Monday, June 19, 2023

A ‘Flash’’ too long’ -- but there's Keaton


The first thing to know about The Flash is that it's 144 minutes long. Go ahead, sigh. I did. I begin here because this overstuffed helping of DC Comics chaos has trouble sustaining engagement beyond maybe the first hour and a half of its two-hour and 24-minute run time. A little more than halfway through, I started looking at my watch as I wondered how much more director Andy Muschietti (It) would throw into this frenzied whirl of a movie. The answer: a lot. We're talking Batman, supervillain Zod, Supergirl, time travel, and even two Flashes, both played by Ezra Miller, the actor who has had his
 share of legal troubles. You can look up Miller's woes, but I hope that he's able to straighten out his life and continue his career. Here, Barry Allen (a.k.a. The Flash) encounters a younger version of himself when he travels back in time. When we first meet Barry, he's troubled because his mother (Maribel Verdu) has been murdered, a crime for which his father (Ron Livingston) has been arrested. The movie's big kick involves the appearance of Michael Keaton, who reprises his role as Batman. I thought donning Batman’s cape weighed Keaton down; he's playing a reluctant, weary Batman, but Keaton’s work exceeds cameo levels and his presence registers as a plus. An early scene in which babies are vaulted through the sky (a baby shower of sorts) is almost weird enough to justify a look but Miller's high-strung performance wears thin as the movie wears on — and it does wear on. Despite its title, the last thing The Flash does is race quickly across the finish line. Keep an eye on Sasha Calle (Supergirl), though. She has enough edge to cut through  the flying bric-a-brac, self-referential nods, noisy action, and plot overload. *

*A brief confession: As someone who grew up reading DC comics (not Marvel), I keep rooting for the DC characters, but prefer them when seen as individuals not part of a repertory company of superheroes. Fingers crossed for next time. 

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