Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Review: “The Flash” is a Hit, the DC Version of “Avengers Endgame” with Ezra Miller’s Double Knockout, Spectacular Effects, and Surprise Ending (Don’t Spoil)


Ezra Miller — let’s face it — has been in the news a lot this last year, and for nothing good. Grooming, kidnapping, weird stuff. In the end, not much came of it, but Warner Bros. stuck by him/them because they’d invested so much in him as “The Flash.”

Now having seen “The Flash,” you might see that this guy could have cracked up a little. In a two and a half hour movie Miller is in just about every scene. Since Miller uses they/them pronouns it seems apt that ‘he’ actually plays ‘they’ or ‘them” since there are two Barry Allens in almost every scene, often just the two of them. It’s Barry Allen from “now” as an adult, and Barry as a teen existing at the same time. The amount of work to this done could only have been staggering.

The good news is that Miller is up to the task. They are a strong actor with still untapped potential. Miller rises to the occasion with aplomb. The Flash/Barry Allen in stereo is eminently watchable and carries the movie on his back.

Even with Barry/The Flash everywhere all at once, “The Flash” is kind of a “Batman” movie. The dark knight is a heavy presence, playing a sort of “Iron Man” to a younger Spider Man. It’s also for DC Comics Fans, the equivalent of “Avengers Endgame.” I loved it even when it went totally batshit (a word heard in the film, funny) crazy with a convoluted fight scene involving Supergirl (Sasha Calle) and General Zod (Michael Shannon) in their movie-within-a movie.

Not to give it away, but everyone is in this movie, even DC OG’s George Reeve and Adam West. You know Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton each play Batman. Keaton has a big juicy return from his original 90s movies. Gal Gadot buzzes in as Wonder Woman. Jeremy Irons returns as Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s butler (how I will always think of him). Nicolas Cage makes a cameo as a Superman who never existed, a nod to the film that was never made with him as the Man of Steel. Henry Cavill is seen in an illustration.

But then the last part of the film is flooded with cameos and clips that offer a lovely salute to the whole DC mishegos of the last 70 years. Director Andy Muschietti pulls off a clever coda and makes this lively, cheeky comic movie sentimental in the nicest way. You have to think that new DC chiefs James Gunn and Peter Safran influenced this as a way of saying goodbye to an era before they substantially change the company.

Warning to fan boys, girls, and others: don’t spoil the surprise at the end.

By the way, there’s really nice work from Ron Livingston and Maribel Verdu as Barry’s parents, and Kiersey Clemons as Iris West, Barry’s maybe girlfriend.

The movie isn’t all character and script, although I give Christina Hodson and Joby Harold a lot of credit for crisp dialogue – there’s a lot of talking — and landing this unwieldy enterprise safely on the ground. “The Flash” also boast some superior special effects, spectacular below the line production and art work, animations. VFX, all those credits that come at the end and you don’t know what they mean. These unheralded people are artisans.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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