bloody slice on his cheek for several scenes following; Kara blasts Zod with laser vision; The Batwing ropes and crashes two Kryptonian ships together; The Barry's team up against the Kryptonians and they cause several to rise into the air in slow motion. They proceed to punch and hit them as they're suspended; Kara beats Zod with a missile; A man impales a woman. The victim is then impaled with a device; A ship crashes into another ship; A character ejects from a ship and it explodes; Kara and Zod fight; Batman attaches a bomb to a Kryptonian alien's head and it goes off, but the alien just shakes it off; We see a character stabbed over and over; A character is impaled with debris and we see them with it lodged in their body for the rest of their scenes; Two characters team up to fight another character; We see Superman fighting a gigantic spider on another world; A character is impaled and killed.


Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.

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