Flash Gordon - Film review
I've never understood people who knock 'Flash Gordon'. True, the script isn't the most involved or thought inducing; the acting often leaves a lot to be desired (Sam J. Jones, I'm looking at you here); and the special effects are decidedly 80s, but if it's high quality cinema you're after, that's what 'The Godfather' and 'The Shawshank Redemption' are for. If you're after a lot of fun and a quality soundtrack, 'Flash Gordon' is the place to start.
The basic premise is this: the evil Emperor Ming the Merciless from the planet Mongo decides to toy with and then destroy the Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, Dr Hans Zarkov (formerly of NASA, as any fan of the film's title track by Queen will know) has built a spaceship with which to investigate what is happening. Before he can set off, a plane containing American football star Flash Gordon and a journalist Dale Arden crashes into his lab after being caught in Ming's destruction. Zarkov kidnaps the pair and forces them into space with him where they are captured by Ming. They then meet a host of colourful characters as they attempt to halt Ming's plans.
The film has that wonderful camp quality that made the Batman television series so successful in the 6os and that is one of my favourite things about it. I also love the soundtrack. Like with 'Highlander', the Queen soundtrack is immediately recognisable, and to this day if anybody says "Flash", I have an immediate urge to sing "Ah, Ahhhhhhh" after it.
The film also has a fairly impressive cast. Golden Raspberry nominated Sam J. Jones as Flash is no Laurence Olivier, but he brings a certain charm to the role; and Melody Anderson as Dale is a perfectly good heroine. It's the rest of the cast that stand out for me though. Max von Sydow makes a deliciously evil Ming, with Topol and Timothy Dalton great as Zarkov and Barin (a prince of a planet captured by Ming) respectively. Those with a good ear will recognise the voice of Peter Wyngarde (of Jason King fame) as the masked General Klytus, and then there's my favourite character of all, Prince Vultan of the Hawkmen, played with relish by Brian Blessed. His cry of 'Gordon's alive!?!!?' is one of the most recognisable lines in movie history.
All in all, this is a fantastic movie for a weekend afternoon, where you just want to sit back and relax with a bit of fun and nostalgia. It's not an Oscar winner, but it's certainly an entertaining watch.
The video for Queen's title track 'Flash'.
The 'Flash Gordon' trailer.
My favourite part of the whole film. 'Gordon's alive!?!?!'