A star rating of 4 out of 5.

“I’m the janitor of the Justice League,” grumbles DC’s fastest man alive, as he starts his first big-screen solo adventure clearing up a mess created by Batman. But that pales into insignificance with the mess he has to clear up after he travels back in time and creates an entire new reality.


The result is a lightning-paced, in-joke-stuffed, cameo-packed screwball slice of superhero cinema that takes Marvel’s multiverse shtick and gives it an anarchic Bill & Ted makeover. Welcome to the metaverse of madness.

This incarnation of superfast superhero The Flash, aka geeky forensic scientist Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) was first seen in the much-beleaguered Justice League. His first movie as headliner isn’t an origin story, though elements of the character’s comic origin do make it into the script.

Instead the film loosely adapts one of The Flash’s most celebrated comic book storylines, Flashpoint, in which Barry travels back in time to try to prevent his mother being murdered when he was a child, a crime for which his father was wrongly convicted.

But as anyone who’s seen The Butterfly Effect knows, changing even one tiny thing in the past can create ripples that turn into tsunamis.

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Which is exactly what happens here, when Barry, in a fit of pique, discovers that running faster than light means he can travel into the past. A remarkably unperturbed Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) suggests to Barry that using this new power might be unwise, but Barry, of course, ignores him.

Ezra Miller as The Flash and Michael Keaton as Batman in The Flash
Ezra Miller as The Flash and Michael Keaton as Batman in The Flash. Warner Bros Pictures / DC Comics

Next thing you know, Barry’s saved his mum, and created a new timeline where Eric Stoltz starred in Back to the Future. But on his return journey to the present, something knocks him off course, and he ends up sharing a reality with his goofy 18-year-old self, on the day of the event that gave him his powers.

Worse still, General Zod (Michael Shannon) shows up to kill all of humanity, just as he did in Man of Steel, but in this timeline there’s no Superman to stop him.

To use a “running” gag in the film itself, this is all nuts. But enjoyably so. The film is far from perfect, but under the assured direction of It helmer Andy Muschietti it’s an entertainingly bonkers piece of fluff with a consistent tone, memorable set pieces and inventive humour.

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The main worry from the pre-publicity and trailers was that it seemed to be simply aping Marvel’s various multiverses of madness; the two Barrys and the franchise-hopping reappearance of Micheal Keaton’s Batman felt like a rerun of Spider-Man: No Way Home or the Spider-Verse movies.

But while that issue remains, The Flash strives hard to provide a story and visuals that have something new to offer, so you don’t feel you’ve seen it all before. Largely, it succeeds.

This is finger buffet cinema, overstuffed with tempting delights, rather than a thoroughly enriching meal. It’s overlong, the script is barely more than a wire frame on which to hang ideas, and the ending collapses into a repetitive CGI slog. Many of the special effects feel oddly artificial and distancing – surreal rather than hyperreal – and not just the kaleidoscopic time travel effects.

However, it benefits from an endearing dual performance from Miller at its heart; the actor has had high-profile legal troubles in recent months, but on screen Barry Allen is a delight to watch. Keaton’s return is triumphant and Sasha Calle makes a memorable, if sadly underused, Supergirl. There are lots of geek in-jokes and unexpected cameos, including one surprising actor wearing the Superman cape at one point.

Despite some niggles, The Flash rates among the very best DC movies ever made.

The Flash hits cinemas on 16th June. If you're looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide or visit our Movies hub for all the latest news.

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