As the DCEU draws to a close, having never truly lived up to its source material potential or matched Marvel’s hit-rate, the penultimate film in its 10-year run serves as somewhat of a Justice League Light. Featuring relative newcomer Sasha Calle as Supergirl and Michael Keaton donning the iconic cowl 34 years later, it’s this quasi-team-up-movie formula where The Flash hits its stride.
At this point you may be suffering from multi-verse fatigue. In the past couple of years we’ve had more than one Spider-based dalliance with the parallel reality genre and who can forget Doctor Strange’s less-than-perfect solo outing in 2022 (though you may wish you could). The multi-verse is trendy right now and DC’s offering is not nearly as woful as many thought it would be.
Setting aside the Ezra Miller controversy and putting on the objectivity glasses for a moment, there’s a lot to be said for their performance as the lightning-quick, ever-snacking hero. Comic beats are well-timed and delivered, they bounce easily off Keaton and Calle and the two versions of Barry Allen we get feel distinct and well-defined. It’s clear why Miller was cast in the role and despite goings-on off-camera, their performance pins this film together. Keaton’s reprisal provides some welcome nostalgia and he’s clearly having fun in the role. The skeptics (myself included) may say that the Keaton pull was a cynical way to get butts on seats but I’m glad to say that his involvement felt justified and natural although I’m sure Keaton would be the first to say that no one, not even Bruce Wayne, is that flexilble at that age. Supergirl was a refreshing shift from Cavill as Superman. A younger, more hardened take on the Cryptonion but just as powerful and epic in nature and Calle does an excellent job with the limited screen-time offered. A particular fake ‘oner’ (single-take shot) on a prison rooftop is the action highlight of the film.
Unfortunately, the half-way point initiates the downturn and the multi-verse magic starts to lose its charm as the film gets bogged down in plot. Frustratingly, this feels entirely unnecessary as the story had been engaging from the jump without the idea of a ‘villain’ looming over the film. There was plenty of conflict and emotional heft without such a threat but as is tradition with these blockbusters, there always has to be a bad guy. The final battle has a few entertaining action sequences and everyone gets a moment to shine within it, but the climax is saturated with some shocking CGI (in both quality and aesthetic) and a contrived reveal lacks punch.
Ruling: A solid first half peppered with comedy and tenderness let down by a third act that amounts to little more than CGI soup.