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Review: 'The Flash'

The pre-release hype for The Flash was a pretty mixed bag. Reportedly, preview audiences gave it sky high ratings.

But then came concerns about Ezra Miller’s personal life and problems stemming from alleged violent behavior on multiple occasions. Added to that was the announcement about being non-binary and the personal pronoun requests. To be clear, I’m not faulting the announcement or gender-related guidelines, just the timing of them.

On some level, revelations like these can be problematic to the launching and marketing of a major, big-budget movie. What you want is focus on the product and the success of the project. What you don’t want is anything that detracts or distracts from that in any way, particularly when the movie is exceptionally good and you’re trying to lay the groundwork for record-breaking ticket sales.

Make no mistake, The Flash is an exceptionally entertaining movie. Walking out of the theater, it occurred to me that it was among the best superhero movies that I’ve ever seen.

To put that into context, I have complained that I have been suffering from superhero burnout for quite some time. For me, the plots had become simplified, repetitive and blandly predictable. They were movies I barely enjoyed watching even once.

In the case of The Flash, I was already pumped for another viewing even as I was exiting the theater. I haven’t felt that way in quite some time.

Quite simply, everything about The Flash is exceptional, starting with a first-rate script that digs deep into the material offering strong connections between familiar characters and throwing new characters and storylines into the mix. The handling of the material is respectful and thoughtful.

Die-hard fans will be satisfied with the detail and depth. Newcomers to The Flash saga will have no problem being introduced to the character, his origin and the dilemma he faces. The story is brilliantly told.

It’s a complicated, complex story that involves time travel and the co-existence of two versions of the Flash character who find themselves thrown into the same baffling time frame trying to find a way out.

Comparisons to Back to the Future are immediate, but the writers manage to acknowledge that similarity and cleverly incorporate it into the plot. The inclusion is one of the plot triggers that lets the Flash know that a ripple in time has already altered the reality that he thinks he knows.

While movies about time travel are usually a muddled mess in the end, The Flash manages to sidestep time paradox issues and all the inherent problems to make the plot seem plausible and thought provoking.

It raises the poignant question about having the ability to go back in time and being able to change the course of events. In the case of The Flash, it is the chance to save the lives and fates of his parents by simply altering the act of dropping a can of tomato sauce into a shopping cart at the local grocery store. It seems innocent enough, a tiny adjust in the flow of time that can correct a chain of events with disastrous consequences.

But, of course, as in other stories about time travel and attempts to tamper with the linkage of already-established events, the Flash discovers that he has altered reality on a much grander level that threaten the lives and very existence of his former fellow superheroes, worse, he jeopardizes his own superpowers and ability to make things right again.

The Flash is a compelling, emotional, thought-provoking story. While it borrows on the device of multiple versions of the same superhero, as we witnessed in the recent Spider-Man movie, it charts its own course and remains riveting until and including the final reel.

Technically, The Flash is nothing short of dazzling. It is a non-stop succession of perfectly executed shots, crafted to perfection. There isn’t a bad or mediocre shot in the entire movie. To its credit, the action is masterfully staged with no reliance on the sloppy flash-and-trash, rapid fire exciting approach to action sequences that have crept into so many superhero movies.

Ezra Miller turns in a stellar performance, playing two versions of the Flash character throughout most of the film. It’s a powerhouse performance.

Michael Keaton’s return as Batman is triumphant. One has to be reminded that his quirky take on Batman kick-started the superhero genre back in _____. In The Flash, he reclaims and recreates the power of his Bruce Wayne/Batman character in a manner that will have fans standing and cheering. He is remarkable.

Other incarnations of Batman and other characters return, all perfectly blended into a mind-bender of a script. Familiar characters are reintroduced and redefined, notably Sasha Calle as Supergirl.

There are many, many twists and surprises along the way. The Flash is a lean, mean machine running on high octane fuel,

Ounce for ounce and shot for shot, it will prove to be one of the brightest spots at the box office this summer. It’s that long-awaited movie that many of us thought we’d never see again—a superhero movie with freshness and sizzling sparkle that restores out faith in a fading genre.

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