Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Flash Gordon (Film Review)

See this film before you die. No, really, this is a motion picture which needs to be witnessed to be fully appreciated. Even if you’re not a fan of science fiction, even if you’re utterly averse to all films, even if you utterly despise over the top camp productions, you need to see this film at least once.

The entire film's can be summed up in this one shot.
Well, except for Freddie Mercury.
 Based upon the comic strips, film and serials of the mid 1930s and early 40s, Flash Gordon is astoundingly loyal to its origins. Insanely so, with every eye searingly bright colour, gaudy backgrounds, ridiculous outfits being taken from its source material, all of which is presented without any hint of self concious humour. It carries every ludicrous point of its plot and aspect of its total insanity with the utmost sincerity and as if the actors were in a Shakespearean stage production.
Max Von Sydow plays the role of Ming the Merciless as the exact definition of a Saturday morning cartoon overlord who makes every mistake possible, but with complete and utter seriousness. Almost to the point where you can actually begin to buy into the character himself. Even BRIAN BLESSED’s Vultan, who is fittingly bombastic, loud and essentially a flying space Viking, is portrayed without any intentional self parody.

Watching this film is like seeing an extremely good joke told by a straight faced deadpan comedian for an hour while duels between Shakespearian actors take place behind him and Queen occasionally appears to perform music.

The film’s story is, fittingly, very stock. Emperor Ming attacks earth because he’s evil and the protagonists head up to try and stop him in a home made rocket. Being initially captured by Ming’s forces, they soon end up leading a rebellion and trying to prevent the earth being destroyed.
There’s not much else to it than that, and most of the actual flesh of the film comes from characters interacting/scheming against one another, to an almost hilarious extent, and the action scenes. The latter of these two points is really what holds up the film, with Mike Hodges using his experience as a director to film some fairly good action sequences and take full advantages of the special effects.
You can draw comparisons between his filming style in Get Carter and this film, yes the man who did Get Carter directed this mountain of cheese and camp, but if you’re looking for that sort of thing you’re not watching the film in the right way. Having your brain switched on will only detract from the fun of watching it and make the many plot holes and leaps in logic all the more obvious to you.
The soundtrack ranges from Queen songs to more Queen songs. There’s not much else I can say about that besides, well, this.

It’s definitely not a great film, anything which requires you not to think can’t be classed as “great”, but damn if it’s not one of the best examples of camp, fun films from the 80s.
Definitely get this one if you can find it on DVD.


Flash Gordon and all related characters and media are owned by Universal Studios and was produced by the Dino De Laurentiis Company.

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