The Flash

Plagued by off-camera drama brought about by the actions of a deeply troubled lead actor, The Flash never quite reaches critical velocity.
Ezra Miller, Michael Keaton
Andy Muschietti
Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Superhero
Release date
June 16, 2023
Overall Score
Rating Overview
Rating Summary
The Flash is a generally entertaining film, largely thanks to the inclusion, if not the portrayal, of Michael Keaton's Batman. However, suffering from pacing problems and inherent issues brought about by the film's primary plot device, in concert with the worst CGI since The Matrix Reloaded, The Flash is largely forgettable and something you could easily wait to stream to watch.

Making his first appearance in 1940’s The Flash no. 1., The Scarlet Speedster has been through many iterations and has been seen in a multitude of mediums. Yet, it has taken the better part of a century for the character to get his own film.

The Flash

After a conceptually interesting yet horribly rendered and otherwise irrelevant opening action sequence, we find out that Barry’s (aka The Flash) dad, who years before was wrongfully convicted of his wife’s/Barry’s mother’s murder, is up for “another parole hearing.” Normally, The Flash wouldn’t hold much hope for his father’s release; however, thanks to some fortunate Wayne tech, the key piece of evidence that could clear his name, a heretofore scrambled video from a grocery store’s surveillance system, has been repaired. Unfortunately for him and our titular character, Barry’s dad is wearing a ball cap, and his face is never seen on film.

This revelation sends The Flash down memory lane, and we see the details of his mother’s murder. Then, in a burst of speed brought on by the unhappy memories, Barry finds that he can travel through time. So, after choosing to ignore advice on the matter given to him by Ben Affleck’s Batman, he launches himself, Delorean-style, backward through time, intent on saving his mother’s life and his father from a lifetime of incarceration.

This has the unfortunate yet predictable side effect of creating an alternate timeline/universe with a significantly different timeline than the one he remembers.

Largely relying on coincidence and magical MacGuffins to further the plot at key moments, The Flash is far from breaking any new ground in the emerging big-budget sci-fi multiverse subgenre. In fact, as a plot device, Barry’s new and nearly effortless ability to travel through time presents as many cinematic problems as it does opportunities.

The film lacks much emotional cohesion, as we’re not given enough time or enough of a reason to care about the characters that drive most of the plot. Further, thanks to the time/multiverse-traveling plot device, any feelings that are engendered by the events or characters in it are largely rendered meaningless by the film’s end.

While, as a matter of nostalgia porn, it was wonderful to see Michael Keaton suit up once again as Batman, younger viewers have no reason to connect with this specific iteration of the character emotionally. It’s clear that this left the filmmakers feeling pressured to manufacture an arc for him in the hopes of generating that connection. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work. Instead, it feels rushed and as artificial as most of the film’s CGI (and Keaton’s wig) looks.

Keaton’s Batman isn’t the only character that suffers from the rushed yet simultaneously bloated second act. Sasha Calle’s Supergirl is shoehorned in with a character arc that needed an entire film to be properly developed but was condensed into four minutes spread across two or three scenes.

These rushed character arcs had the unfortunate effect of forcing the audience to accept a slue of illogical actions and elements. For instance, if Supergirl has been locked up and hidden away from most human contact since her crash landing on Earth and has never been exposed to the English language, how is it that she speaks English (it’s made clear that it’s not thanks to her hearing)? Also, if scientists are studying her, why was her super suit left in the room with her instead of being in a laboratory somewhere? These are only a couple of seemingly minor yet numerous logical inconsistencies that add up to serve as distractions from the overall narrative.

In an almost 2.5-hour film, many of these issues could have been eliminated by simply swapping in Henry Cavill’s Superman and eliminating Keaton’s Batman having given up crimefighting. The character of Batman is well established enough on its own that younger audiences would have connected with him, even though Keaton’s inclusion would have been meaningless to them unto itself, and Cavill’s Superman wouldn’t have needed any forced backstory to have an emotional reason to fight Zod. It would have saved at least thirty minutes and made for a much tighter and better-paced film.

That being said, the performances are all serviceable. Ezra Miller plays two different Barry Allens simultaneously, one 18 and one 20-something. His seasoned 20-something is an often dour fellow who, even though he’s one of the most powerful and respected (if not by The Justice League) beings on the planet, continues to suffer from his inability to connect with people, often stuttering and fumbling like a befuddled 90’s Hugh Grant character without the charm or charisma. There are also a number of brief moments in which Miller seems disconnected from a particular scene’s emotional through-line, and one wonders if these aren’t the result of the numerous reshoots reported to have taken place as recently as January of this year.

The mirror image of the dour Barry, 18-year-old Barry is a drug-addled borderline moron who takes nothing seriously… until the movie needs him to. Then he suddenly switches gears after a single conversation. Generally speaking, young Barry’s character is exactly and conveniently what the film needs it to be to further things along at any given time.

Sasha Calle does her best with very little. She’s neither distractingly bad nor explosively engaging, and she’s not given enough screen time to develop in order for us to tell if she is better than the weak material she’d been given.

That brings us to Michael Keaton. Even though his character is given a weak and unnecessary arc, Keaton slips into Batman/Bruce Wayne like Michelle Pfeiffer into a catsuit. At 41 years Ezra Miller’s senior, Keaton’s performance is easily the most effortless, natural, and energetic in the film.

Keaton’s performance notwithstanding, in a film with a production budget in the neighborhood of $220 million, one would expect this superhero summer tent pole film to be a special effects feast for the eyes. It is not. While the designs are excellent, so much so that they often make up for the dismal execution, the digital effects are among the worst in recent film history. It’s as though the technical expertise and limits of 2003 traveled backward in time with The Flash to give us effects that the uncanny valley’s drunk uncle puked up. Whether it’s nightmarish-looking babies falling through the sky or time-traveling pocket universes, the team responsible for The Flash’s CGI has set the new benchmark for ineptitude in their field.

No help to the film’s overall aesthetic, the cinematography is adequate if uninspired. No stranger to big-budget special effects-laden films, cinematographer Henry Braham, most recently known for his work on Guardians of The Galaxy 3, spends much of the film doing little more than pointing and shooting. One notable exception is the titular speedster’s first exhibition of speed. Still, this scene being virtually entirely CGI, one is left to wonder if the sequence’s interesting look and feel was one of the art department instead of Braham’s input.

As a side note, there’s a not insignificant amount of cursing in this PG-13 film, including but not limited to a single f-bomb. Virtually every curse seemed out of place and was an unnecessary distraction from an already busy film.

A key criticism, one that best embodies the inherent issues with The Flash’s narrative, is that its main antagonist, with the exception of a blink-and-you-miss-it moment early on, is only truly introduced in the closing minutes of the film and is on screen for fewer than five minutes before he is dealt with, and then mostly via exposition dump.

None of this is to say that The Flash doesn’t offer up a couple of fun or emotionally impactful moments. Barry’s interactions with his mother come across as sincere and tug the intended heartstrings for anyone who has lost someone close to them. Furthermore, there’s a brief cameo that will almost certainly choke up fans of the genre who are of a certain age and others that can’t help but make you smile.

When the credits roll and the third-rate after-credit scene blessedly comes to an end, most of The Flash just sort of exists and will take you from A to B without necessarily boring you, but it won’t move you either. It’s worth renting once, but little more.


Disclaimer: If the news stories are to be believed, it’s pretty clear that Ezra Miller is a deeply troubled man and likely a dangerous criminal. That being said, this film’s principal photography was wrapped before accusations of Miller’s alleged conduct were known. Furthermore, we rate movies on their own merits independently of what is going on in the background.

  • For some reason, Barry’s mom is now Spanish, even though Ezra Miller is of Ashkenazi Jewish, Dutch, and German descent.
    • I thought that it was verboten/racist for a person (especially a white person) to play an ethnicity of which they were not in real life. How exactly does Miller get a pass?
  • Everything about Supergirl’s inclusion in place of Superman.
    • Her ethnicity checked off one DEI box while her gender did another.
  • Barry Allen is a whiny beta male when it serves the narrative or sets up a joke.
    • Barry Allen, in the comics (at least in the comics from years past) was assertive and brilliant. This Barry Allen is inexplicably mealy-mouthed.



James Carrick

James Carrick is a passionate film enthusiast with a degree in theater and philosophy. James approaches dramatic criticism from a philosophic foundation grounded in aesthetics and ethics, offering insight and analysis that reveals layers of cinematic narrative with a touch of irreverence and a dash of snark.


  • Philip

    June 16, 2023 at 9:36 am

    I think you mean ‘dour’, not ‘dower’. Otherwise well-written as usual. I enjoy these.



    • James Carrick

      June 16, 2023 at 9:44 am

      Lol. Thanks. I wrote it at 3-3:30 in the morning. So, I’ll count myself lucky if that’s the only typo.


      • Dave

        June 16, 2023 at 10:51 am

        Not that lucky… wrote “when the credits role” towards the end.

        Get some ZZZZZ. Love your work.


  • Scott

    June 16, 2023 at 4:05 pm

    He gets a pass because he calls himself a they/them. He can get away with anything.


  • Ginger

    June 16, 2023 at 4:51 pm

    Good, fair review! The only appealing bits in the credits for me are Batman and Supergirl. Keaton’s delivery of his famous lines came off as flat. Did they pack a nostalgic punch in the actual film? The CGI looks so horrendous. I can’t take it seriously. Knowing what i know of Miller, and having not been a fan, I don’t desire to see it. I didn’t fall in love with any of the DCU films. I’ve probably had Superhero fatigue since Captain America Civil War. The ultra wokeness in more recent superhero films and shows killed everything for me. I will retreat back to my comic book and 80s-90s, early aughts memories.


    • James Carrick

      June 16, 2023 at 8:22 pm

      Ironically, Keaton’s trademarked lines did fall flat and felt artificially injected in the moment.


  • Psychomic

    June 17, 2023 at 3:16 pm

    About to go see it today. Thank you so much for your reviews. There’s been a lot of movies I haven’t seen because of you. And that’s a good thing.


  • Victor

    June 17, 2023 at 7:39 pm

    This website is very needed tired of renting or buying a movie and having to quit watching when the wokeness became unbearable I will support however I can!


    • James Carrick

      June 17, 2023 at 11:54 pm

      Thanks! The best thing you can do to help is share share share our stuff.


  • TrulyWoke

    June 20, 2023 at 1:28 pm

    This site has to be satire, right? The reason Superman wasn’t included is because Barry was in an alternate universe. Do you not understand the concept of an alternate universe? It would be extremely lame if the only difference in the alternate universe was Keaton as Batman.

    How insane do you have to be to think that including a long-established female comic book character in a comic book movie is a example of negative wokeness? I guess anyone who thinks that equality between the sexes and races is a negative thing is insane by default.



    • Andrew

      June 21, 2023 at 5:35 pm

      Unfortunately, there are conservatives against actual wokeness (which entails forcing your views onto others and hating conservatives while claiming to be accepting of everyone), and then there are conservatives who think all anti-racist messaging is inherently woke (he has called Zootopia ultra-progressive; he doesn’t back it up because he probably can’t; he merely says it), who think ANY inclusion of a female character over a male is woke, and who believe all men need to be type A, macho “alphas” (this is a toxic mindset; unlike a woke person, I have no problem with type A alpha males, but this guy cannot tolerate non-alpha males, which makes him intolerant by definition). This website is a good idea, but unfortunately, this is the wrong kind of conservative (the negative stereotype of a conservative that progressives try to claim represents the majority).



      • James Carrick

        June 21, 2023 at 6:20 pm

        “Where 2016’s Zootopia used a giant cannon rammer to shove down such ridiculous progressive nonsense like a fox can be an elephant if it has a strong enough case of the feelsies, at least it was a well-paced, well-structured story in which the ever-present ideology was only the driving force behind the plot but not the plot itself.” – an excerpt from my review for Elemental (which is what you are erroneously referencing in this Flash review for some reason).



        • James

          July 7, 2023 at 1:41 am

          Excellent riposte. There’s a reason some people make accusations without offering quotes or other evidence to back them up.


      • stan

        June 29, 2023 at 5:31 pm

        yawn, next…


    • stan

      June 29, 2023 at 5:36 pm

      i love how idiots like yourself think your making a point by commenting on a site that will shoot your pointless and woke-based drivel down quicker than you can get laid. And also commenting just adds more fuel to those of us who believe people like you are deluded and need to get out of your mommy’s basemen and get a real job and actually contribute to society and waste value oxygen.



      • James

        July 7, 2023 at 11:41 am

        I read your post twice just to double check, but nope–it was still completely incoherent. You shouldn’t call other people idiots when you cant even string a few sentences together in a way that makes sense.

        Compensate much?



  • Liberalism is a Disease

    June 21, 2023 at 4:10 pm

    This question made me laugh:

    “I thought that it was verboten/racist for a person (especially a white person) to play an ethnicity of which they were not in real life. How exactly does Miller get a pass?”

    Because he ticks that queer box, period, end of story. Don’t you know the double standard rules? Straights are not permitted to play gays, but gays can play anyone they want. Whites are not allowed to play any race, but any race is welcome to play white. Men are not allowed to play women unless they are or heavily support the trans movement, but trans are allowed to play any role they like.

    And, as we have been made aware of, the academy awards won’t even permit a nomination unless you have prominent queer, prominent minority and prominent female roles because a good movie is defined by it’s agenda and not its actors.



    • Jacob

      July 11, 2023 at 12:41 am

      About some things you said, modern family cam isn’t gay irl, same with captain holt from b99, these people were chose because they did a great job as actors. Same reason why NPH was chosen for barney role in HIMYM. And about whites playing other race, it’s not that they aren’t allowed to (maybe they aren’t) but the non-white characters are very less, take the comics for example, there’s less non-white characters than white ones. But in manga adaptions, they take whites often.


  • Morris Devereaux

    June 23, 2023 at 12:08 am

    Good review. I just saw this movie three days ago and the review pretty much nails it. Good job.


  • Tia

    June 23, 2023 at 12:30 pm

    Huh, this movie sounds less woke than I expected. Still not a great movie (the special effects sound like they’ll be disappointing), but I think I’ll now be willing to watch it. If the library gets a copy. Thanks!


  • louis bahr

    June 29, 2023 at 10:54 am

    After reading up on Ezra Miller’s criminal allegation and after Googling images of Ezra Miller, I have no desire to see “The Flash.” I have no desire to be entertained by criminal weirdos and perverts; I’ll stick with actors and actresses with depth of character and virtue, which is a tough commodity to find today.



    • Brad Becker

      July 24, 2023 at 3:10 pm

      I was about to leave a similar comment only after reading everyone elses. I agree with your point of view. This actor Ezra is a weirdo.
      Difficult to watch his movie character while simultaneously processing knowledge of his real life character. Same applies to the gay actor Jake Gyllenhal after reading a synopsis about Broke Back Mountain and that it’s about two dudes exchanging “peanuts”. And his co-star, forgot his name, the one who shot himself. Other actors with gayness are Daniel Craig, Tom Hardy… John Travolta, Will Smith, Bruce Willis (what he did at Studio 54 in NYC to get a job there when he first got into the business)..whatever. I can’t watch any of these actors knowing how disgusting they are.


  • ChoketheWoke

    July 1, 2023 at 10:46 pm

    Sorry, but the primary writer of this movie is the woman responsible for the execrable ‘Birds of Prey’. She was hired for her sex and ethnicity, not her talent, ability or resonance with the source material. That’s a VERY Woke thing to do.


    • James Carrick

      July 2, 2023 at 9:15 am

      While I agree that it is an incredibly woke hiring practice, if we rated films on the wokeness of the people making the, there wouldn’t be a movie that wasn’t rated completely woke.


  • Mark Perry

    July 2, 2023 at 6:50 am

    Best movie of this year so far. Zero woke and the story was awesome.


  • Jacob

    July 11, 2023 at 12:46 am

    I’m still wondering how Erza was recruited even after their, jk, his criminal history, while Johnny Depp lost a lot of opportunities, got kicked out of projects because he was ACCUSED.


  • Nathan

    September 12, 2023 at 8:56 pm

    5 out of 5

    I always check here before buying or renting a movie, since this one is non-woke I will watch it now, thank you very much for the work you do!


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