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Flash Gordon

USA / UK 1980
produced by
Dino De Laurentiis for De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, Starling Films/Universal
directed by Mike Hodges
starring Sam J.Jones, Melody Anderson, Max von Sydow, Topol, Ornella Muti, Timothy Dalton, Brian Blessed, Peter Wyngarde, Mariangela Melato, John Osborne, Richard O'Brien, John Hallam, Philip Stone, Suzanne Danielle, William Hootkins, Bobbie Brown, Ted Carroll, Adrienne Kronenberg, Stanley Lebor, John Morton, Burnell Tucker, Robbie Coltrane, Peter Duncan, Ken Sicklen, Tessa Hewitt, Venetia Spicer, Francis Mughan, Oliver MacGreevy, John Hollis, Paul Bentall, Leon Greene, Graeme Crowther, Tony Scannell, David Neal, Bogdan Kominowski, George Harris, Colin Taylor, Doretta Dunkley, Sally Nicholson, Deep Roy
screenplay by Lorenzo Semple jr, based on the comic strip by Alex Raymond, adaptation by Michael Allin, music by Queen, Howard Blake

Flash Gordon

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Something is causing all kinds of natural desasters, and scientist Doctor Zarkoff (Topol) thinks it's aliens from the planet Mongo ... so he kidnaps Flash Gordon (Sam J.Jones) and Dale Arden (Melody Anderson), who have just emerged from a plane wreck, and takes them to Mongo in his rocketship he conveniently keeps in his backyard.

On Mongo, our trio immediately falls into the clutches of evil tyrant Emperor Ming (Max von Sydow), and while Ming chooses Dale as his bride and wants to brainwash Zarkoff to use his scientific mind, he orders Flash to be executed ... but Flash is saved by Ming's daughter Princess Aura (Ornella Muti), who has fallen in love with him and who takes him to Arboria, the land of the tree people led by one of Aura's lovers, Prince Barin (Timothy Dalton).

Prince Barin is less than pleased to babysit Aura's lovetoy and now and again tries to get rid of him, but after much to and fro (which also includes an escape attempt by Dale and Arkoff) Flash convinces the treemen to unite with their arch enemies, the hawkmen led by Prince Vultan (Brian Blessed) and mount an attack against Ming - which culminates in Flash driving a rocketship right into the center of Ming's imperial palace and staking Ming with it (really !).

Earth is saved, and Flash naturally gets the girl - Dale of course - while Prince Barin gets Princess Aura, who in the course of the movie has become one of the good guys.

 

It is rumoured that George Lucas originally wanted to make a series of Flash Gordon movies and only when he couldn't get the rights to Alex Raymond's character did he create his own Star Wars series - which makes perfect sense given the parallels of the Flash Gordon comic strips and serials and especially the first three parts of Star Wars (you know, the ones produced in the 1970's and 80's, not the ones that confusingly have the numbers 1 to 3 attached to it). Ironically, with the success of the Star Wars series, producer Dino De Laurentiis decided to revive the Flash Gordon-property to cash in on the new sci-fi-trend.

Die-hard Star Wars fans will of course point out that the resulting film is highly derivative of Star Wars (it is not, Star Wars is highly derivative of the Flash Gordon comic strips and serials) and is vastly inferior in special effects (which might be true, but then it's very hard these days to even see an original version of Star Wars, not the awful CGI-beefed up 1990's version). People who are not really into Star Wars and who like to take their trashy science fiction with a grain of salt however will probably enjoy Flash Gordon much more though, a self-consciously cheesy celebration of out-dated sci-fi-clichés filled up with unintentional humour and schmaltzy music by glam-rockers Queen (which is not nearly as schaltzy as John William's terrible Star Wars score though).

That said the film of course has many shortcomings, like sub-par acting, especially by leads Sam J.Jones and Melody Anderson, a plot that is dumbed down even from the Flash Gordon serials of the 1930's and 40's, and the special effects are certainly not up to the technical standards of a big budget production from 1980 - actually there were much better and more impressive effects in the sex spoof Flesh Gordon from 1974, which is the better film anyways ...

In all, no, Flash Gordon is not a good movie, but if you don't take your sci fi too seriously and are prepared for a good laugh, you might still find it entertaining in a guilty pleasure sort of way.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD