Flash Gordon

It’s difficult to judge a film trying so hard be ridiculously bad. Do you knock it for its cheesiness or do you celebrate it for its fun? I choose the latter as this always entertaining, never boring, update of the comic strip from the 1930s, manages to entertain by sheer spectacle. Flash is hijacked to the planet Mongo where he meets Ming the Merciless, intent on sending the moon out of orbit and toward the Earth to destroy it. Why? Oh he’s bored. The special effects aren’t of the technologically advanced Star Wars variety. No, this is retro 70s-style futurism. The explosion of colors and opulent costumes that Flash encounters when first entering the city of this new world recalls The Wizard of Oz, Superman and an Earth Wind and Fire concert. Words cannot do the production design justice. And what a cast! Everyone is in on the joke as the acting is way over the top. Max von Sydow makes a diabolically evil villain. Topol is a disheveled, wild-eyed scientist, Brian Blessed as prince of the Hawkmen, shouts his lines in bombastic tones as if he’s reciting Shakespeare and Italian actress, Ornella Muti is a seductive space princess that really gets around, if you know what I mean. If that wasn’t enough, there’s that rock opera title theme by Queen. “Flash! Ah-ahh, He’ll save every one of us!” Inspired lunacy.

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10 Responses to “Flash Gordon”

  1. Still haven’t seen FLASH GORDON but it sounds like a hoot – on a sidenote: did you ever see the Family Guy episode (not sure which one) where there is one of those pop references (in this case I believe they were talking about God and what he does when he’s bored or something) and they cut to some ridiculous thing about what they’re talking about – in this case it was God cruising through the sky in a Flash Gordon costume as the Queen song blares on the soundtrack…good times, good times…

  2. monty hawes Says:

    I remember watching this like crazy everytime HBO and Cinemax played it back in the mid 80’s. Defintely a guilty pleasure movie. I need to watch it again, it’s been awhile. Brian Blessed is awesome. And you forgot to mention a pre-Bond Timothy Dalton as Prince Baron, Mark. He was good too. Great post, makes me nostalgic a bit.

    • You’re right Timothy Dalton was great. I just didn’t list everyone in the cast. Mariangela Melato was fun as villainess General Kala. “What do you mean Flash Gordon approaching!? OPEN FIRE!!” I could watch it again I think.

  3. Victor De Leon Says:

    Perfect write up, Mark! So spot on, especially the point you make about the over the top performances. Blessed was a trip, no?

    Plus, your opening line to the review is very astute, man. Awesome way to start the write up. As a kid, I didn’t really appreciate this movie but as I got older I started to understand that camp and cheese has it’s place among much of cinema. Now, I love re-visiting Flash Gordon.

    Thanks for sending me the link to your review. This was a fun read!

    • Thank you so much. I enjoyed your review as well because you totally “get” this movie.

      I really love Brian Blessed in this. He has my full attention whenever he’s on screen: “Gordon’s alive!” He was in Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V which I enjoyed. A lot. Obviously a much more serious role.

      • Victor De Leon Says:

        Yes! I recall Henry V with Blessed! Great stuff. I do need to re-watch that very soon.

        I used to own the laserdisc but I never updated. I wonder if it’s out on blu ray yet.

      • It’s not. There was a DVD released back in July 2000. It’s no longer in print but it can still be rented through Netflix.

      • Victor De Leon Says:

        Thanks for the info, Mark!

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