The Flash

Certificate: 12A

Starring: Ezra Miller, Michael Keaton, Sasha Calle, Ben Affleck

Release date: 2023

3 out of 5


Meet The Flash – the DC comic book hero whose biggest attribute is that he can run really fast. And, erm, that’s about it.

That’s one of the problems this big budget movie faces – how to make Barry Allen (the everyday persona of The Flash) interesting in comparison to better known (and loved) DC heroes such as Superman, Supergirl and Batman.

While on paper – and on screen – Barry (Miller) is pretty whiny and annoying, he does have a decent back story (his mother was killed by an unknown assailant and his dad is in prison for the crime but Barry thinks he is innocent) and it is that story that director Andy Muschietti uses to form a decent ‘what if you could change the past’ narrative for his red-suited, super speedy character.

We first meet Barry/The Flash as he’s saving a handful of people from a collapsing hospital building (featuring lots of CGI newborn babies flying out of a window that is, quite frankly, disturbing – partly because the computer graphics are freaky).

He discovers that if he goes even faster than usual he can move through time, so he pops back to before his mother was murdered in an attempt to change the past and – you guessed it – completely messes everything up and ends up in an alternate universe where there is another Barry. And while in Barry number one’s universe there is a working Batman (Ben Affleck), in this one Batman/Bruce Wayne is older, retired and (hurrah!) played by Michael Keaton.

Unfortunately this universe also has a General Zod (Michael Shannon) threatening the world, so both Barrys need to find Superman (with the help of Batman) to help stop him.

Effectively, this is like three movies in one – there’s an origin story, as when Barry time travels he pops back in time to the day he got his powers in a lab accident; a Batman movie that starts when the Barrys visit Bruce at Wayne Manor (and it’s the original location from Tim Burton’s movie starring Keaton for extra authenticity) and he joins in the action; and then a mad explosion of CGI for the finale as Barry keeps travelling back and forth in time, mainly to screw with our heads so we don’t notice the movie has run out of steam.

On the plus side, there are some major treats for fans of the DC universe – not just the return of two Bruce Waynes (Keaton and Affleck) but an end credits teaser featuring a third, plus a bonkers look at the multiverse that features versions of Superman (including Nicolas Cage popping up in the role fans dreamed of for decades), Supergirl and other DC legends.

It’s all pretty clever – even if some of the CGI (not just those babies but the whole finale sequence) is a bit ropey – but the biggest problem is Barry himself. While Miller is excellent playing two different versions of the same character, you can’t get away from the fact that The Flash is pretty annoying (and obstinate, and stupid), and having Michael Keaton return as Batman just highlights how much more interesting his Dark Knight character is than the superhero we’re supposed to be rooting for.

Fans of the DC universe should definitely give it a look, and it is a must-see for fans of Tim Burton’s Batman movies – but everyone watching will no doubt come to the conclusion at the end of two and a half hours of Barry-ness that they’d much rather see Michael Keaton reprise his Bruce Wayne for a new Batman movie than have to sit through a possible The Flash 2.

Is The Flash suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...

This is an action movie aimed at older kids and adults. There are lots of battle scenes and action sequences, and the movie does feature the death of more than one character, and scenes of blood and injury.

Younger children (under 11) may be upset by the depiction of the death of Barry’s mother, and may also find the scene involving the babies mentioned in the review upsetting.

At one point, Barry is subjected to electrocution- this may disturb younger viewers.

If you like this, why not try: