Flash Gordon (1980)

Flash Gordon (1980), directed by Mike Hodges.


Pathetic earthlings. Hurling your bodies out into the void, without the slightest inkling of who or what is out here. If you had known anything about the true nature of the universe, anything at all, you would've hidden from it in terror.

I saw this in the theater. In the next row were two serious science fiction fans, very unhappy. I've always wanted serious SF in films too, but after a while you get tired of waiting and just want to have fun. Here they turn the Silly Dial up to 10. And sometimes to 11, which is too much: when the Hawkman says "they just winged me", or when they play the Wedding March for Ming's nuptials, I just wish they hadn't.

Still, you have to give them credit for achieving what they intended. No suspension of disbelief required, because there is no intended believable world. Time has made the production more than a bit clunky, but it still has an amount of grandeur. The music helps. There are moments when we glimpse a possibly more serious treatment.

Max von Sydow was born to play Ming the Merciless. All those years with Ingmar Bergman were just prelude. His Ming is more believable than his Jesus.

Brian Blessed and Timothy Dalton: I admire those distinguished British actors who will do anything. Ornella Muti: yeow. The only other picture I remember her in was Swann in Love (1984). Everyone else: good job. What happened to you afterwards?

Back then I wanted one of the space shuttles to be named "War Rocket Ajax". Dear Dale Arden: how does doing a cartwheel improve your aim? I wondered the same thing in The Matrix. The woodbeast is kind of cool, as is the swamp spider thing. Some of the laser blast and energy field effects look like the video games popular at the time.

I counted the word "pleasure" used with lewd emphasis 7 times. It's a PG film.

Available on Blu-ray. I notice it was filmed with some sort of star filter in some scenes, most noticeable when there is a lot of sparkly jewelry. That can't help the fine detail.