FLASH GORDON (1980)
Article 5393 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Mike Hodges
Featuring Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, Max von Sydow
Country: UK / USA
What it is: Camp space opera
Football player Flash Gordon, newspaper woman Dale Arden, and scientist Hans Zarkov take a rocketship to the world of Mongo to defeat Ming the Merciless, who is destroying the earth with a machine that causes natural disasters.
After the success of STAR WARS, I shouldn’t be surprised that someone would hit on the idea of doing a remake of one of the most famous science fiction serials of all time. And, given the time, I’m not surprised either that they decided to go the “intentionally campy” route with the concept. Unfortunately, going this route leaves me a movie that isn’t quite funny enough to be a full-blown comedy, nor does it take itself seriously enough for me to take it seriously. In short, I didn’t laugh much and I had no emotional investment at any time in the proceedings. I was hoping that the presence of Max von Sydow would make me like it better, but here I was disappointed; he didn’t do badly, I suppose, but he didn’t really add anything special to his performance of Ming. So I just had to hunt for aspects of the movie I did enjoy, and I found a few. I like the colorfulness of the proceedings, I really enjoyed Peter Wyngarde’s performance as Ming’s right hand man (though his face is almost totally obscured, he delivers his lines with just the right amount of wry humor that he ends up giving the best performance in the movie), and I applaud the perfect casting of Brian Blessed in the role of Vultan. I do rather like Queen (who did the soundtrack for the movie), but the incessant Flash melody isn’t one of my favorites of theirs, and their best moment for me was their rendition of “Here Comes the Bride”, a piece of music ideal for Brian May’s guitar orchestrations. Overall, the movie mostly was reminiscent of BARBARELLA, and I never cared much for that movie. It’s a loud, messy movie, and I’m not surprised that the promised sequel never came about.