The Flash (2023) Blu-ray Review: You Can’t Go Home Again

Andy Muschietti’s The Flash (2023) is the 13th installment of the DCEU. The franchise gets an amusing but disjointed, multiverse mix-up when Barry Allen / The Flash (Ezra Miller) breaks the universe as he knows it after he travels into the past to save his parents in yet another adaptation of the comic book storyline “Flashpoint” by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert.

Forensic scientist Barry is working to save his father, Henry, from being wrongly found guilty for the murder of his mother, Nora. When that fails, and against the advice of Bruce Wayne / Batman (Ben Affleck), Barry uses his superspeed to enter the Speed Force to time travel in order to prevent his mother’s death. During his return back to his present, he is tripped up and lands in a different version of 2013 where that Barry (also Miller, who does a very good job acting multiple versions of the character and making them distinct) has not become the Flash yet.

As coincidence would have it, Barry has arrived on the day past-Barry gets his powers, but the same freak accident causes Barry to lose his. As Barry trains past-Barry, they learn that General Zod (Michael Shannon) from Man of Steel has come to Earth. Barry explains that Zod is looking for Kal-El / Superman, but past-Barry hasn’t heard of him. Barry seeks the Justice League to stop Zod, but can only find Batman. However, at Wayne Manor, Bruce is an older man (Michael Keaton from Tim Burton’s Batman) who has given up the cowl. He comes out of retirement to help the Barrys rescue Superman from his Siberian prison, only they find cousin Kara Zor-El / Supergirl (Sasha Calle).

With the help of Bruce and Kara, Barry gets his powers back. This new Justice League battles Zod and his Kryptonian forces, but when the heroes lose the battle, both Barrys enter the Speed Force to go back in time to fight the battle again, yet with the same results. Barry realizes they can’t change what took place and he needs to go back and fix what he changed, which means their mother must die. Before anything can happen, another speedster makes his presence known in the Speed Force. He has also been trying to fix what went wrong, and is completely indifferent as they witness other timelines being destroyed in the process. In the end, both Barry and past-Barry make heroic choices. Barry returns to his timeline and finds things as he left them…almost.

It sounds strange, but multiverses are becoming old hat in popular culture. Long used in comic books, audiences have recently seen them in both live-action and animated Spider-Man movies, TV’s Arrowverse, and even an Academy Award Best Picture Winner in Everything Everywhere All at Once, so it was inevitable the DC movies would make a go of it, which they did to varied results. The multiple Barrys worked well not only because of Miller’s performances but how screenwriter Christina Hodson crafted their relationship and interaction.

As someone who was there on opening weekend in 1989, it was an absolute blast to see Michael Keaton back as the Batman and to hear snippets of Danny Elfman’s score, but the decision to use the iconic “you wanna get nuts?” line was a poor choice because it is wink to the fans that doesn’t make sense within the scene. Also not making sense is the explanation of how Barry changed time before the event he altered. They needed a better explanation how Keaton’s Batman got into this universe.

Bowing to fan service also diminishes the Worlds Colliding sequence as the audience sees digital recreations of actors from other DC movies and TV shows that don’t look realistic and come off like cut scenes from a video game. Would have been better to have used clips from those movies and shows. Unfortunately, all the other humans seen within the Speed Force, including the babies in the rescue sequence, look like unfinished CGI, especially when next to real people. I have grown up with poor special effects in different mediums so it doesn’t bother me too much, but I understand the complaint as the incongruity is disorientating.

The video has given a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer displayed at the original aspect ratio of 1.90:1. Colors pop off the screen in vibrant hues. Blacks are inky and whites are accurate, allowing for a strong contrast. The image presents depth and fine texture details on costumes, props, and locations. Aside from the aforementioned CGI weirdness withing the Speed Force, the visual effects look quite good as the illusion of two Barrys and the Flashes in action impress during the entire movie.

The Dolby Atmos defaults down to Dolby TrueHD 7.1. Although I had to raise the volume from my normal setting, the audio delivers a quality experience. Dialogue is consistently clear. The effects immerse the listener with objects positioned about the soundfield that cross channels to match the visuals. The score fills the surround system. The subwoofer delivers solid bass support for the effects and music, but as loud as things get, the sound never overpowers the speakers.

The Special Features are:

  • Making The Flash: Worlds Collide (37 min) – a behind the scenes look at how the movie was made.
  • Let’s Get Nuts: Batman Returns, Again! (9 min) – Reflecting on the return of Michael Keaton to the role. Would have been nice if he had spoken in this featurette.
  • Supergirl: The Last Daughter of Krypton (16 min) – An extra about the character from a video release of the TV show with details about The Flash‘s Supergirl added.
  • The Flash: Escape the Midnight Circus (audio, 94 minutes) is an original scripted, six-part podcast story starring Max Greenfiled as The Flash. There’s a trailer (audio, 1 min) and making of (2 min).

Although it has script problems and FX issues, I enjoyed The Flash. It contains good humor, great action, and amidst all the comic book cacophony, there is a thoughtful story within about a young man overcoming his grief over losing a parent and learning to move on in life with that burden. The high-definition presentation accentuates what works well.

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Gordon S. Miller

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of this site.

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