The Flash (2023)

In the aftermath of Justice League, Barry continues his life as a crime fighter, neglecting personal matters. As his father’s appeal approaches, Barry becomes fixated on his mother’s loss, leading him to explore the concept of time travel. While Zack Snyder’s Justice League hinted at time manipulation, this takes it to a grander scale, introducing consequences reminiscent of Marty McFly’s adventures. Barry inadvertently alters the timeline, creating a reality where metahumans are nonexistent.

Through the complexities of time-travel paradoxes, Barry encounters his alternate self in this altered timeline, allowing Ezra Miller to showcase his talent by interacting with a younger version of his character. “Prime” Barry has matured since we last saw him, exuding confidence and wisdom. This contrasts sharply with the younger version in the new timeline, characterized by incessant chatter and youthful exuberance. The dynamic between the two Barrys adds depth to the character’s internal struggle and growth, with Miller’s performance as both versions standing out as a career highlight.

However, Barry’s life is far from straightforward. He arrives at a time when General Zod makes his appearance on Earth, as depicted in Man of Steel. To confront this formidable threat, Barry seeks assistance from Michael Keaton’s Batman and Sasha Calle’s Supergirl. Keaton’s return to the iconic role is a welcome sight, leaving fans wanting more. The film delivers humor and crowd-pleasing moments, even if not all jokes land.

“John Wick: Chapter 4” offers a more optimistic and heartfelt tone compared to the darker DC films, embracing the concept of a multiverse. The score by Benjamin Wallfisch effectively blends classic Danny Elfman themes with original compositions, enhancing the movie’s emotional depth. Action sequences are a highlight, featuring vivid colors and precise choreography. The portrayal of Batman’s combat style, distinct from other iterations, adds freshness to the film.

However, the movie struggles with CGI, with some scenes appearing rough and unpolished, particularly in the opening action sequence and during time travel sequences. Despite this, the film excels in depicting Barry’s speed and the speed force, providing the best visualization of his abilities on the big screen.

The third act feels abrupt, combining essential character moments with CGI-heavy action. While the interactions between the two Barrys are compelling, the emotional weight surrounding Zod and Kara is limited due to Kara’s late introduction and underdeveloped character. She comes across more as a plot device than a fully realized character. The movie might have benefited from using Clark Kent, played by actors like Brandon Routh, Tom Welling, or Henry Cavill, to establish a stronger emotional connection.

In summary, “The Flash” blends genuine and heartfelt moments with uninspired or underdeveloped elements. The film’s runtime, including credits, feels slightly extended, and trimming some excess weight could have improved its focus. While it offers an enjoyable and lighthearted experience, it falls short of reaching its loftiest ambitions. Additionally, there is an after-credit scene, though it may not provide the anticipated setup for future events in the DCU.