Posted on June 15, 2023 at 5:16 pmB +
|Lowest Recommended Age:||Middle School|
|MPAA Rating:||Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, some strong language and partial nudity|
|Profanity:||Some strong language, several s-words, one f-word|
|Violence/ Scariness:||Extended comic-book action peril and violence, injuries and sad deaths|
|Date Released to Theaters:||June 15, 2023|
“The Flash” is centered in the sweet spot between action, comedy, and heart because is is grounded in a deep affection for the source material but is not afraid to play with some of its absurdities. I’m going to tread very carefully to avoid spoilers (and alert you to what I hope will be just two of the jokes in this review), but if you want to go into the film knowing nothing, including what is in the trailer, come back and read this after you’ve seen it.
Ezra Miller shows no signs of the instability that has led to troubling behavior and disturbing headlines in his excellent performance as not one but two Barry Allens. The storyline allows for something of an origin story without the too-often superhero film mistake of making it all about the adjustment to the use and purpose of superpowers and attendant vulnerabilities. We first see Barry Allen (Flash’s secret identity) trying to get a high-protein sandwich at a cafe counter. He is, unsurprisingly, in a hurry because first, he is running late, and two, as a result of the energy he burns in his super-fastness requires a lot of food for fuel. It’s not quite like Popeye and spinach, but it’s not not like it, either.
Barry is awkward and shy. He works as a forensic scientist, looking at evidence from crime scenes. And he is hoping to exonerate his father, Henry (Ron Livingston), who is in prison for murdering his wife, Barry’s mother, when Barry was a child. Barry knows his father is innocent, and is hoping that his friend Bruce (Batman) Wayne (Ben Affleck) can help him with a crucial piece of evidence, security camera footage from a grocery store that would substantiate Henry’s alibi. But the enhanced clarity of the tape, shot from above, does not show Henry’s face, only his baseball cap. Barry, devastated, goes for such an intensive run that he passes the speed of light and goes back in time. If he can do that, he reasons, maybe he can go back further and prevent his mother’s murder. Bruce Wayne warns him it is a big mistake. Butterfly effect, etc. He, of course, knows very well what it is like to have your entire live defined by a devastating childhood loss.
Barry cannot resist. And that is when things start to scramble. First, one very small choice somehow had a lot of major repercussions, some strangely random. Somehow, instead of Michael J. Fox coming in to replace him, the original star of “Back to the Future,” Eric Stoltz, stayed in the role. The people he knows from his timeline are either not there or very different. And second, Barry misjudged and instead of returning to the present, he finds himself 10 years ago, which means, yes, that his teen-age self is there, too. The interaction between the two Barrys (both played by Miller), one formed by the murder of his mother and wrongful conviction of his father and one who grew up in a home with intact, loving parents, is at the heart of the film. In fact, the villain (Michael Shannon as Kryptonian bad guy General Zod) is almost an afterthought in this film, relying on our remembering him and his whole deal from previous encounters.
Instead, the movie is more about Barry, both Barrys, their interaction and their growing understanding of their situation and, if it can be put this way, each other. From a small, witty hiccup in the presentation of the movie’s title to the throwaway lines about other anomalies in the pile of spaghetti that is what happens when you splinter linear time, to some funny cameos (Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth provides one of the film’s best moments), the film is more interested in concept and character than mayhem.
That’s a good thing as the mayhem is more serviceable than memorable. This is a movie that is more about the people than the powers, and that is a superpower worth having.
Parents should know that this film includes brief non-sexual male nudity (bare tush), some strong language (s-words and one f-word), and extended comic book-style peril and action violence, with injuries and some sad deaths.
Family discussion: What one small decision have you made that had a surprisingly big impact on your life? If you could go back in time ten years, what advice would you give yourself?
If you like this, try; Other time-warp movies like “Back to the Future” with Michael J. Fox and “Frequency” as well as other DC Comics movies