|Worth seeing:||for the return of some familiar faces as Ezra Miller plays alongside himself, while the pseudo-science loses the plot|
|Featuring:||Ezra Miller, Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Ian Loh, Jeremy Irons, Kiersey Clemons, Maribel Verdu, Michael Keaton, Michael Shannon, Ron Livingston, Sasha Calle|
|Released:||14th June 2023|
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
When disaster strikes at a hospital in Gotham City, Batman (Ben Affleck) is busy chasing a gang of thieves, so his butler, Alfred (Jeremy Irons) summons the Flash (Ezra Miller) to save the day, which – with his superfast speed – he does. It’s useful having a whole Justice League of heroes to call on in a city like that.
In his everyday persona of Barry Allen, the Flash is approached by an old school friend outside his work; Iris (Kiersey Clemons) is now a journalist and asks him about his Dad Henry’s upcoming parole hearing; Henry’s in jail for killing Barry’s mother, when he was a child. Barry knows his father is innocent, but can’t prove it.
One day, Barry realises that if he runs fast enough, he can actually turn back time, so he decides to go back to change the past, to stop his mother being killed – and keep his father out of jail. Everything looks good until the Barry from THAT timeline returns from university – with a different haircut – and Barry needs to stop the other Barry’s parents seeing that there are two of them.
Anyone who’s seen Back to the Future – including both Barries – knows that when you’re travelling in time, it’s really important not to interact with anyone – especially yourself – so this trip to the past has consequences.
And anyone who’s seen The Butterfly Effect (or at least knows the theory) won’t be surprised to hear that just popping back to the past to change a few things has had a wider knock-on effect of its own; one of the most evil villains in the universe, Krypton’s General Zod (Michael Shannon) is about to attack Earth and there’s only one person modern-day Barry can find to help him save the planet…
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
What is it with these comic-book films and multi-verses? Marvel’s Spider-Man: No Way Home recently explored the idea and we’ve just had his animated alter-ego return to the Spider-Verse. And now DC are catching up.
The Flash initially makes quite a good stab at it – we can see why he wants to go back in time – we can see why he finds it necessary to engage with his younger self – and it’s nice to see how the modern-day Barry has to mature quickly to mentor the puerile student Barry. For much of the film, Ezra Miller is playing alongside himself and both he and the special effects team do a creditable job of making this convincing.
Barry Allen isn’t the most likeable – or interesting – of the Justice League of super-heroes, which is perhaps why the film that bears his name is full of other familiar names from the DC universe – and many of the film’s best moments come when they are on screen.
The exploration of the Butterfly Effect gives rise to some humorous asides – and the appearance of a familiar face as Bruce Wayne in the earlier timeline is also satisfyingly convincing.
But as the film progresses, its exploration of the spaghetti theory of multi-verses begins to unwind and while there are flickers of artistry and nods of recognition, the pseudo-science starts to lose the plot, as the story itself explodes into the kind of incoherent mess too many comic book capers descend into, with computer generated battles in unfamiliar realms framing a narrative that doesn’t quite hang together.
There is a scene at the end of the very long credits – as you might expect from a comic book film – but unlike the tags in Marvel films, it doesn’t seem to be teasing a sequel – or indeed the next DC adventure; it’s more of an excuse to get another familiar face onto the screen, without serving any creative purpose.