|Flash Gordon (1980)|
Pathetic Earthlings... Who Can Save You Now?
review by Darth Buzz
Notes: It's a very basic middle of the road transfer with almost no extras. Chalk it up to being a very early DVD transfer.
I'll have to admit that I kind of enjoyed this POS film. Unfortunately the enjoyment was more do to fond memories from my youth than for the film itself. The first time I saw this film was back in "the day." In 1980, in the theater, and as a kid I was held in rapture for the full length of the film. Today the film doesn't quite carry the same impact that it did when I was 11. I think most of my positive thoughts of this film are positive totally because of nostalgic reasons. Things that the film did right that are not due to nostalgia are mostly related to art design and set work. The film looks like it was torn right out of a 50's comic strip. The sets and costumes are overall very cool.
One of the things that sucked ass about Flash is the acting talent that they found for this fine film. Max von Sydow and Timothy Dalton are the only 2 competent actors, and Flash himself (Sam J. Jones) needs to go back to acting school. (Although how many films have I seen him in since this one? ZERO!!!) Also the plot for this film could use some major work. It's lighter than air. One can't review this film without talking about the music either. The music is a two edged sword. It's campy as hell and out of it's time period it's basically a steaming pile, but if one has fond memories of the movie then it fits right in.
Overall if I hadn't seen Flash Gordon when I was a kid and had no nostalgia factor for this movie then I would have been more harsh than a 6. It would be more like a 5 or 4 without those youthful memories.
SCORE: 1½ Stars
There were some talented people involved with the 1980 release of Flash Gordon. Oscar winner Max von Sydow (The Seventh Seal, Pelle the Conqueror) played the villainous Ming. Oscar nominated Topol (Fiddler on the Roof) played Doctor Hans Zarkov. The script was co-written by Lorenzo Semple Jr. (Three Days of the Condor, The Parallax View, Papillon).
This is nothing new. Many talented actors, directors, writers, producers (you name it) get caught in the innards of a spiraling shit ball headed for the nearest anus. There's no stopping it. It's like that hot dog you ate with canned chili. Once you take a few bites, you might as well finish the whole thing because more than likely the damage is done.
Flash Gordon does score points for originality. I'm quite sure it's the only "PG" film I've ever seen where a character mentions "necrophilia." In general, I was amused by the unusually numerous sexual references (both obvious and subtle). The Queen soundtrack is something of a giveaway to the filmmaker's intent. The scene where a bare-chested Flash runs around in leather underwear alerted my "gaydar." However, straight men can have some fun too. We get to see a leather clad dominatrix whip a scantily clad woman. And, in general, the balance tips to the average male's proclivity with an abundance of T & A.
If this was all I had to report, Flash Gordon would be a wash (no harm, no foul). Unfortunately, I've failed to mention the sadness. As Flash Gordon, Sam J. Jones is inexplicably horrible. Trust me, I wouldn't hire him as the "third gunman" on a T.J. Hooker episode.
Technically, the film is a mess. The special effects are no better than television's Battlestar Galactica (which preceded Flash Gordon by two years).
The makers of Flash Gordon ultimately want us to buy into the "camp" nature of the movie. Notice the scene where evil Ming forces our heroine to the alter. The wedding march is played by the rock band Queen. Now, how would natives of the world "Mongo" happen to have the same wedding march? It's all supposed to be tongue and cheek, but made me think the filmmakers compromised and should have made a soft porn "R" rated film.
SCORE: 7 Beers
All right kiddies let's get ready for camp, cause this baby is chocked full of it. Rarely do you see a movie this bad, with this good of a cast....But this shit has been shaite before so let's go somewhere new. To any cult movie fan such as this rubbish, a keen eye would have noticed Mr. Book. A small bit part none the less but ain't he cool. There are a cool couple of other notable scenes worth mentioning however alcohol dilutes the focused mind and I end up sounding like the drunken master that I am. Check your intelligence and ego at the door if you watch this flick, cause it ain't pretty but damn if it isn't a continuous giggle.