Monday, October 24, 2016

Sci Fi Top 100, #74: "Flash Gordon" (1980)

Movie Stats:
Released 1980 (USA)
American & British, in English
Director - Mike Hodges
Stars - Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, Haim Topol, Max von Sydow

Plot Summary:
Football star Flash Gordon (Jones) and his new gal pal Dale Arden (Anderson) are pulled by scientist Dr. Hans Zarkov (Topol) into a fight to save Earth. Von Sydow plays Emperor Ming, the bad guy they’re fighting.

Violence; minor gore; very, very minor blue language.

Bad Stuff:
It’s extremely cheesy. For example, in one early scene, Flash is trying to fight bad guys but is really bad at it until someone hands him something shaped like a football and then he kicks ass. I mean, come on.

More and more, I’m beginning to wish that action movies would stop shoehorning in love stories. It’s simply not believable. It’s also not interesting or necessary. I could not care less if Flash and Dale end up together. (I assume they’re together in the comic book but they didn’t have to try to cram it into the movie.)

A lot of the special effects have not aged well.

Good Stuff:
It’s got some great actors. I especially enjoyed the performances of Brian Blessed, as bird man Prince Vultan, and Timothy Dalton as Prince Barin.

Frankly, it’s far more coherent than I was expecting. The plot is fairly simple, but I like that. I like that Ming’s motivations are uncomplicated. Why destroy Earth? Because it amuses him. I enjoy pure evil villains.

It’s fun and it has a good heart. I like Flash’s can-do attitude.

The Verdict:
I was not looking forward to this one and I can’t say that I expected it to be any good. A cinematic masterpiece it definitely is not, but I’ve seen worse films. Yes, a lot of it is incredibly cheesy, and the romantic storylines made me roll my eyes, and the special effects are frequently lacking. However, I liked its positive spirit, the costuming & set design, and that it went big. You can tell it was a big-budget film (IMDB estimates 20 mill, which is about 61.5 mill in today’s dollars). It’s not a film I’m going to watch more than once, but I’m glad I ticked it off the “never seen” list.

I give it 3 stars.


Patricia said...

I have the theme song playing in my head right now. But the theme song is as far as I've gotten with this movie. Perhaps someday.

balyien said...

It's one of those songs that's very easy to get stuck in your head! Family Guy did a pretty funny homage to this film, but I can't say that I "got" it until recently.