Scifi
Flash Gordon
.
Dir: Mike Hodges
Star: Sam J Jones, Melody Anderson, Topol, Max Von Sydow, Timothy Dalton, Brian Blessed
Cert / Year: PG / 1980
Format: DVD R2
'

"Klytus I'm bored. What little play thing do you have for me today? "
"It is an obscure body in the SK system the inhabitants call it Earth. Will you destroy it at once?"
"No, I like to play with things before annihilation."
Dum Dum Dum Dum Flash Ahhhhhh.

All American hero and star football player (American football, not real football) Flash Gordon (Sam Jones) and travelling companion Dale Arden (Melody Anderson) are kidnapped by mad scientist Professor Hans Zarkoff (Topol). They are taken to the planet Mongo which is attacking Earth in a fiendish plot that involves crashing the moon into the planet. There they have to combat the vast forces of the evil tyrant Ming the mercyless (Max Von Sydow) and his henchman Klytus. Their only help comes from Ming's beautiful daughter Aura (Ornella Muti), who introduces Flash to the warring factions of Price Barin (Timothy Dalton) and Prince Vultan (the cult god Brian Blessed). Will Flash get the girl, rescue the world, and save every one of us. Well what do you think?

"Ah well who wants to live for ever. Hawk men DIVE!"

This film is great, no brilliant. It steadfastly refuses to bring the nineteen thirties original upto date. Remember rocket ships that looked like washing up liquid bottles with a sparkler up their bums, remember Buster Crabbe in tights, well the essence is captured right here. This gives Flash Gordon its unique look and feel. Bright colours, high camp, and great overacting, mix with retro spaceships and non PC attitudes to provide fun.

"Flash, Flash, I love you, but we only have fourteen hours to save the Earth."

What a cast, Sam Jones looks great as Flash, and Melody Anderson is suitably swoonful as the lovely Dale Arden. The rest of the cast are real class as well. Max von Sydow despite his garish surroundings and colourful wardrobe is menacing as Ming, and his sidekick Klytus is wonderfully overplayed by Peter Wyngarde. Topol goes right over the top as Zarkoff delivering some of the best lines of the film. However I've saved the best till last, Timothy Dalton and Brian Blessed are just brilliant. Timothy Dalton not known for his humorous characters plays Price Barin straight. While Brian Blessed provides a perfect foil, looking like he's having a ball, taking his trade mark bellowing the unrestrained new heights.

"Barin I've changed." "So have I Aura" "Ah Ha! It was one of the prime numbers of the zemen series, I haven't changed."

At the Helm of this maelstrom of camp chaos is director Mike Hodges (better known for the classic Get Carter. No, not the one with Stalone in it), who keeps the whole things going at a cracking pace. But more credit should be given to the set designers and special effects guys. The sets are top quality and of a grand scale from the huge rooms of Ming's palace, to the jungles of Arboria, or the arena of the Hawk men city. The whole film is studio bound, and so the sets have to be large enough and of sufficient quality to convince. To this end they are not always totally effective, but any shortfalls just add to the retro feel of the movie. The same can be said of the effects, which are in places excellent, but if not, are pleasing old fashioned.

"No, not the bore worms."

Plain sailing so far, but there are a couple of grey clouds (as apposed to the multi hewed lava lamp sky of the planet Mongo). Firstly you have probably seen this film a hundred times. It certainly is a favourite of the terrestrial channels, as lets face it, it really offends no one. Secondly it is very lightweight, no deep characters or complicated plot. this is a very simple stuff. Lastly the dated attitudes do not sit well in the current day and age (but lets face it, this is a homage to the thirties so they are not meant to). There is one exception to the last point, and that is where Dale in slave girl outfit takes on the emperors guards (a good three years before Leia in Star Wars!).

"Gordons Alive! What do you mean Gordons alive? Despatch war rocket Ajax to bring back his body"

So you think I've forgotten to mention he soundtrack. It is composed and performed by Queen and fits the movie perfectly. Straight from the memorable (and great to sing when you're on the beer) title song to the fantastic football fight song the music shares the same OTT quality as the movie itself. It is rare that you get a score this good and this well integrated into the action. Just try listening to the soundtrack after watching the film you will be able to remember each scene just from the music.

"Remove the Earth woman and prepare her for our pleasure." "Forget it Ming. Dale is with me."

Watch Flash Gordon, it's fun, no it's FUN! Forget your Dark Cities or your Pitch Blacks for a few moments, and revel in some larger than life old fashioned adventure. Watch Flash Gordon again, its worth it alone for the fantastic British supporting cast (including Richard O'Brien and Peter Duncan). Just watch it because he'll save everyone of us.

"Klytus, are you're men on the right pills"

Rating: 4 out of 5

"Long live Flash. You've saved you're Earth. Have a nice day."

DVD
Picture 2.35:1 Good quality looking almost new, with only a small amount of grain.
Audio Stereo Oh how I long for a decent 5.1 mix
Features A few stills from the production
Lyrics for two of the songs
Great cartoon scene selection menus
Verdict This film cries out for a collectors edition. It needs more extras and a proper sound mix.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Theme Back Top Home