Review: THE FLASH S1E1 “City of Heroes” (2014)

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From the Arrow creative team of executive producers Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg and director David Nutter, THE FLASH is a fast-paced super hero drama that follows the high-speed adventures of the Fastest Man Alive. Written by Berlanti, Kreisberg and DC Entertainment’s Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, the action drama follows Central City Police scientist Barry Allen, an everyday guy with the heart of a hero and the genuine desire to help others. Standing still emotionally since the day his mother was murdered (and his father unjustly jailed for the crime), Barry was taken in as a child by the investigating Detective West and raised in a cop’s home alongside West’s supersmart daughter (and Barry’s dream girl) Iris. But when an unexpected and devastating accident at the S.T.A.R. Labs Particle Accelerator facility strikes Barry, he finds himself suddenly charged with the incredible power to move at super speeds.

One of the most highly anticipated new television shows of 2014 is undoubtedly The Flash, which opens up a new side of the universe created by Arrow. After headlining his own series in 1990, Warner Bros. had worked on bringing the Fastest Man Alive to the big screen, but his next live action presence will once again be on television. However, it’s hard not to feel excited about this series. Barry Allen was introduced in two episodes of Arrow‘s second season, with the accident which gives him his powers taking place in the second. Two Flash supporting characters, Caitlin Snow and Cisco Ramon, also made their appearance on Arrow before being series regular roles in the spin-off. While Arrow has almost always focused on grounded and realistic stories, The Flash introduces superpowers and “metahumans” into this world. So, how does the hotly anticipated pilot fare?

Fortunately, while some television shows struggle in their very first episode, The Flash knocks it out of the park right away. The pilot boasts some impressive visual effects for a CW production, and seeing the Scarlet Speedster do his thing in a modern live action setting will undoubtedly cause fans to geek out. Flash’s costume is pretty great; while it isn’t perfect and makes some noticeable changes from the classic iteration, it is still an impressive live action transition. Blake Neely’s score fits perfectly, while the writing and storyline is solid.

While The CW is generally not known for high quality acting, The Flash contains some some solid performances. Grant Gustin shines as the likable Barry Allen, and not unlike Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, you can totally buy the Glee actor in the iconic role. It will be interesting to see how he grows into the part as the series goes on. Candice Patton is equally charismatic as Barry’s childhood friend, Iris West, and she and Gustin share some entertaining chemistry. Rick Cosnett is decent as Eddie Thawne, while Jesse Martin fits the role of Detective Joe West like a glove. Carlos Valdes’ Cisco Ramon is a rather bright character, and Tom Cavanagh is solid as STAR Labs’ Harrison Wells. However, I found Danielle Panabaker’s Caitlin Snow to be a bit dull. Her lack of emotion for most of the episode is explained, but here, she doesn’t come across as a particularly likable character. Hopefully, she will become more engaging in future episodes.

The Flash does a great job expanding The CW’s new take on the DC Universe. Thanks to its surprisingly stellar visual effects, many scenes feel like they are ripped out of a comic book, particularly when the Fastest Man Alive speeds through the city. Geoff Johns previously called the series the “most faithful DC Comics adaptation ever,” and it’s not hard to see why. The show also does a good job connecting to its sister series, with a memorable cameo from Stephen Amell’s Arrow. Additionally, The Flash boasts some exciting DC Universe references, with at least one at the end bound to particularly drive fans crazy.

Any flaws are few. I really enjoyed the storytelling, but I didn’t care for some of the dialogue, such as Iris’ reference to twerking. Additionally, if you are not a fan of The CW’s general style – aka, occasionally glossy cinematography and the fact that most of the actors are ridiculously attractive – chances are, you may be turned off by this episode. I personally don’t mind it, however, especially since the production value is a clear improvement other CW productions. Additionally, the Weather Wizard was a forgettable villain. While he was just a bank robber who happened to be given superpowers, the character is given little development. Still, he adequately serves the role of the very first supervillain Flash fights.

In conclusion, The Flash‘s first episode is a fun, exciting installment in the universe created by Arrow. While not perfect, this pilot is sure to excite diehard fans of DC Comics, and it is a worthy adaptation of one of the most iconic Justice League members of all time. While we wait for Warner Bros. to The Flash to the silver screen, this new television series should hold us over. Boasting some likable characters, an engaging storyline and some dazzling special effects, it looks like The CW has another hit on its hands. I will certainly be tuning in next week.

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Founder and Editor-in-Chief of WOBAM! Entertainment.