Hometown Celebrity Steven "Flash" Gordon discovers a secret his father tried desperately to keep hidden. He then embarks on a journey to another dimension in hopes of finding his father who... See full summary »
Flash, Dale, and Dr. Zarkov return from their former space adventures only to find that their enemy, Ming the Merciless of planet Mongo, has a new weapon: a deadly ray that crosses space to wreak havoc on earth. Earth's only hope is for our heroes to take off again and stop the ray at its source on Mars, where they (and a stowaway) must battle Ming's ally, Queen Azura, who turns her enemies into lumpish clay people. Can they survive 15 chapters of deadly perils? Find out next week... Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
King Features Syndicate released the 3 Flash Gordon serials as well as "Buck Rogers," Red Barry", "Ace Drummond" and other comic strip cliffhangers to US TV in 1951. Because the television show Flash Gordon (1954), starring Steve Holland as Flash, was in syndication in late 1953, the three Universal Pictures Flash Gordon theatrical serials were retitled for TV broadcast. Flash Gordon (1936) became "Space Soldiers", Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars (1938) became "Space Soldiers' Trip to Mars", and Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940) became "Space Soldiers Conquer the Universe". To this day both the 3 original "Flash Gordon" serial titles and the 3 "Space Soldiers" titles are used. See more »
In one scene where Queen Azura vanishes, you can see her run before the flash powder used for the effect ignites. See more »
Great escapism; not quite as good as the 1st "Flash" serial
Some of my reactions to Flash Gordon serials (such as this one) are similar to my feelings about the original Star Trek series. I revel in the swashbuckling fun and the intensity of the experience. I marvel at the ingenious and original sci-fi elements, while chuckling at some of the increasingly dated technology and special effects. I roll my eyes at some of the overacting while secretly cherishing it. I question the plausibility of some of the plot elements, and wince at some of the social commentary that hasn't aged particularly well.
In Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars, many of the actors from the first serial return in their memorable roles. In particular, Buster Crabbe (Flash) and Charles Middleton (Ming) portray their characters with a great deal of flair. Jean Rogers (Dale Arden) seems more subdued and less memorable than in her previous outing. (This may reflect my disapproval of her transformation from a blonde to a short-haired brunette and her censor-demanded, conservative garb!) The new comic-relief journalist character (not present in the original comic strip), "Happy" Hapgood, seems to be a bit of a miscalculation, but his role falls far short of "Jar-Jar" level distraction.
The storyline is interesting, although things do drag a bit during the second half of the serial. The plot is primarily action-driven; the romantic story angles that percolated through the first series are virtually absent here. Although the world of Mars is not as diverse as Mongo's (Lionmen, Sharkmen, Hawkmen), the Clay People are a sad and interesting race. The acting and special effects both seem somewhat more polished than in the first serial. Although in one sense this is an improvement, it also removes some of the quirky fun. Overall, this is an enjoyable and memorable serial that fans of old sci-fi will want to seek out.
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