(1980)

Critic Reviews

58

Metascore

Based on 13 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
80
This campy extravaganza has it all - heroes, villains, beautiful women and high stakes. Laughably bad and fantastically good all at once, this is a guilty pleasure that everyone can enjoy.
75
Flash Gordon is played for laughs, and wisely so. It is no more sophisticated than the comic strip it's based on, and that takes the curse off of material that was old before it was born. Is all of this ridiculous? Of course. Is it fun? Yeah, sort of, it is.
70
Chicago Reader
Better than it might have been, given the limitations of this kind of brand-name filmmaking. Hodges doesn't shirk his duties, and though the film lapses too often into easy facetiousness, much of it feels surprisingly substantial. The action moves smoothly and logically, finding a rhythm that engages your attention despite the patent lack of inspiration and genuine commitment.
70
Max von Sydow is flawless as Ming, playing him with the perfect blend of malevolence and evil glee.
70
The narrative is a little plodding, but adult punters will soon slip back into reverie for the lost visions of Saturday morning cinema, and their kids can get off on the extraordinary undercurrent of febrile sexuality. Acting honours go to von Sydow as Ming the Merciless and Mariangela Melato as his dark-eyed henchperson.
63
The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
The frantic pleasures of this film add up to what used to be considered good fun; good Saturday morning fun; good Saturday morning fun to eat pancakes and pour maple syrup by; good fun that, once the day begins, is good fun soon forgotten. It's a pity Flash Gordon can't be screened at the breakfast table. [6 Dec 1980, p.E7]
60
The expensive new version of Flash Gordon is a lot more gaudy, and just as dumb, as the original series starring Buster Crabbe. Sam J. Jones in the title role has even less thespic range than Crabbe, but the badness of his performance is part of the fun of the film. Jones, a former Playgirl nude centerfold whose only previous film role was the husband of Bo Derek in 10, lumbers vacantly through the part of Flash Gordon with the naivete, fearlessness, and dopey line readings familiar from the 1930s serials. Film benefits greatly from the adroit performance of Max von Sydow as Emperor Ming.
50
The only good thing about this would-be camp version of the classic 1936 serial is the impressive production design by Danilo Donati.
50
Chicago Tribune
A dumb and purposefully cheesy version of the comic strip space hero. Although the film has a few early moments of put-on humor, the story has nowhere to go. Sam Jones is not very bright as Flash. Only Max von Sydow as Ming the Merciless brings any style to the adventure. Only for the juvenile set. [19 Dec 1980, p.10]
38
Boston Globe
If you enjoy laughing at a movie, rather than with it, then you might get a few chuckles. [18 Dec 1980, p.1]

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