One of the biggest cliches in superhero movies and just about any franchise these days are mutliverses and unabashed fan service. We've seen its inception since Spider-Man: No Way Home and it's only intensified with everything from Marvel to the Fast and Furious series.
Well, we can now add The Flash to that list, but this time the cliches work in order to make a fast (no pun intended), funny, and supercharged DC outing that is one of the better offerings, mainly because it has a knowing sense of being entertaining.
Ezra Miller returns as Barry Allen/The Flash, now a forensic investigator for Central City. At the beginning of the film, he's helping out Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne/Batman stop a robbery that's gone wrong. This opening sequence is packed with a lot of LOL moments that don't disappoint and I refuse to reveal. I'd love to see Marvel try a similar attempt.
Barry then returns to his childhood home where his mother died and wants to travel back in time to stop it from happening, but Bruce warns him of the consequences of what may happen.
Barry encounters another version of himself (also played by Miller) in an alternate timeline and together the two are understandably confused. The original Barry gets struck by lightning, causing him to transfer his powers to his doppelganger. His counterpart is pretty much the exact opposite of him: Where the original is self-consciously serious, his counterpart is a joke a minute. Nevertheless, Miller is effective in both roles.
The two Barrys try to reach out to Bruce for help but when they travel to Wayne Manor, they discover a different version of Bruce in the returning form of Michael Keaton. Keaton still brings the same amount of brooding intensity that put him on the map. Not to mention, we still get hints of Danny Elfman's bombastic theme when he's on screen.
The CGI involving Keaton's Batman is sharp and clear and convincing demonstrating how much special effects have come along since 1989 and 1992. He also tries to explain the theories of these multiverses over spaghetti.
Batman leads the two Barrys to try to find Superman, whom they believe is located in Siberia only to find out it's actually Superman's cousin Kara Zor-El, a.k.a. Supergirl (Sasha Calle). Calle's scenes do showcase a decent amount of development and may hint of her getting her own film at some point.
In terms of its fan service, The Flash reminded me of a kid who's allowed to have an unlimited sugar rush. We get so many DC Easter eggs and winks that they're pounded into our heads with the force of a sledgehammer. I mentioned that I wouldn't be surprised if Calle's Supergirl gets her own movie, but I'm thinking there are several sequences where both Warner Bros. and the DCU are begging to see some of their aborted efforts resurface.
The CGI can be hit-or-miss. Certain scenes involving The Flash speeding off can look unpolished, but the film compensates with others such as the aforementioned moments involving Keaton and even Affleck.
Still, I do have to admit that I enjoyed so much of this largely due to its lively performances and a terrific sense of pace that never sacrifices story for spectacle. Miller, Keaton, Calle and the others are all given enough screen time to see these characters fleshed out and taken in directions that are both expected and unexpected. The action scenes know they're funny and unlike a lot of other superhero movies, they're in great service to the story.
While this movie may not quite have the visual splendor or emotional heft of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, The Flash is a worthy extravaganza that I hope DC is able to maintain with future installments.