The Flash (2023) [Blu-Ray/Digital]

“The Flash” could have and should have been this sleek, exciting, action adventure science fiction film that chronicled what is still a very appealing superhero for the modern age. Instead, with Warner Bros. help, “The Flash” is transformed in to a silly, campy, overlong chore that spends much more time on fan service than it does building an interesting character. Although The Flash is still a popular character with comic book fans, “The Flash” should have had broader appeal and a better grasp of its subject matter. Instead Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of the scarlet speedster feels like a goofy riff on “Back to the Future” time and time again.

Worlds collide when the Flash uses his superpowers to travel back in time to change the events of the past. However, when his attempt to save his family inadvertently alters the future, he becomes trapped in a reality in which General Zod has returned, threatening annihilation. With no other superheroes to turn to, the Flash looks to coax a very different Batman out of retirement and rescue an imprisoned Kryptonian — albeit not the one he’s looking for.

At this point Warner and DC Studios don’t really have too much to lose, and “The Flash” enters and leaves us with that exact mind set. Too often the writers seem to be throwing things at a wall to see what sticks, and stuff that doesn’t is sadly there on film. Whether it’s badly animated falling babies, poorly done CGI featuring alternate world versions of Superman, that ridiculous final scene, and the inherent lack of a super villain, it’s so much more a miss than a hit. You could argue that Zod is the villain of the film, but he’s so much more of a victim of circumstance who also feels like a riff, but on “Avengers: Endgame.” Zod is back as a glorified plot device, and Supergirl is nothing but an under cooked side character.

Batman, despite his accumulated run time of what feels like fifteen minutes total, completely steals the movie away from everyone during what also feels like cheap fan service. When all is said and done, this isn’t Tim Burton’s Batman as we know him from 1989 but an alternate version of Batman that’s—kind of Tim Burton’s Batman–? I don’t know and frankly I didn’t care enough to dig in to it too much. Again, all of it seems to be throwing in what ever they think might work with no real attention paid to much of anything. The script doesn’t even work toward making The Flash and Barry Allen likable characters, which is sad.

Too often Barry is obnoxious, loud, kind of stupid, just impossible to root for. Even when “The Flash” stops to get serious for a moment, the movie is too obsessed with being quippy and clever to help us soak in the emotional turmoil Barry should be enduring. No matter what argument you can make for “The Flash” crashing and burning critically and commercially, I imagine it will be a movie analyzed for years as a disasterpiece. The Flash deserved better. Superman deserved better. Batman deserved better. Michael Keaton, and Michael Shannon deserved better.

Christopher Reeve certainly deserved a hell of a lot better.

Sadly, none of the alternate and original endings for “The Flash” are included in the Blu-Ray or 4K Blu-Ray editions, so fans of the film are plumb out of luck. As well, the Blu-Ray garners significantly less features for fans than the 4K Blu-Ray does. So the fans that are very engrossed in the development process and the filming difficulties will want to opt for the 4K Blu-Ray. The “Target Exclusive” that’s always sought after also lacks the 4K Blu-Ray and only comes in Blu-Ray with a Digital Code.

Included on the Blu-Ray/Digital combo, there’s “Making the Flash: Worlds Collide,” a thirty five minutes segment showing the challenges of making the film especially during the COVID lock down. “Let’s Get Nuts: Batman Returns, Again” is a featurette about Michael Keaton’s triumphant return to the mantle of Batman, something pretty much everyone knew, “Supergirl: Last Daughter of Krypton” is a segment about the history of the Supergirl character, her origins rooted in the multi verse, et al. “Flashpoint: Introducing the Multiverse” is a six minutes look in to the “elseworlds” alternate universe concept that has become popular in the DC universe since the eighties, as well as a refresher on the DCEU.

There’s “The Flash: Escape the Midnight Circus” podcast, a six-part original scripted audio series featuring Max Greenfield as The Flash; episodes include “Blackout,” “Fully Torqued,” “Cyclotron Don,” et al. Finally we’re given a Behind the Scenes look at the making of “The Flash: Escape from the Midnight Circus” podcast as well as the trailer for the podcast.

Consumers also get a redeemable Digital Code for “The Flash.”