Central City forensic investigator Barry Allen is, always charming and - as a result of a scientific experiment gone awry - now the fastest man alive! He's The Flash, zigzagging through the action-packed new series from the creative team behind Arrow and based on the supersonic DC Comics character. With his life shadowed by his mother's murder and his father wrongly convicted of the crime, Barry finds that his newfound power of super speed grants him the ability to move through Central City like an unseen guardian angel. Barry quickly discovers he's not the only "metahuman" created by the explosive disaster - and not everyone is using their new powers for good. Now, to protect the innocent, Barry and his close friends who know his secret, race to combat evildoers in one astonishing adventure after another. (from Warner Bros.)
Thanks to the success of DC and Warner Bros. small screen adventure series, Arrow (based on the super hero Green Arrow), DC has decided to bring another hero to the television set in The Flash. While Arrow has grittiness to it and DC's other new show, Gotham, is even more adult, The Flash is probably a bit "tamer" in comparison. Based around a forensics investigator who is struck by lightning the night a particle accelerator experiment at a nearby lab explodes, The Flash sees an ordinary, good-hearted 25-year-old becoming something impossible. Now endowed with super speed, Barry Allen is the fasted man alive... but he's in for a wild ride as he and his new friends at S.T.A.R. Labs decide to stop other extraordinary humans that were also affected by the explosion that one fateful night.
To get a feel for The Flash, comparing it to Arrow is a fair move, especially since Barry actually got his introduction on Season Two of Arrow before getting his own show entirely. Arrow centers on a vigilante who started out killing bad guys in his city before trying to be more of a hero. The Flash is more about a young man who's decided to use his newfound powers for good right from the start, all while trying to figure out where he fits in the world and, most of all, who murdered his mother when he was a kid. The latter plot element is probably the darkest aspect of the show, but it adds some mystery to it--which is almost eclipsed by the equally interesting and ambiguous nature of Tom Cavanagh's sneaky Dr. Wells.
Grant Gustin steps in as Barry Allen / The Flash and he helps make Barry really relatable and someone to root for. Gustin clearly has a lot of fun in the role and it shines through Barry. Carlos Valdes's tech geek Cisco (who's kind of like a geekier Q in the James Bond series) adds an even greater lightness to the proceedings as someone who is just enjoying every second of what's happening around them. Then Jesse L. Martin as Detective Joe West, who helped raise Barry after his mother was murdered and dad was imprisoned, is just so darn likeable as a mentor for Barry. In the series opener, when he harshly tells Barry to come back to reality and accept the fact that his dad murdered his mom and there's no other possibility, it starts to feel like another dysfunctional TV father/son thing. But when Joe witnesses The Flash in action, and sees that it's Barry, before the episode even ends, this relationship is transformed into something really special and endearing. It ends up being a breath of fresh air to see a different, supportive family dynamic like this one, and it's one of the show's strongest traits. To round out the cast is Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow, Rick Cosnett as Eddie Thawne and Candice Patton as Joe's daughter Iris and the object of Barry's pinings. Unfortunately, of the bunch, even until the end of the season, I just never warmed up to Iris. In the same way that Felicity seems a bit mismatched for Oliver on Arrow but perfect for Barry, it's hard to buy any kind of chemistry between Iris and Barry. I don't know if Candice just isn't right for the part or maybe the writers aren't sure how to write for her, but she just seems altogether too bland and boring, especially with more charismatic characters around her.
But because Season 1 has us witnessing the birth of Barry as The Flash, we have a full 23 episodes to see Barry come into his own (as opposed to a two-hour origin story in a movie, like Batman Begins). And the makers of The Flash craft it into a fun and enjoyable ride. Seeing Barry discover if he can run up a wall in "Plastique" and then later run across water is just great fun. In "The Flash Is Born," he gets to try out a "supersonic punch," much to Cisco's elation. "Flash vs. Arrow" finds Starling City's hero giving tips to Central City's newcomer, and things just keep escalating on the super villain front as more "meta-humans" come crawling out of the woodwork and Barry must find a way to stop them. "The Man in the Yellow Suit" also revs up the mystery of who killed Barry's mom and sets things in motion for the rest of the season that is pretty exciting. And I have to say, the last few episodes just really up the ante. Everything concludes in a way where not everyone makes it out alive and things get even more sci-fi as we head into Season 2.
The meta-humans plot device of creating villains for The Flash to face-off against is kind of interesting; we're not just dealing with common criminals. At times, it feels a little too unoriginal since we've seen a half-a-dozen X-Men films by now from Marvel (not to mention cartoon shows and comic books). And "meta-humans" are pretty much just X-Men mutants who weren't born that way but were accidentally created by the particle accelerator. Yet, since Barry was in a coma for 9 months, it seems really odd that all of the meta-humans start coming out only after Barry has awoken and started training to be The Flash. There isn't really an explanation for that, to my memory, and it just becomes something we can't think about too much. Also, not all of the villains are meta-humans, and as the show runners try to work in classic Flash comic book villains, not all of them work as well, with Captain Cold being a good example. Captain Cold is really just a thug with goggles and a parka who stole a S.T.A.R. Labs freeze ray, and while he may be a popular comic book villain, he's one of the corniest villains in the show--and I don't think the overacting from Wentworth Miller helps either. The villain of The Trickster in "Tricksters" is played quite over-the-top by Star Wars' Mark Hamill, as he reprises his role from the old 1990s Flash TV series. But while The Trickster doesn't really fit in with the feel of this new series, I have to say it's just really fun to see Hamill in a role like this.
The content of The Flash, while lighter than Arrow (and especially Gotham), can still be edgy at times. Barry gets bloodied up from time to time, we see a gruesome face transformation in "Tricksters," a device get pulled from a blood wound in close-up in "Plastique," we see a charred corpse and a bloody wound on an officer shot (which the villain dips his fingers into to write on the victim's forehead) in "Power Outage," the crew dig up a carcass later on in the season, and we see various characters getting shot at different times, with varying bloody results (including in the season finale). The language is mild, but you can expect to hear the occasional "h*ll," "d*mn" and "*ss" to some degree from episode to episode. Sexual content is infrequent if anything, but there's at least one moment where things get pretty racy between Barry and Linda Park, but he realizes they can't take things further because of his speedy heart rate. There's also some mature related themes, like characters moving in together unmarried, for example, that seem unnecessary for a show that could be more family friendly.
Overall, I've really enjoyed The Flash and am excited to see where the show goes from here. If you like the superhero already from the comics, you definitely should check out the show. It's a season that kept improving as it progressed and it left me really looking forward to the next chapter.- John DiBiase (reviewed: 9/20/15)
Behind the Story: The Trickster Returns! (8:39) - Mark Hamill and original Flash in the 90s TV series, John Wesley Shipp, talk about the old show and the new one, while Hamill addresses his return to the character. This is a fun one to watch.
The Fastest Man Alive! (30:39) - This first, extensive featurette is about the creation of the show, Barry's character, and what the comic series was like. The producers and writers express what a dream come true it is to be able to make this show a reality.
Creating The Blur: The VFX of The Flash: (26:25) talks about the scale of the effects on the show and how important it is to get them to look great in this day in age. They address how the scale is on par with theatrical films and how difficult it is to get those kinds of effects made in a limited amount of time on their production schedule. This featurette also talks about the stunts in the show and gives us some effects passes to show how a given scene (like the big trainwreck in the fourth episode) comes together.
The Chemistry of Emily and Grant On-Screen Test (4:20) - Here we see screen tests on Arrow where they tested to see the chemistry between Grant's Barry and Emily's Felicity. It was also a test to see if Grant, as Barry, could carry his own show.
DC Comics Night at Comic-Con 2014: Presenting Gotham, The Flash, Constantine and Arrow (29:31) - This epic assembly at Comic-Con 2014 unites the casts from four of DC's TV shows, and we hear interviews and comments from the actors on all four shows. I imagine that the Season 2 release for The Flash would have its own panel.
Gag Reel (8:24) - The gag reel for The Flash is a lot like the one for Arrow and includes a lot of lines being messed up and some stuff going wrong on the set, etc. As such, there are quite a few bleeped-out F words too. But my favorite moment from the gag reel is at the end when, while filming on location at night, Grant--suited up as The Flash--tells a passerby who's on the phone, "Tell your friend The Flash says 'Hi!'" Caught off guard, the man on the phone asks, "What movie are you shooting?" to which Grant spreads his arms and shouts, "THE FLASH!"
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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