The Flash: An Exhausting Dash Through the Uncanny Valley


The world has moved on since the DCEU (DC’s attempt at a Marvel-style shared cinematic universe) sputtered into insignificance… Batman has already been rebooted as a standalone noir, and the induction of James Gunn as the studio’s new creative director signifies that the slate will be cleaned.

So, The Flash’s ironically late arrival onto our multiplexes feels oddly eulogistic… a half-hearted farewell to a failed franchise. Still, as far as DCEU movies go, Andy Muschietti’s The Flash is at least a step up from the dreary Batman V Superman or the mish-mashed Justice League.

Gone are Zack Snyder’s ponderous soliloquies on the nature of God and Man, replaced by a whimsical love-letter to Back to the Future. By trying to change the past and save his mother’s life, The Flash (Ezra Miller) ends up in a different reality, meeting an alternate version of himself in the process. While Muschietti, the man who delivered the rip-roaringly entertaining adaptation of IT, does well with the plot’s character-comedy beats, he lets the film get too bogged down in messy action sequences and multiversal world-building.

There’s really no sugar-coating it: the CGI is horrendous. Whether this is the result of an overworked VFX department or, as Muschietti insisted, an artistic choice, it’s the film’s biggest flaw. Anytime the Flash enters the so-called ‘Speed Force’, we end up in a CG goop-land located somewhere deep in the uncanny valley.

When the film has its feet firmly on the ground, though, it’s lightweight and fairly charming, thanks entirely to a terrific double performance from Ezra Miller. The star’s troubled personal life has somewhat tarnished their standing in Tinseltown, but there’s no denying that the young star is hugely charismatic and blessed with sharp comic timing.

The return of Michael Keaton as Batman, though, leaves a bad taste in the mouth… isn’t this the franchise limbo his Birdman character tried to avoid? Keaton is fine but is barely given anything interesting to do. His version of the caped crusader seems hugely out of place against the apocalyptic scale of the Zack Snyder universe. Sasha Calle’s Supergirl, on the other hand, barely registers.

Muschietti and screenwriter Christina Hodson’s hearts are in the right place, but by knotting themselves up in fan-service and crossover cameos, The Flash trudges more than it sprints.

A bloated farewell to the DCEU that’s let down by its shoddy CGI and weightless action sequences. Too bad… Miller’s sparky performance deserves a better movie.