‘The Flash’ (2023) Review: Less Of A Superhero Multiverse Film, More Of A Hate Letter To Zack Snyder


Controversial films and movies featuring controversial artists aren’t something new. Sometimes production houses knowingly work with problematic people. Other times they hire someone knowing that they’re unproblematic, and they go on an alleged crime spree. It happens. But despite all of these issues, when you see a studio like Warner Brothers still soldiering on and roping in Tom Cruise and Stephen King to praise it, you’d expect it to be something special. You’d expect it to be so extraordinary that it’ll compel you to switch your moral compass off, chuck it out of the window, and just go on a ride through DC’s multiverse. You’d expect it to be so emotionally moving that you become way too invested in the characters, the plot, and the themes. The Flash does none of that. So, let’s talk about it.

Here’s the plot summary: Barry Allen is lonely. His father is about to be sent to jail permanently for allegedly killing Barry’s mother, who is still very dead. So, one night, he runs incredibly fast, breaks through the space-time continuum, and ends up in a Speed Force globe of sorts, which he can use to appear at different points in his life. Despite Bruce Wayne’s warnings, he decides to go back to the point where Barry’s mother runs out of canned tomatoes, and his father goes to the shop to get them. He thinks that if his mother gets her tomatoes, then the subsequent events won’t happen, thereby ensuring her survival. However, a darker version of him sends him into an alternate timeline where his mother is alive, his father is not a criminal, and an alternate 18-year-old version of him already exists. When they learn that Zod is about to destroy that iteration of Earth, they reach out to Batman (Michael Keaton’s version) for help.

Like every other multiverse story in existence, The Flash is about letting go of the past after realizing that the repercussions of changing it are too destructive. But the funny thing about what Andy Muschietti, Christina Hodson, Joby Harold, and everyone else that’s remotely associated with this atrocious movie are doing is that they’re committing the same mistakes as Barry Allen by hyper fixating on Zack Snyder and his films. I am not even kidding when I say that I am baffled upon seeing the amount of time and effort they’ve put into erasing Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman, and Zack Snyder’s Justice League from the canon. Why? What’s the point? Those movies are in the past. Zack Snyder has moved on. Ben Affleck had moved on. Henry Cavill had moved on. You (the studio) are already rebooting the franchise with new characters and a new cast. But why do you have to dedicate an entire movie to trampling all over their work? What has Snyder ever done other than make films that look and sound like the millions of dollars that are spent on them? What are you getting out of hating on him?

I know it may sound like a stretch to say that a movie is a hate letter to Zack Snyder, but from the first frame to the last, The Flash does nothing but dunk on his DC adaptations. Instead of respecting the tone that was established in Snyder’s Justice League film, Muschietti brings back the juvenile and perverted jokes from Joss Whedon’s version to sexualize Wonder Woman while giving Affleck’s Batman the worst costume imaginable. They set the entire film around the events of Man of Steel and regurgitate the visuals and sounds made famous by Snyder and his team in the most disgusting ways possible. If you put the desert scene from Man of Steel and the one from this film side-by-side, you’ll see the difference and realize what happens when a director has a vision and when a director doesn’t have an ounce of originality. By the way, it’s not just a case of recreation. It’s a case of purposefully taking things that Snyder and his team had made with care and then contorting them with terrible writing and puke-inducing CGI, VFX, lighting, sound design, and editing. And the end result is so awful that I’d like to forget this viewing experience and rewatch Snyder’s films over and over again.

The Flash’s crimes don’t stop at hating Snyder, though. Once it’s done erasing Snyder’s legacy from the canon, it creepily shifts its focus to Tim Burton’s work and tries to ruin it. I say “try” because Batman and Batman Returns are too good to be ruined by the people currently running Warner Bros. and the incompetent Andy Muschietti. I can always go back, watch them, and enjoy them. The only thing that has the power to disturb my Burton-Batman binge is the memory of those multiverse cameos. Well, I won’t say that they are cameos because cameos require an actor to actually be on the set to do a small scene. The moment where the various Supermen, Flashes, and Batmen appear are digital zombies because most of them have been disrespectfully resurrected. That, too, for what? A few cheers? A few claps? A few hoots? If that was the intention behind the whole montage, the least they could’ve done was make them appear realistic. They look like rubber puppets being forced to prance around by the studio executives for no logical reason. It didn’t make me nostalgic at all. It almost made me scream in terror and hurl something at the screen!

What else is left to talk about The Flash? Oh right! The acting. There’s not a single good performance in this entire film. Ezra Miller’s whiny dialogue delivery is irritating. Ben Affleck appears bored. Michael Keaton seems disinterested. Sasha Calle is hilariously bad. Michael Shannon sounds like he doesn’t want to be in this film. Ron Livingston and Maribel Verdú’s talents are wasted. The same can be said about Kiersey Clemons. Rudy Mancuso is in the cast, and I have no clue why. Was the casting director banking on his acting skills or his fanbase on Vine? Jeremy Irons is there in a few scenes. He acts like Alfred Pennyworth. That’s great, I suppose. Temuera Morrison appears to make a fat joke, which is as idiotic as it sounds. Gal Gadot shows up with that vacant expression on her face. Jason Momoa does some drunken acting. And then there’s George Clooney. Look, I don’t hate the man. I don’t completely hate his version of Batman. But considering what he represents in this film, I feel a little hatred bubbling inside me. So, before that turns into another full-blown rant, let’s conclude this review.

The Flash can be categorized as one of worst movies of the year. Don’t watch it. Go and watch Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox. It’s amazing. If you’re in the mood for multiverse films, go and watch Into the Spider-Verse and Across the Spider-Verse. If you want to watch a multiverse film without superheroes, then give Everything Everywhere All At Once a try. If you want a show that tackles the multiverse, then start watching the three seasons of Dark. If you don’t want to deal with multiversal shenanigans, go and watch Zack Snyder’s films because at least they look, sound, and feel fantastic. But whatever you do, don’t exhaust your time and money on The Flash. In addition to all that, I hope that Warner Brothers finds it in themselves to put aside all the hatred they have for Snyder and try making something that surpasses his work. I know it’s an impossible task, but you have to start somewhere. The alternative to that is to seethe, cope, and lay awake at night wondering where you went wrong while the answers stare back at you.

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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The Flash's crimes don't stop at hating Snyder, though. Once it's done erasing Snyder's legacy from the canon, it creepily shifts its focus to Tim Burton's work and tries to ruin it.'The Flash' (2023) Review: Less Of A Superhero Multiverse Film, More Of A Hate Letter To Zack Snyder