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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

The Flash Review: Epic Superhero Saga, Fighting Internal Darkness

At a time when multiverses of superheroes like Spider-Man are minting money at the box office, DC Studios’ latest offering The Flash too explores these dimensions, with humour and sentimental value, almost veering into spiritual. Directed by IT‘s Andrés Muschietti, backed by Warner Bros.

Worlds collide when Barry Allen – the Flash (Ezra Miller) – uses his superpowers to travel back in time to change the events of the past. However, when his attempt to save his family inadvertently alters the future, he becomes trapped in a reality in which General Zod (Michael Shannon) has returned, threatening annihilation. With no other superheroes to turn to, the Flash looks to coax a very different Batman (Michael Keaton/Ben Affleck) out of retirement and rescue an imprisoned Kryptonian, albeit not the one he’s looking for.

Similar to Muschietti, concepts regarding motherhood and loss of innocence form the pivotal backdrop of this film too. The first action stunt of him saving newly born infants from a collapsing building foreshadows Barry’s battle of trying to save himself through the babies. The filmmaker decorates the celluloid with Flash’s colourful electricity juxtaposing his past regrets and grief. The irony is that his superpower of speed becomes his greatest weapon in defeating internal demons.

More than it being a larger-than-life escapist cinema, the first-half delves deeply into the protagonist’s mindset and ‘mental health’ (even though he jests the ‘Justice League’ has not mastered that yet). There is a strong poignant connection which humanises superheroism and embraces vulnerability. In fact, dialogues regarding detachment exude a spiritual vibe. This is enhanced further by photos of the Hindu god Hanuman, which are stuck up on Barry’s walls. Perhaps due to Hanuman being ‘Pawan Putra’ (the son of the wind), these posters symbolise strength and an omnipresent being that watches over the protagonist.

The philosophical and poignant aspects are enriched by a spectacular visual appeal. As with other movies in the DC world, the VFX and special effects in this picture are terrific. The visual effects are an additional character in the film and help to blur the line between realism/fantasy. Similar goes for the almost psychedelic camera work which continues to maintain the viewer’s attention from start to finish. Kudos also goes to the brilliant dialogue which stirs emotions as well as makes us chuckle throughout the movie. Ezra Miller and the entire cast do a splendid job of translating these words into actions. Benjamin Wallfisch’s pulsating music is enthralling too.

Makers create an effective package to entertain viewers. Plus, special appearances by other Hollywood A-listers from the superhero universe only make the cinematic experience more enjoyable. As such, conceptually, this retains a sellable commodity of nostalgia and sentimentality. However, the film takes a hit during the second half. After an initial stormy and highly engaging premise, the pace slows and drags until its climax portion. I feel a shorter length would have complemented the movie. Furthermore, there is a post-credit scene which is… Well, viewers can decide.

On the whole, The Flash is certainly a satisfying and entertaining theatre experience. It rises beyond the ‘escapist’ cinema bracket. The strong emotional core anchors the narrative to a rooted and relatable essence. Moreover, the spiritual touch in this potboiler provides a ray of hope to everyone in this gloomy era. This is a subtle reminder that like superheroes, we too have to let things go. Most certainly, the flick is up to speed.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (4/5 stars)

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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