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|Index||259 reviews in total|
I loved this movie when i was about seven, and I enjoy it even more on the same childish level today. This is a movie that doesnt ask you to suspend belief or insult your intelligence, because it is so blatantly make believe right up front. I truly believe that the makers of this movie set out to make an over the top hammy piece of cinema. I dont think anyone can argue that, in that respect, they succeeded. I admit that Sam J. Jones is a terrible actor (even dubbed) but it lends it self nicely to the fact that flash just isnt that bright. And whether intentional or not, the bad acting in this film just helps it pull off the cheesiness to perfection. No movie with lines such as "I love you! But we only have fourteen hours left to save the earth!" could be considered a serious dramatic entity. Frankly I find the approach that this movie takes to be refreshing, especialy when compared with some ridiculously plotted movies, that while good in their own right, insult our inteligence by taking themselves seriously (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, etc). My advise to anyone watching this movie is to not expect Gone With the Wind or Casablanca. Just have fun! And dont hold the absurdity and cheesiness of this movie against it, because its intentional, and done beautifuly!
Some people aren't too fond of this version; it failed at the box
office and many fans hate the camp, which, for me, works in this case.
Unlike the Christopher Reeves SUPERMAN and others, the camp makes fun
of the heroes, and not the villains (some of us like to take our
villains seriously, and do not like them to made to look silly, thank
you very much).
The filmmakers were obviously aware of, and aimed to incorporate, everything attached to Flash Gordon---from Raymond's comic strip, to the old Universal serials, to the semi-pornographic parody "Flesh Gordon," to even the post-STAR WARS mythology that audiences in the eighties would expect. Surprisingly, for such a diverse melange, it actually works.
Unlike the other space movies of the time, this film emphasized sets and costumes rather than visual effects, and as a result its overall look dates less than many spaceoperas of the late seventies/early eighties. For those who dismiss it--and there are many--be aware that there are also many of us who love it and have re-watched more than you. It's deligtfully rewatchable and nowadays is an indisputable example of what is termed a cult film.
Flash Gordon is one of the most perfectly realized films De Laurentiis
made, and it is disappointing that so few have recognized it for what
it is; a 1930's comic strip brought perfectly to life. The fact that it
is so accurate a realization of America's hopes and fears during the
1930's may help to explain why it has been dismissed so readily as, at
best, mere camp, and at worst, a vulgar cinematic catastrophe: Today's
audiences are too removed from that decade to catch the references. A
classic example of America's view of Asia during the 1930's can be
found in Dale Arden's confrontation with Princess Aura just prior to
her wedding to Ming. Aura is trying to convince Dale to slip a poison
into Ming's "Power Potion" but Dale tells Aura she can't because she's
given Ming her word to "try to be a good wife if [Ming] would spare
Zarkov and Baron. He vowed he would." Aura, shocked at her naiveté,
shouts, "My father has never kept a vow in his life!" To which Dale
responds, "I can't help that Aura. Keeping our word is one of the
things that make us better than you." Flash Gordon is filled with this
type of wonderful 1930's fun, and this fun is only enhanced by the
decision to use bad actors in roles that would only benefit from the
lack of skill, as well as Oscar-caliber actors in the most demanding
roles. Max Von Sydow is an obvious example of the latter, but the
hidden gems come in the form of Mariangela Melato, Brian Blessed, and
Ornella Muti. Melato does an outstanding job as Klytus's reptilian, but
beautiful, second in command when she flawlessly delivers lines like,
"Confess, and we won't hurt you anymore.
We don't like doing this at all!" And Ornella Muti is simply unbelievable as Ming's gorgeous but deadly daughter. Replying to Flash's query as to whether he can use the telepathy machine to contact Dale with a perfectly candid, "If I showed you how. But I'm not going to." Add to these amazing actors the costumes and sets that are obvious homages to the original comic's drawings and you have a movie that is as surprising as it is delightful. Enjoy!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There are films out there that can be described as a guilty pleasure -
you know they're quite bad, but somewhere deep down in your heart you
can't bring yourself to admit it. Flash Gordon is, in my opinion, the
guiltiest pleasure of them all. Cardboard characters, lunatic script,
embarrassing dialogue, trashy performances (apart from Max Von Sydow),
and hilarious special effects... yet the one thing that comes out in
the film's favour is that, despite its seemingly countless faults, it
is still irresistibly entertaining.
American football legend Flash Gordon (Sam J. Jones) and sexy babe Dale Arden (Melody Anderson) are aboard a private flight when a weird red-storm forces them to perform an emergency landing. They crash into the back garden of wacky ex-NASA scientist Hans Zarkov (Topol), an eccentric madman who believes the world is under attack from alien forces and who has built his own spaceship to do battle with the enemy. Astonishingly, it turns out that Zarkov was right - and pretty soon, Flash, Dale and Zarkov find themselves on the planet Mongo, battling against its tyrannical emperor Ming the Merciless (Max Von Sydow), with a little help from Ming's treacherous daughter (Ornella Muti), her lover Barin (Timothy Dalton), and the winged warrior Vultan (Brian Blessed).
Flash Gordon is an absolutely insane film. The set design is remarkable, as is the costume design, and a pounding rock soundtrack is provided by the group Queen. Performance-wise, everyone seems to be camping it up like an end-of-term pantomime, though Von Sydow somehow seems to give his villain a deliciously sinister edge. Some of the dialogue is so awful that it becomes eminently quotable by virtue of its badness (a few samples: "This Ming is a psycho!"; "That must be some planet you come from!"; and - my favourite - "Freeze! You bloody bastards!") Flash Gordon should be a total disaster - an awful shambles of a film with no redeeming qualities. It isn't. Perhaps we'll never know how or why it works, but it does. So let the dissection of Flash Gordon the movie end here - analyze it no more, just enjoy it!
After a plane crash in extreme weather, Flash Gordon and his travelling
companion Dale Arden after abducted by Dr Zarkov to help pilot his spaceship
to confront what he believes is an attack from space. Once in space Flash
comes faces to face with the cause of the extreme weather, Ming the
Merciless and is sentenced to death. Saved from death by Ming's lustful
daughter Flash sets out to save his friends and stop Ming with the help of
the leaders of the kingdoms.
Even when this was brand new I suspect it looked out dated and a throwback kind of appeal. More than 20 years later this definitely is appreciated as a laugh by about as many people who genuinely enjoy it on it's own merits. The plot is well known to most people I suspect I know it from the 25 minute b/w `classic' series that BBC2 repeated in the mornings when I was only a lad in the 80's. But it is easily nutshelled as above. The story moves alone at a good pace despite the poor effects and is actually pretty exciting.
The effects are poor even for 1980's the back projection is rubbish and the costumes are silly. Compare it to the advances made in Star Wars and stuff years before and it looks weak. However the vision is ambitious and it works well if you accept the weaknesses from the start. Another weakness is the acting from ranges from wooden to just plain hammy. Jones is perfect as Flash, despite being wooden as a tree. He comes over like a 30's matinee idol type, which is just what the fun mood of the film needed. Anderson is awful but again just accept the weaknesses. Von Sydow is good as Ming and Topol is a little unhinged as Zarkov. Blessed hams it up so much you could slice him and serve him with pineapple but he also suits the film well. Dalton, O'Brien, Blue Peter's Peter Duncan and Robbie Coltrane and several other unexpected Brits turn up which is nice.
If you're not sure if this film is for you then watch the first 20 minutes. By that time you'll have seen two key things that sum up the film. Firstly you'll have sat through the extremely cool theme song from Queen. That gets me in the mood every time I hear it! Secondly you'll see a fight with Ming the Merciless' men where Flash takes them on in a form of American Football fighting! Both this scene and the music are a little silly and quite camp but if you like these then the rest of the film will suit you fine.
Personally I love this movie and watch it every repeat I see. It is silly and has plenty of weakness, but more than all these things it is incredibly fun to watch! Sing it with me now `FLASH! AH-AH! HE'LL SAVE EVERYONE OF US!'
During the middle section of this movie, our hero 'Flash' Gordon,
accompanied by Ornella "Most beautiful woman in the world" Muti,
witnesses ex Bond Timothy Dalton giving ex Blue Peter presenter Peter
Duncan the sweet merciful release of death by putting him to
the(cardboard) sword (offscreen). "Its an initiation" purrs the shapely
Muti, "I just love initiations".
This 1980 version of the perennial Saturday morning sci-fi cliffhanger is a feast for the senses. That is, if your senses crave lashings of junkfood. With an eye meltingly lurid palette of colours and rocktastic Queen soundtrack Flash Gordon was the perfectly overblown movie for the start of an overblown decade. The costumes are extravagantly cheesy, the effects farcical, the acting hilarious.
Almost every minor character was hammed up to perfection by the cream (or perhaps custard) of character actors of the time including such luminaries as Rocky Horrors Richard O Brien, Phillip "I corrected them" Stone from the Shining and the half-man, half-beast that is Brian Blessed.
The only minor flaw in this popcorn delight is the fact that it is, in almost every way - a terrible, awful movie - I HIGHLY recommend it.
Dino DeLaurentiis' Flash Gordon is one of those rare movies that captures the imagination of the viewer, and doesn't let go until the final moments. It truly has everything you could ever want in a movie: compelling plot (the QB of the New York Jets has approximately 24 hours to save the Earth from total annihilation), violence, gore, great acting (Timothy Dalton, Brian Blessed, Max Von Sydow), action (the "Football Fight" in Ming's palace), drama, sexual situations (Princess Aura seducing Flash in her rocket, Dale Arden in Ming's bedroom), and babes (Ornella Muti as Princess Aura, and Melody Anderson as Dale Arden.) What more can you ask for in a movie? Nothing, I tell you, NOTHING!!! Actually, having read other comments elsewhere, I am extremely disappointed in the almost universal panning of the 2 leads, Sam J. Jones and Melody Anderson. These two fine actors put forth a masterful performance, and made you really believe the situations their characters found themselves in. I can't speak highly enough of their abilities, as they were never as good in anything else than they were here. Flash Gordon is the greatest movie of all-time- it has to be the greatest ever, because I wouldn't watch a movie over 300 timess if it wasn't. You think I'm kidding, but I'm deadly serious. The first time I saw it in the theater- 18 years ago- I was hooked for life. Please, whatever you do, watch this movie over and over- you'll be glad you did.
I know that the popular consensus has tagged this movie as campy and cheesy, but in the case of Flash Gordon, I don't think that's a bad thing at all. I was like 5 years old when I first saw this movie, so for me, it's not only a great film, it also brings me back to some of the happiest moments of my childhood when my imagination was limitless. Just listening to the soundtrack is enough to bring me back to my own personal "good ol' days," so I'll always have a soft spot for this movie in my heart. However, even viewing it as an adult, I have to say that I don't see quite as much cheese as the harsh critics see in the movie. I mean, yeah, there's that "cringe in your seat" moment when Melody Anderson side shuffles, claps her hands and cheers "Go, Flash, Go!" and her equally embarrassing, "Oh, Flash" when he saves Prince Baron from falling into the abyss, but beyond that, I think it's an awesome movie. I thought that all of the actors were very good in their respective roles, particularly Ming the Merciless, played by Max Von Sydow. He's very convincing in this role and not even remotely campy (IMHO). Klytus is also great. You gotta love his nonchalantly smooth manner of speaking. However, if I were to point out one thing that I believe made Flash Gordon the cult classic that it is today, it would HAVE to be the soundtrack. Right from the first scene when Ming starts pressing buttons that wreak havoc on the Earth, you hear the beat. Dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun, then they hit you with that campy-as-hell "Flash! A-haaaaa!" before they break into song. The wedding march was exceptionally evil and just all of the music in between made the movie so memorable. Plus, the music helped freeze the movie permanently in 1980, which I love. If you've never seen this movie, DEFINITELY rent it and check it out. It's just a great flick.
A blonde, whip-wielding man in red PVC hotpants. A sultry brunette
temptresses in a (red PVC) catsuit. A dastardly skullcapped villain
with a penchant for S'n'M. A horny, malevolent robot-man called Klytus
(a cross between coitus and clitoris?) with a penchant for young
ladies. A phallic war rocket Ajax looking like a model 747 decked out
with spikes and fins. No: this isn't a 1990s porn extravaganza; this is
Flash Gordon the early 80s camp comic classic.
What a film! Sorry, I mean what a film? It's impossible to convey the qualities of this film in a short review. Indeed, I'm not entirely sure I understand on what level (or planet) this film works. Mainly I think it works because everyone is having such fun, from the gloriously camp Max Von Sydow (my all time hero) to Queen (who seem not so much responsible for the soundtrack as the spiritual progenitors for the film itself).
I should mention that I have fond memories of this film from childhood. I remember sneaking downstairs to watch it late at night aged about 8. From that moment, my childhood fantasies usually came (so to speak) in the form of Princess Aura (Ornella Muti and the now famous red catsuit). I should also point out that the film has very few other obvious things (apart from exuberance) going for it. It is possibly one of the daftest films ever made, only slightly redeemed by the fact that it doesn't take itself seriously note the Houdini reference and the casting of Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan as proof of this, not that you'll need any proof after five minutes of watching it. Indeed, the only ones who don't seem to be enjoying themselves are the humourless Timothy Dalton and the limp-wristed, wet as a haddock Melody Anderson proving once and for all that rampant Euro totty spank the ass (so to speak) of all American girls.
Anyway, I digress. Flash Gordon is essentially a pantomime with an all-star cast (for Max Von Sydow as Ming the Merciless, think Sir Ian McKellem as Widow Twanky). Viewed objectively it's a moderately, if not abjectly awful film. If you just unhook your critical consciousness for 90 minutes you are sure to be rewarded by a high camp, high-energy slice of high grade Camembert. And Mistress Muti she's still a kind of magic! 5/10
I'm not even joking. It's quite possibly one of the worst films ever
made, but that is what makes it so marvellous. Loud, cheesy, poorly
acted and about as subtle as a pitchfork rammed up the bum. Based on
the long- running strips originally written by Alex Raymond, it tells
the story of all- American goodie Flash Gordon and his teleportation
onto the planet Mongo, lorded over by the eviler- than- evil Ming the
Merciless, who has eyes on Flash's lady friend, Dale Arden. If you are
a fan of comic books, the sci-fi genre, Queen, or, like me, all three,
then this is, simply put perfect entertainment. They should make more
films like this- cheesy, camp and stupid. by the way, if you hate this
because you think it is too stupid, you REALLY don't understand it!!
LONG LIVE FLASH!!!
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