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Review of ‘The Flash’ 4K Ultra HD Movie

DC Comics’ Scarlett Speedster finally got his own live-action movie this year only to hit a brick wall with unenthusiastic critics and fans and a lack of theater-goers.

The box office bomb looks to recruit some fresh home entertainment viewers with its release to the ultra-high definition disc format in The Flash (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, 1.90:1 aspect ratio, 144 minutes, $39.98).

An intriguing story offers an origin of the Flash aka Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) that also focuses on his meddling with the space-time continuum. It and was adapted from a famed sequential art crossover event from 2011 called Flashpoint.

Essentially, the hero can go back in time using the sheer force of speed to stop a family tragedy while accidentally altering the timeline, leading to potentially cataclysmic results. Never mess with the timeline, kiddies.

More specifically, the Flash is a member of the Justice League, buddies with Batman and handles some of the lesser important missions around the world but remains obsessed with clearing his dad for wrongly being convicted of killing his mother.

The Flash’s timeline alteration to save his mom works, but he ends up stuck in 2013 in a broken universe and now mentoring an 18-year-old version of himself.

Both must now find the heroes of that period including Batman (Michael Keaton returns as the Bat) and a missing Superman, replaced by Supergirl (Sasha Calle), to stop General Zod (Michael Shannon reprising his role) from destroying the earth to rebuild Krypton.

Before watching the bloated epic, I was forewarned about issues with the spotty visual effects, now overtly highlighted in the 4K format.

Examples include a baby about 11 minutes in that looks as fake as rubber, and Flash’s moments in the Chronobowl, where his Speed Force powers allow him to view and visit alternate versions of characters in the various timelines.

The bunch of computer-generated actors portraying the legends include Christopher Reeves and Henry Cavill as Superman, Helen Slater as Supergirl and Jason Momoa as Aquaman — all looking like inferior wax figures from Madame Tussauds.

Also head-shakable are some of the battle scenes, such as Batman fighting a large Kryptonian, an especially underwhelming scene that looks pulled from a decades-old 3D fighting video game.

The serviceable plot will make viewers forget some of the shoddy effects, but then, there is Miller.

Unfortunately, I found it impossible to divorce the accumulating destructive real-life actions of Miller from their heroic movie role. If I had never seen a news report about the actor and their chronic encounters with law enforcement, I might have warmed to their somewhat quirky and giddy portrayal much more.

Instead, “The Flash” could have had a better chance of success with an actor carrying less baggage, which has been argued by others as well as fans.

By far, The WB’s Grant Gustin would have been a better choice to represent the hero in the entire DC Comics cinematic universe, having served as the Flash for nine seasons on the well-received television show.

What’s also tragic is that the movie wastes the return of arguably the best movie Batman actor, a well-worn, greying Mr. Keaton. He does a great job of complementing the actors with a wry performance but really has little time to rebuild the emotional weight of his legendary character.

Equally tragic is the complete waste of Mr. Shannon, one of the best actors working today. He is regulated to a cash grab status, getting beaten on by Supergirl, beating up Supergirl and stuck in a visual effects’ exo-suit, always wearing that translucent helmet and with very little dialogue.

Ultimately viewers are left with a decent superhero movie, despite my gripes, packed with nostalgia, some big-budgeted battles and certainly worthy of a rental if just for DC Comics’ movie fans to see Mr. Keaton back in the batsuit.

4K in action: Whatever might be missing from the plot gets made up for in the stellar 2160p transfer from a 4K digital intermediate presented no less in the IMAX aspect ratio that fills the screen with the Flash’s electrifying and colorful hijinks.

By far, the running effects shine in every scene as high dynamic range enhancements allow for the tendrils of electricity generated as Barry runs to overwhelm with rich, dynamic colors and pointed detail.

A scene in which two Barrys get struck by blue lightning bolts in slow motion truly stands out and is worthy of inspection as glass shatters and neon-colored chemicals spill toward the glowing victims.

An even more overwhelming hue saturation can be found in the Chronobowl as swirling bursts of neon blues, reds, pinks, purples and oranges saturate the screen as timeline orbs collide and surround the Barrys as they argue over how to solve their time crisis.

The reference quality crispness of the 4K presentation can also be seen in the impeccably designed superhero costumes including the textures of the Flash’s red patterned, circuited bodysuit with glowing yellow metallic logo, Batman’s leather suit, cape and rubbery cowl, Supergirl’s flowing red cape with metallic red and silver Kryptonian emblem.

Perhaps a moment to most remember is Barry and Supergirl hovering above the Earth in a lightning storm, a scene delivering a mixture of all the imagery enhancements that are great about the movie’s visual experience.

Best extras: Warner Bros. allows fans to dive into the making of the film and its heroic stars through a welcomed collection of retrospectives and featurettes.

Making up for the lack of director Andy Muschietti optional commentary track is a nearly 40-minute-long production diary covering some key moments from the 121-day shoot (starting on March 12, 2021).

Often explained by Mr. Muschietti, the segment also features moments with the key cast and crew touching on costuming, building the batcave, Miller’s dual performance and some hijinks on the set.

Even better, viewers get an immersive, 38-minute fact-packed exploration of the Flash in sequential art and multimedia starring his architects.

Key creators that shaped the Flash’s life and chronicled his adventures over the last 80 years help explain his history including Mark Waid, Jim Krieg, Geoff Johns, Jeph Loeb, Francis Manapul, Jeremy Adams, Grant Morrison, Carmine Infantino, Jim Lee, Marv Wolfman and even the venerable builder of DC’s Silver Age of comics Julius Schwartz.

Others offering insight include former DC Comics’ executive and pop art historian Paul Levitz; “The Flash” TV show’s co-creator Greg Berlanti and actors John Wesley Shipp and Grant Gustin; “Justice League” director Zack Snyder; and DC Entertainment’s animation patriarch Bruce Timm.

The segment features a variety of comic art plucked from the Golden and Silver Age as well as current titles highlighting artisans such as Mr. Infantino, Harry Lampert, Andy Kubert, Mr. Lee, Jackson Guice, Ethan Van Sciver and Brian Augustyn.

Suffice it to report, DC Comics’ has pulled out some of the greats to discuss the importance of the Flash in sequential art and the segment could have been twice as long.

While on the topic of too short, Supergirl also gets a spotlight with many of the above creators piping in (only 16 minutes long) on her history that also includes words from the live-action actresses that played her: Melissa Benoist, Laura Vandervoort, Miss Calle and Miss Slater.

Viewers also get deconstructions of four action scenes (roughly 26 minutes in total) covering Supergirl’s Siberian rescue, the batcycle chase in Gotham, Zod’s desert battle and the final fight.

Additionally, listeners get the original six-part podcast from Apple called “The Flash: Escape the Midnight Circus” (96 minutes total) offering the story of our hero having relationship issues and, once again, using the Speed Force to go back in time to make things right and leading to some hard-core, other dimension life-or-death challenges. When will Barry learn?

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