Howdy people of the north, south, east and west, and welcome to Day #23 of Month of Superhero Film Reviews 2! During this month I’ll be reviewing of some of the best, average and worst comic book adapted films. Today talking about Flash Gordon.
This is one of those films I’ve heard so much about over the years but just never got around to watching. The only piece of Flash Gordon media I’ve ever been invested in was the 1996 animated series, it was fun to watch and had a pretty kick ass intro song that I’ve never truly forgotten. Anyway, I’ve always been curious about watching the 1980 film especially after watching Ted in 2012 and hearing about the new film that’s currently in the works. So today I decided to give it a try.
The story can be summed up as the following:
“A football player and his friends travel to the planet Mongo and find themselves fighting the tyranny of Ming the Merciless to save Earth.”
The story is pretty strange but also good. Put simply this is a classic tale of good versus evil, but more than that it is about average people being thrown into a situation larger than themselves and using their courage and skills to stay alive and save the lives of many from a maniacal individual. There is a lot of like about this film from its funny one-liners and light-hearted tone to its adventurous nature and action-packed sequences. Plus the film is very absurd, but seems self-aware of that, a lot of things take place just like a classic superhero/comic book adventure, but also feels like the film serials and TV shows of old. This film is not perfect though, there are a lot of random and downright weird things that take place which make you wonder why those decisions are made, I was also surprised with how sexual this film felt with some of the characters, clothing and dialogue as well. The light-hearted and cheesy nature of this film also means that a lot of the film isn’t very realistic or relatable and will lead you question the logic of what’s happening throughout the film.
Now let’s talk about the cast. Firstly there’s Sam J. Jones as Flash Gordon, Flash is quite a straightforward character, he’s not too smart, but he’s courageous and heroic, and Jones plays this character with just the right about of charisma, charm, cheesniess and seriousness. Melody Anderson as Dale Arden is also good too. Dale is sweet and gentle, but also knows how to be tricky and kick some ass, while Anderson acts like a bit of a helpless and lovesick individual, she’s very beautiful and engaging in the role. Max von Sydow as Emperor Ming the Merciless is great, this guy is just evil but he’s classy, cruel and loves it when he gets his way, but is quick to anger when he doesn’t. Sydow is totally enjoying himself in this role and it isn’t one you can take seriously. The same can also be said for Chaim Topol as Dr. Hans Zarkov, this man from the beginning seems like a crackpot, but he’s also quite smart and humorous too.
And then there’s Ornella Muti as Princess Aura… Damn! Muti is one gorgeous piece of woman in this film, Aura is one crazy seductress, using her hotness to persuade men to do their bidding, but beyond that she is quite smart, cunning and affectionate. The issue with this girl is that you can’t trust her or get attached to her because she acts like a bit of a slag, but I guess that’s part of her personality. Once again Muti is super hot in this role and it is impossible to not be attracted to her. Timothy Dalton was also good as Prince Barin, while Brian Blessed was totally awesome as Prince Vultan, Blessed is loud, charismatic and very memorable in this role and he stands out in most of the scenes he’s in. I also loved Peter Wyngarde as General Klytus, while you couldn’t see Wyngarde’s face, it was his voice that made me like him so much. Klytus was so strict and aggressive, he reminded me a lot of Alan Rickman. Oh and finally Mariangela Melato was fun as General Kala, she was quite over-the-top but entertaining in the role.
Now let’s talk about the presentation. Visually the film is alright. I love the costume designs as they are over-the-top, but very creative, colourful and distinctive. The art design for the worlds and interiors is pretty interesting and the special effects are okay, I really like waht they did with the sky and wormhole in space as it looked quite crazy and psychedelic, but considering that this was after Star Wars had come out, this film doesn’t look as good by comparison. As for the soundtrack, the awesomeness that is Queen handled that department while Howard Blake crafted the orchestrated. This soundtrack is very 80’s and it sounds awesome, but the main reason this soundtrack is so memorable is because of “Flash’s Theme“, long before I hand ever seen this film, this song was pretty much embedded in my mind since childhood and til this day it is one of the coolest and most manly songs in the history of life and it’s just the best thing ver in this film. I also have to note that parts of the film score sounded like it belonged on a Sega Mega Drive/Genesis with the low-pitched electronic twang that was part of the old console’s trademark sound.
And lastly how does it compare to the comics? I haven’t read the comic strips or seen the old film serials this film was based on so I can’t comment on this department.
So to conclude Flash Gordon is one of the most bizarre films I have ever seen and yet is so cool! The film definitely is an acquired taste and some probably won’t be able to take in the cheesy, strange and unrealistic nature of the film, but for those who have yet to see it, give it a try.
That’s 23 reviews done, only 7 more to go. So have you seen Flash Gordon and if so what are your thoughts on it? Drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts yo! Come back tomorrow and I’ll have a new film review online, until then peace out!