For no other reason than to alleviate boredom, an unknown
aggressor toys with the Earth prior to its planned destruction,
by directing freak weather conditions and laughing uproariously
like the egotistical megalomaniac he is. American football
star Flash Gordon and Dale Arden are hit by the sudden conditions,
causing their pilot to be lost, and obliging Flash to crash
land the light aircraft... on the laboratory of ex-NASA scientist
Dr Hans Zarkov. The seemingly mad Zarkov manages to get them
on his rocket which he aims at an anomaly in space he believes
is attacking the Earth. They are soon arrested and taken to
a palace where different races are paying fealty to Ming the
Merciless, Emperor of the Universe. When Ming heartlessly
kills a man, Flash disrupts the proceedings and for his troubles
is sentenced to death in a gas chamber. Not a good day for
anyone ... even a square-jawed hero. Can he escape and rescue
the doctor from his mind conditioning and Dale from her fate
as a concubine? Stay tuned, same time, same DVD to find out!...
are two ways the making of this film could have been approached.
One was to play it serious and hard-hitting, to reinvent the
old comics and serials from the 1930s, the other to pay tribute
to the serial's regular slices of ham and drama. With the
former idea the format would have had to be spot on to succeed,
but thankfully they chose the later.
This loud and colourful tongue-in-cheek version throws an
open nod and wink in homage to the black and white days of
Saturday morning kids cinema, with thrills, spills and kills.
The balance is just right. The characters are all played purposefully
over-the-top (particularly Brian Blessed's portrayal of Prince
Vultan of the Hawkmen, which is like a cross between Santa
Claus and the Jolly Green Giant), and Melody Anderson's Dale
Arden flits between helpless girly and action heroine. Who
can forget the immortal line, "Flash, I love you, but we only
have fourteen hours to save the Earth!" Believe it or not
Max Von Sydow's Ming is the most intelligently understated
acting, even though he's supposed to be the evil villain.
this movie is like a game of Who's Who. Aside from
the aforementioned, there's Timothy Dalton, Topol, and shorter
appearances by Peter Wyngarde, Susan Danielle, Robbie Coltrane,
Peter Duncan, and the excellent Richard O'Brien.
accompanying soundtrack by rock giants Queen fits the mood
of the piece exactly, being both quirky and dramatic. You
can tell that they all fully entered into the spirit of the
thing to achieve a piece which undoubtedly enhances the whole.
DVD extras include a trailer, a Mike Hodges interview, photo
gallery, and an episode of the original Flash Gordon
series, starring Buster Crabbe (which gives you an inkling
of just how well this film has captured the mood).
I doubt very much that this is a film people will want to
watch over and over, but it is great fun. All together now,
"Flash! Ah, ah ..."