Monday, May 19, 2008

Flash Gordon

Flash Gordon ; Science-fiction, USA/ UK, 1980; D: Mike Hodges, S: Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, Max von Sydow, Topol, Ornella Muti, Timothy Dalton, Brian Blessed

Football star Flash Gordon boards a small plane together with the journalist Dale. But during their flight, storms start to gather and rocks falling from the sky, causing them to crash near a laboratory of Dr. Zarkov, who claims the disasters are caused by an alien force from space that will make the Moon collide with Earth. They board a rocket and go into space, going through a wormhole and landing on planet Mongo, where the evil dictator responsible for the disaster, Ming, has them arrested. Flash is executed, but Ming's daughter Aura brings him back to life and goes to the area of Prince Barin, who jealously tries to kill him. Still, they become friends and unite with Prince Vultan, leader of the falcon men, starting an attack with a rocket that crashes and kills Ming, just when he was about to marry Dale.

If anything, producer Dino De Laurentis at least succeeded that almost all of his films in his American phase stand out. "Flash Gordon", an adaptation of the comic book with the same title, is one of the trashy contributions to his resume. The opening title assembled out of inserts from the comic book and Queen's surreal song seems promising and charming, but when instead of epic scope and exciting adventures found in Filmation's animated "Flash Gordon: The Greatest Adventure of All" this movie presents campy style and silly scenes, the viewers will disappointingly conclude it isn't anything big. Not funny enough, lifeless, routine and somehow too much over-the-top at moments (the scene where Flash manages to defeat a dozen of Ming's soldiers by pretending to play football), equipped with a few cheap costumes (especially in the creation of the unrealistic lizard-men in rubber suits), "Gordon" is hardly anything more than a 'guilty pleasure', but, if one can simply forget about all the unused potentials, it can also be a lot of fun, undeniably deserving it's cult status. Max von Sydow is untypical in the role of the evil Ming, but has a sleazy charm while playing him, like in the scene where Dr. Zarkov asks him: "Why do you attack us?" and he answers him: "Why not?", while a few psychedelic color effects are neat. The movie is never as spectacular as it could have been, never showing for instance the Moon nearing the Earth, but it's very easily watchable.


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