Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Better Late Than Never? The Flash Movie

I had planned to see The Flash movie when it was in the theaters but sometimes life gets in the way. 

Now on streaming, I finally got to see it. I'd give it a C. Given that this is now a 4 month old movie, I won't do an in-depth review.  I'll just touch on the stuff that truly struck out and concentrate a little on the Supergirl side of things. As it is 4 months old, there will be spoilers.

This was a pretty solid adaptation of the Flashpoint mini-series. From Barry trying to save his mother to his lacking powers and needing to recreate the accident that gave him powers, to a Project Superman take on Supergirl, this was Flashpoint. I didn't particularly like that mini when it came out but if you did, this was sort of faithful. 

This was also a sort of love letter, or homage-fest, to comic fans and fans of superhero movies. Michael Keaton recreating his Batman, saying 'let's get nuts', and seeing that Wayne Manor again was fun. Seeing all the cameos at the end was fun (more on that later). But those things were really for people like me. My girlfriend didn't know who the helmeted Flash was or why I was giggling so much about the Thanagarian snare beast. So I don't know if so much time should have been placed on these things which only 1% of the ticket holders would cherish.

But the big thing for me is that this movie seems a bit disjointed in tone. 

There is a very heavy undertone about Barry's sadness about his mother. There is a 'how far would you go' theme. Would you destroy the universe to make your own world perfect or do you sacrifice happiness for the greater good? Seeing older Barry (who has seen things and matured) deal with younger, more naive Barry touches on loss and sadness. And yet, stuck inside this, is a bunch of silliness. Barry eating burritos at super-speed, putting babies in microwaves to save them, losing a tooth and super-gluing it.

If you are a script writer or a director, you have to be masterful if you are going to walk the fine line between goofy humor and heavy themes. And this movie can't pull it off. It is the same reason while Thor Love and Thunder failed for me. You can't effectively have Thor dealing with Jane Foster's mortality while a god killer kidnaps kids all while you have silly humor all around. Or you can if you are a master.

Lastly, the special effects at times looked pretty wonky. Seeing babies which look like they were ripped from The Incredibles definitely snapped me out of the movie.

Supergirl is in this and I'll have more below the break. But I thought Sasha Calle did a very good job as this Kara, the captured, tortured, angry Supergirl trying to figure out what the heck is going on. Having to recognize that General Zod is a Kryptonian but not what she wants to be or want to defend. 

So, it's a C. My guess is I won't seek this out again. But if it is on TV and I am home, I'll probably put it on to watch.

On to some details.

Putting aside the changes in tone, I did like the two Flashes in the movie. In the 'main Earth', Barry is always the goofy one next to such heroes as Affleck's Batman and Momoa's Aquaman. So seeing him as the 'serious one' next to his goofy brother was a fun little wrinkle.

As I said, lots of Easter Eggs.

I mean, how can I not like, even if it is a bit Uncanny Valley, seeing Helen Slater's Supergirl standing next to Christopher Reeve's Superman. We got a helmeted Earth 2 Flash on George Reeves' Superman world. And, of course, the deep cut of Nicholas Cage Superman fighting a giant spider. 

These are candy for me.

On to Supergirl.

This is a Snyder-verse movie. So yes, Supergirl is going to come out of her torture cell angry. There is no doubt she kills any number of Soviet troops as she lashes out against her captors. 

Now I was one of the most vocal people when Man of Steel came out, so angry at Superman killing. It ruined that film. I can deal with these killings a bit better. First off, this is a Kara who has been imprisoned and tortured. Who knows what they have done to her. She was raised on Krypton. She doesn't have Kent wisdom in her. And she's not used to having powers. So I am a bit more forgiving if in the immediate time after he rescue, she lashes out.

I mean this is an Elseworlds.

But I really loved Sasha Calle's quiet dignity and strength as Supergirl.

She was mistreated by some humans but she knows the brutal Zod isn't who she is. Her family crest means Hope. She is a good person. She is fierce in fighting injustice. 

I will always prefer a blond Supergirl; I'm a traditionalist. But I saw a lot of what I think Supergirl is as a character in this portrayal.

I loved that she turned on Zod, recognizing him for what he was. 

But it is a plot point that Kara's death is one of the immutable events of this timeline. With Barry trying to save everyone temporally, we are subjected to see Supergirl die over and over on screen.

For old school Kara fans, still smarting maybe from Crisis on Infinite Earths #7, seeing Supergirl repeatedly killed isn't easy to watch.

But it did make me think. Why was Supergirl inserted here? Why not have the emaciated Superman from Project Superman in the movie? Why change the story?

Is it because they didn't want to have a Superman killed over and over on screen? Is it that Supergirl, as a property, is easier to show being slaughtered than Kal? Even on this alternate Earth?

As a Supergirl fan, it made me wonder if that 'she's expendable' tag is still on her. The story didn't need it to be Kara. It could have been Kal.

Thanks for those still here reading my thoughts on a movie in the rear view mirror of so many.

If you get the DVD, there is a very good documentary on the Supergirl character. We hear from Helen Slater, Laura Vandervoort, Sasha Calle, and Melissa Benoist, all of whom talk about their particular take on the character, all showing what a great character she is. In particular, Benoist really shows how much she understood Kara, even throwing in the motto 'hope, help, and compassion for all' which I think is just wonderful.

As interesting is the cavalcade of comic creators they bring on board and to hear the subtle differences. Jim Lee and Jeph Loeb talk about how they had to differentiate her from Kal by making her edgy. Sterling Gates and Geoff Johns and even Marv Wolfman all talk glowingly about her. In fact, Wolfman brings up a Supergirl scene in Crisis on Infinite Earths #4 and says it is the most important scene in the whole series! 

If you look in the usual places, you can find this on-line. Definitely worth a watch.

I'd love to hear what you all thought.


Anonymous said...

Apparently, I'm much more a fan of this than you are.
I've re-watched it at least a dozen times on DVD.
I'm quite confused about the multiverse at the end.
I hope a comic version appears later on, to more
explain what I see.
I also like the new Flashpoint adaptation of the 2013
animated movie, again, more explaining what I see.
Oh well, to each their own.

SG Fan said...


Cool to see your thoughts on the film and especially Supergirl in general. I remembered when they were first announcing Supergirl being in the movie, I presumed she was going to be a version of like Lois/Clark's daughter from some timeline/universe since that multiverse stuff is where the Flash/Flashpoint movie was going. So I was very surprised when it was confirmed she was Kara Zor-El. Thankfully though, I think Sasha did an excellent job as Supergirl/Kara. She's bitter at first being captive and god knows what, and it's completely understandable. However, as you said, she shows her true nature as she could easily have let her one impression of humanity, be her only one. Thus Kara standing against Zod, and her kicking his ass after she finds out what he did to that timeline/universes Kal-El, awesome.

My main complaint is I wish there had been more of her. Maybe a scene between when she leaves Wayne Manor and seeing Zod, where she saves someone and has her bitter view of humanity challenged, but as they describe it in the film it works for her. Some truly great shots of her in the movie, looking stunning in the costume.

My biggest gripe is yours, casting a great actress to play her, making her look amazing and a nice take on the watch her get killed a bunch of times. And even more insulting, the original ending of this was to show Keaton's Batman/Bruce and Sasha alive in the second version of the timeline. Prob not 'exactly' the same as who there in the film, but you'd been like, 'oh cool Supergirl is still around' except...nope! Here's a dumb cameo with George Clooney cause James Gunn thought that'd be funny.

Frak you.

Overall, the film is OK not great. While Erza 'the largest elephant in the room' Miller was good as 'older Barry' the 'other Barry' grated on me a lot. I know on purpose but, yeah my second rewatch he bugged me a lot more. I'll give props to Miller that the scene at the end with Barry Mom was well done. Yet as you said, the conflicting tone in this movie was a bit whiplash inducing at times. Plus, like who at WB thought he 'counseling' joke with Barry there should have been left in the movie, with EVERYTHING that happened with their 'star?'

Last thing is, I both do and don't hope Sasha can play Kara again. One, cause I thought she was very good and I'd love to see more of her Kara and Supergirl. However, if that is going to be via 'Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow' written by....ugh Tom King...then, unless we're going to get one of those, the adaptation is WAY better than the original, than I kind of don't want her to become that bad version of Kara. Again, a lot of this is up in the air as we don't know what the future DC stuff is going to look like, and the Writers only just ended their strike, and the actors are still on the picket line (and should be till they get a fair deal. Yes, as nice as it was to see Chris and Helen there know some hollywood douche is saying 'hey lets make an all AI film with dead actors! So, reigning in the AI-stuff is probably a good idea).

Good review Anj, sorry for these longer thoughts but hope you enjoy them.

Anonymous said...

I believe the Supergirl documentary from the DVD/Bluray is also available on YouTube:

Stephen M said...

I liked the Supergirl/Zod fight because it just felt so alien.
It wasn't like that in the first Superman film because you had hours of backstory and build up, but this was so dramatic and sudden.
It was like she knew the danger that Zod posed humanity and she jumped right in to save a bunch of strangers ( who hadn't treated her her well) because that's just who she was. No matter how many times she died.
Not as much time as I would have liked, but a very important part of the film. Gone are the days when no one even knows who Supergirl is.

Anj said...

Thanks everyone for the comments.

It is a hard movie for me to wrap around in my head. I thought Miller did a fine job with his two roles. I liked the ending for the dad.

It is still that odd mix of silliness and seriousness that felt a little odd.

And seeing Supergirl killed endlessly never seems right.

Anonymous said...

Basically they stuffed Supergirl into a multimillion dollar refridgerator all to make Barry's damn storyline more compelling, and then they did it again roughly a dozen times. "Kara Cannon Fodder Zor El" anyone?
But I maintained from the git-go that one's reaction to "The Flash" tracks perfectly with one's enthusiasm or at least toleration for watching Ezra Miller Talk to Himself for Over Two Hours...the movie's box office returns pretty much answer that question quite succintly...
In short I didn't like it, some constituent parts I enjoyed (Keaton, Reeve and Slater's respective cameos and swan songs were all very nice) were good, but it was a hard film to defend and will get harder still as time goes on...
Sadly I doubt we will see Sasha Calle OR Ezra Miller in either role ever again, Miller because well...lets face it he is as crazy as a bedbug and Calle because DC is trebling down on Bad Supergirl Decisions with the notional "Woman of Tomorrow" feature (Who knows if it will ever get lensed though? I got a cold feeling in my tummy that Zaslov's crew are on short time down in Burbank). I just don't think Sasha figures into their plans quite frankly, I wish her well in all her future endeavors, she had a thankless job and she bore up remarkably well given the situation.


Anonymous said...

I still feel that the reason why they used supergirl and not Superman is because they needed to have at least one major female character in the film. The same thing happened with Cyclone in Black Adam.

They tried to give Sasha something to work with and she did the best she could with it. At least that's better than what the Cyclone actress got. Lets hope James Gunn's era is better

SOE said...

I too streamed this movie. I don’t think many people actually saw this on the big screen given the lackluster box office. The movie was a jumbled mess. I personally couldn’t stand Miller’s performance in either of the Barrys. They were both annoying and it just didn’t hit for me. The first act with the CGI fest babies just took me out of the film. I felt the movie recaptured my attention when Batman and Supergirl showed up.

I thought Sasha Calle did good with what she had and depicted Kara well given the treacherous circumstances she was placed in. Wish there would have been more screen time with her.

The whole killing of Supergirl over and over reeks of fridging and was a distasteful choice. I get it. This is one of those timelines you can’t change and this universe is doomed but I felt a better creative decision could have been made here. Heck, you also have a version of Batman in this same story and you don’t see him getting offed several times. Instead, you see the female, person of color character being killed multiple times. If you look at it in this context it’s even worse. Just my opinion.

It would have been nice to see an end credit scene where both Supergirl and Batman are thriving in some other universe.There doesn’t need to be a followup but at least we know there’s some version of these characters that exist elsewhere. At least it would be a nice palate cleanser.

If there was anything good that came out of the movie it was indeed the Supergirl short documentary. It was nice seeing the comic creators talk about the character. But the actresses who have portrayed her throughout the years really shine here and you can see how each of them revere Supergirl. I feel all of them got the essence and spirit of who Kara is. Nicholle Tom who voiced Supergirl in the DC animated universe is also featured and I enjoyed hearing how she brought more spunkiness to the character. Of course, it’s always wonderful to see Melissa Benoist talk about Supergirl. Not only does she drop the “Hope, Help and Compassion for All” motto. She says that Supergirl is a character that can inspire other people to believe that they have the strength to do great things. What a great way to end that documentary!

Sorry for the long comment but thanks for letting us have a place to share our thoughts.