MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
This campy 80s adaptation of the classic comic strip and serial comes to vibrant life on Blu-ray. Playgirl model Sam J. Jones plays New York Jets quarterback Flash Gordon, who is accidentally shot off of Earth in a rocket ship with the beautiful agent Dale Arden (Melody Anderson) and Dr. Hans Zakrov (Topol). They fly off to the world of Mongo where Ming the Merciless is toying with the Earth before he plans to destroy it. Flash unites the kingdoms of Mongo to fight against Ming and save billions of lives.
WHAT I LIKED
I remember seeing this movie as a kid, when it was released in the height of the “Star Wars” rip-off phase. And while this version of “Flash Gordon” is about as far from being a quality sci-fi flick like “Star Wars” as it can be, it’s a hell of a lot of fun to watch.
From the roller disco set design to the cheesy special effects, “Flash Gordon” is a remnant of the 80s that makes me long for the decade. It’s ridiculous in its presentation but fantastic in is scope. It was a little beyond me when I saw it as a nine-year-old kid, but looking back on the spectacle that “Flash Gordon” was, I can’t help but love it.
This is like a drug-induced sexy fever dream of what the 80s had turned into for much of science fiction cinema. I am reluctant to call “Flash Gordon” a quality movie, but it’s a great experience.
And one can’t talk about this film without giving a nod to the awesome musical score by Queen. I still find it hard to resist yelling, “Ah-haaaa! Savior of the universe!” whenever I hear someone say, “Flash.”
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Let’s face it… this isn’t high art. It has all the problems of pop films of the 80s. The characters are shallow. There’s no logical explanation for the love connections in the film, beyond blind lust. The effects are terrible, even for the day. And the story falls into cliche at every turn. This is nothing more than a big-budget cinematic version of the “Buck Rogers” television show.
But dammit if I don’t love watching it.
The new Blu-ray comes with all the special features from the special edition DVD released a couple years ago, including an interview with comic artist Alex Ross, a look at the screenwriter and the first episode of the 1936 “Flash Gordon” serial.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Children of the 80s.