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It’s All Flash!

Published January 20, 2013 by vfdpixie

Flash Gordon

Flash Gordon (1980, 1 hr 51 mins)

So, it’s a Saturday night and sis and I decide to catch Seth MacFarlane’s Ted On Demand.  It was entertaining, albeit a tad gross and at times offensive which is the nature of his comedy.  The characters were weirdly obsessed with the 1980’s version of Flash Gordon, and Sam J. Jones who portrayed Flash makes an appearance in the film.  A week later, my sis brings a surprise home: a copy of the very same Flash Gordon from the local library.  Eager to see it through Ted’s eyes and refresh my memory (since I can’t remember if I saw this as a kid), I popped it into my player and gave it a go.

Flash, a star football player for the New York Jets, gets catapulted through an unfortunate series of events into a fantastical battle to save the Earth from destruction.  Ming the Merciless (Max von Sydow), an intergalactic overlord, is determined to discard the Earth after he’s had his fun, and the same plan applies to the lovely Dale Arden (Melody Anderson), Flash’s reluctant sidekick and love interest.  Along for the rocket ship ride is the crazed Dr. Zarkov (Topol) who has foreseen this alien threat (and basically the cause of all this brouhaha), and a host of oppressed otherworldly beings who rally behind Flash Gordon to gain their independence.

Max von Sydow is the best thing in this movie.  The seasoned actor, who played iconic roles such as Jesus Christ in The Greatest Story Ever Told and Father Merrin in The Exorcist, is ruthless, and well, merciless as Ming.  From toying with the Earth as he creates meteorological havoc, to having a snack as his daughter pleads for his mercy, Mr. von Sydow captures the perfect balance of camp and menace to carry the film.

The soundtrack and theme song was performed by Queen.  How awesome is that?!! During Ming’s forced wedding to Dale, they play the best Wedding March ever.  It’s so rock and roll and so 80’s all at once, my head almost exploded.  If I lose my mind and get married, I will most definitely walk down the aisle to this version.

I admit, I watched this movie with glee.  It’s an assault on the senses.  Colour, camp and cheese galore.  The script however, was terrible.  Just horrific, which is why I was happy there was so much to look at.  The costumes and sets were spectacular; like something out of a Las Vegas review. I loved the Hawkmen and Lizardmen costumes, and also the elaborate concubine outfits.  Since I come from a makeup background, I have to comment on the incredibly flawless looks.  Ming the Merciless looked amazing with his evilly arched brows and perfectly smokey eyes, and Princess Aura (Ornella Muti) was stunning in a modified Chinese opera look.  I loved the use of colour and metallics to create a futuristic vision a la the 1980’s.

Ming and Aura            hawkmen

I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been single for a long time, but this movie had a lot of sexual innuendo and undertones.  First, I’d like to take a moment to comment on Sam J. Jones.  He looked pretty good in Ted.  Strapping at 58, I’m sure he can still get the ladies.  I was a little surprised at myself watching Mr. Jones as Flash, because I realized he was beautiful as a young man.  I usually like my men to be more gnarly looking, but I was mesmerized by his chiselled jaw and football player’s build.  The eye candy made up for the bad acting.  And who’s idea was it to put him in a scene in nothing but a pair of leather shorts?  Freddie Mercury?!!  Because he looked good.  Like, really good.   Ahem,…anyway, everyone is basically horny and back stab each other any chance they get while clad in really tight clothing.  Never fear though, amidst all the steamy cavorting, the right backs get stabbed and the good guys prevail…or do they?

leather-clad Flash           Freddie Mercury      Tee Hee!

It’s nice to see how present day Hollywood can revive movies and actors that had blockbuster intentions but end up in the B-movie racks.  It justifies all us nerdy, B-movie loving buffs, like a giant “I told you so!” to the masses. I think this version of Flash Gordon is a kooky, fun tribute to the original 1930’s comic strip.   If you’re looking to brighten up a dull day, check out this movie for a glam, campy romp that ain’t rocket science!

Most Memorable Line: Flash and the gang have been taken prisoner and await their fate in Ming’s court.  When Flash sees how diabolical Ming is, he whispers to Dale, “This Ming is a psycho!”, which is then relayed by a flying robot tattle-tale.  Note to Flash:  this type of unedited comment will almost certainly get you singled out, start a ridiculous football inspired fight, stripped down to leather shorts and prepared for execution.

Favourite Scene:  When Princess Aura is being whipped because she helped Flash escape, she demands to see her father, Ming, who she thinks will object to her torture.  The torture chamber door slides open to reveal Ming posing just so and snacking from a glass goblet.  He refuses her pleading with a clipped “No” between bites.  Love the campy goodness!

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