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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Action > Adventure > Science Fiction > Comedy > The Flash 4K (2023/DC Comics/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray)

The Flash 4K (2023/DC Comics/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray)

4K Ultra HD Picture: B+ Sound: B+ Extras: C+ Film: C+

In the 1930s, nine decades ago, the superhero genre in fiction and print comic strips and books had arrived, even if it was not as apparent at first. Along with The Shadow and The Phantom, Timely Comics (later Marvel) and DC Comics (the oldest publisher of comic books) soon had a line-up of similar characters and the first incarnation of The Flash was included. He was part of the Justice Society of America and looked like the mythical god Mercury. After comic books were attacked by the U.S. government in illicit appeals to parents and others, the superheroes still emerged and reemerged, stronger than ever.

In the mid-1950s, then DC editor Julius Schwartz decided their characters needed updated for the nuclear and space ages that had arrived post-WWII. They could not claim these pre-WWII heroes never aged either, so it was a huge relaunch. Along with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Hawkman and the others, the two biggest changes would be to Green Lantern and The Flash, in both costumes and back stories. In the case of The Flash, no one would ever mistake him for Mercury or even the mascot for a chain of florists, but now in a scientifically advanced red suit, he would be more ahead of his time than anyone could have imagined and this iteration is the one we have today.

So after two TV series, endless appearances in other DC stories in print, big and small screen and after almost every other major DC character got a feature film, it is hard to believe it took until 2023, six decades since he was relaunched, that he finally for a feature film. That is the lack of grasp and respect these characters still seem to have, no matter how much money they make.

Andy Muschetti's The Flash (2023) with Ezra Miller as the 'Scarlet Speedster' finally arrived with much hype and some people claiming (probably making a big mistake in the process) that this was 'the greatest superhero movie ever made' and this while several previous Marvel and DC superhero movies had tanked at the box office. Since that was the trend, saying the extreme opposite to gain great results was temping fate and the result was another big money loser. But is the film that bad?

It starts off well enough when Barry Allen (Miller) is his plain old working-class white-collar self, late for work and very, very hungry, an ongoing joke that the script does not get as much out of as it should. Just when his sandwich is as late as he is to get back to work, Alfred The Butler (Jeremy Irons, highly welcome back and not here enough, sadly) alters Barry of another crisis The Flash is needed to help with, as Batman (Ben Affleck) goes into action. It is then at only 8 minutes into the film that it jumps the shark, loses the audience, offers one of the worst sequences in any film I have ever seen and killed this film at the box office.

After that inane madness, we get back to the story when Barry is trying to help his falsely imprisoned father and still missing his late mother, decides that he should just forget about everything happening in his present period and use his superpowers to go so fast, he will travel back in time and save her. Scientifically minded, he has a solid plan, but of course, this will not go as well as planned.

From there, he makes it, meets a younger version of himself and starts to get to work. Too bad things keep unexpectedly creeping up that gets in the way of his plans, including a missing Superman, General Zod (Michael Shannon) showing up to take over earth and an immediate search for Batman to help him with another big surprise. The past he reaches turns out to be just an alternate universe (the film never realizes/addresses he'd only be saving his alternate mom and not the original he grew up with) and when he and his semi-twin get to the Wayne Mansion, it is empty, dead and strangely untaken care of.

Suddenly, they are attacked and it turns out to be Bruce Wayne, but one alone and drunk in his early 1970s (Michael Keaton) who has not been Batman for eons. His Alfred is long passed away and he's content to stay isolated and just forget about everything. Eventually, that slowly starts to change, but it is a nice twist.

I will not speak of any other plot developments because they would offer too many spoilers, but the time travel stretch of the plot is explained well enough, but the makers also do not get full mileage out of it and towards the end, there is a hideous sequence of multiple worlds colliding (DC Comics invented multiple earths to explain how more than one set of their superheroes could co-exist) and we get a CGI sequence of older (mostly deceased) actors showing up as their superhero characters over the decades that looks more like a bad, overpriced promo for home video releases than anything to do with the narrative whatsoever. Insultingly, I hope they got the rights from the actors and their estates to do this, but either way, they are rendered as waxy, horrid, CGI digital replicants from hell and is the kind of thing we've never seen in any other film franchise. If that early sequence did not kill the film for the paying audience, this one did!

As the film concludes, I was as disappointed as expected, yet it also was definite to me that they started with a much better screenplay and set of ideas before they got carried away with so much distraction, goofiness, silliness and short-sightedness. Miller is still a great actor when he gets a chance, despite his many endless scandals, for which he might finally be getting the help he should have looked for years ago. He does carry the film for as much of a film as is here. Ultimately though, it does not work as much as it should have.

The self-sabotage was more obvious when I looked at the Deleted Scenes. 95% of the last four scenes should have remained in the film, rights issues on some things notwithstanding, Keaton is in the film and is really good in it and they should have had a little more of him, the time travel parts should have been more well-rounded, the humor pulled back a bit, some new stronger scenes added for better synergy and 70% of the CGI should have never been produced. The director also could not divorce himself enough from his hit horror film past and that is why the film did so badly. Is it as horrid as Black Adam? No. Very little in cinema history is. Did it deserve to be the biggest bomb in Warner Bros. since Speed Racer? Not necessarily, especially because it did not stray from its source material anywhere as badly as that mess did. So what is the result?

If the changes I noted had happened and zero comments (especially grand, sweeping superlative ones) had been skipped by all involved, this really could have been another Spider-Man: No Way Home, but instead, we get a film with an insane number of ill-advised choices and more missed opportunities I have seen in a major commercial film in years. Too bad, because they were onto something that would have meant a box office comeback for DC after some real bad films and we got this instead. With this and Blue Beetle the end of this series of the DC Universe, we'll see if the reboots learn anything from this.

Now for playback performance. The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 1.90 X 1, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image used the Redcode RAW 8K Ultra HD camera and despite minor flaws and minor motion blur in little spots, looks good (save most of the CGI) and all have surprising good color and color consistency. This looks best when live action is in action. The lossless Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown for older systems) is not bad throughout, though some sound effects are overdone and you have more dialogue-based scenes than one might expect. The music sounds fine and when the sound kicks in, it is pretty good, but not in the upper tier of the best soundmixes out there for new big budget films. The combination is good, but OHHH that bad CGI!

Extras (per the press release) include:

  • 'The Flash: Escape the Midnight Circus' podcast: Six-part original scripted audio series featuring Max Greenfield as The Flash

  • The Flash: Escape the Midnight Circus Behind the Scenes

  • Deleted Scenes

  • Saving Supergirl featurette

  • The Bat Chase featurette

  • Battling Zod featurette

  • Fighting Dark Flash featurette

  • Making the Flash: Worlds Collide featurette

  • Let's Get Nuts: Batman Returns, Again featurette

  • Supergirl: Last Daughter of Krypton featurette

  • and Flashpoint: Introducing the Multiverse featurette

Of course, he has also turned up endless DC Comics and their related programs, like Justice League and the disappointing John Wesley Shipp series in the early 1990s (not John's fault) so we are also including links to other Flash releases on home video as follows:

Filmation Collection DVD (hope for a Blu-ray upgrade soon)


Grant Gustin TV series on Blu-ray; Season One












and LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: The Flash Blu-ray:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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