Charles Merritt finds some philosophical and theological dilemmas in this enjoyable superhero movie.
Film: The Flash
Run Time: 155mins
Age Rating: 12A
Genre: Superhero action, thiller
If You Liked: Man of Steel, Zack Snyder’s Justice League, Batman (1989), Shazam!
Barry Allen is the fastest man alive, so fast that he can travel though time. But what if he travels too far and finds himself in an alternate reality where his mum is still alive but in a world with no meta-humans to stop General Zod and his Kryptonian army?
What I liked:
We’ll cover Ezra Miller’s controversy in the ‘faith’ section, but their performance in this movie is brilliant. They have the tough job of performing as two characters, the Barry that we already know and a Barry from an alternate dimension. Both of the Barrys feel distinct and that is a credit to Miller’s acting abilities. They carry this film and hold the emotional throughline with great pathos.
There are some brilliant gags, alternate Barry getting his powers was fun to watch, and there’s a great running joke about Back to the Future which I won’t spoil.
Being a multiverse movie, there are some cool cameos (I won’t ruin any because I think the surprise is part of the enjoyment). The two larger cameos which have been heavily advetised in the promos and trailers for this film, and which I will tell you about because of this very fact, are fun. Keaton is back as Batman but not quite as you might remember him.
He’s older and has hung up the cape and cowl – don’t worry, he soon suits up to help the Barrys to fight Zod. Sacha Calle was good in the bits she was in, but I’ll be honest, wasn’t in the movie as much as I was expecting her to be.
On a personal note, I’m grateful that this movie seemed to be set in the Snyderverse, following on from Zack Snyder’s Justice League and not the horrific theatrical cut. While I’m not sure the tone or style of the film fully matched Snyder’s vision, it wasn’t so far removed that it felt as though it couldn’t be.
What I didn’t like
Holy CGI, Batman! The visual effects in this movie are… I’m trying to be kind but… pretty awful… Having two Barrys mean that they share the screen a lot. And I don’t know whose decision it was to have CGI heads/body doubles in certain shots but it was a bad one… The CGI heads looked like something out of a cut scene of a video game (a good video game but even a good video game isn’t 100% realistic), resulting in shots that felt very uncanny valley. I don’t know whether this was made more apparent because I was at an IMAX showing or whether you wouldn’t notice so much on a smaller screen but wow. Given they’d delayed this movie multiple times, you’d think they’d have sorted it out… There are films that were made literally decades ago that do the identical twin effect so much better, it’s embarrassing!
Some of the gags don’t really work. I feel as though Ben Affleck’s final performance as Batman was wasted slightly – it felt awkward and not as epic as his portrayal in Snyder’s films.
Thoughts for parents:
There are scenes of a bloody nature, partial nudity and swear words, so beware!
But as regards the Christian faith:this movie has been an interesting one to follow. What started off as a sure-fire success for DC became, once again, complicated. Unfortunately, whilst the film was in post-production, Miller underwent a mental breakdown over the death of a loved one and began assaulting people whilst vacationing in Hawaii. It’s a sad and tough situation for both the victims and Miller themselves. I awkwardly laughed at a line Miller says in the movie to a person they have just saved, which went along the lines of ‘see a professional for mental health advice. It’s something the Justice League aren’t very good at.’
Mental health is something we should take very seriously. It’s not something to sweep under the rug or pray away. Whilst prayer is an important thing to do, and God absolutely can heal people from their mental illness, we need to make sure that we are getting people professional mental health help. The combination of a post-pandemic world, and a very much alive and kicking social media frenzy, means that mental health cases have risen over the years.
This film actually does tackle the theme of mental health itself. Barry has to learn to let go of the past and deal with the grief of losing his mother at a young age. I don’t know what things haunt you in your past but I know there are things I wish I could change but don’t have the power to. I’m not 100% sure on this theology but I wonder if God does have the power to but chooses not to? I do know that what Joseph says in Genesis 50:20 rings true: ‘you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today’.
Supergirl is initially hesitant to join the fight against Zod, given humanity had locked her away as a prisoner for years and she wondered why she would save a world that hated her. Similarly, we were not worth saving. We rejected God and chose a life of sin. And yet, ‘while we were still enemies, God fully reconciled us to himself through the death of his Son’. That’s pretty awesome, isn’t it?