Friday, October 28, 2016

Flash Gordon: The Greatest Adventure of All

Flash Gordon: The Greatest Adventure of All; animated science-fiction, USA, 1982; D: Gwen Wetzler, S: Robert Ridgely, Diane Pershing, Bob Holt, Ted Cassidy, Vic Perrin, Melendy Britt

World War II. Flash Gordon meets journalist Dale in a plane, and saves her by parachuting out when the plane crashes due to meteor bombardment. They land in the laboratory of Dr. Zarkov, who brings them into his spaceship that flies into space - to a nearby orange planet that showed up in Earth's orbit, Mongo. They land there and meet a lion-man, Thun. All are arrested by the forces of dictator Ming, who is directing the planet towards Earth in order to conquer it, and he also gave part of his advanced weapons to his Earth ally, Hitler. Flash manages to persuade the three different kingdoms to unite against Ming. He stops the wedding and battles Ming, but the latter turns out to be just a robot - the real Ming escaped in the meantime. Flash destroys Ming's laboratory, which stops Mongo from colliding into Earth.

This animated feature length adaptation of the famous "Flash Gordon" comic-book is one of the darker and more violent achievements from the Filmation animation studios, yet despite a rather simplistic storyline and formulaic dialogues without much chance for the film making audacity to truly rise to the occasion, it is a better version of the comic-book than Hodges' '80 eponymous live action adaptation. There are several grim moments (the sequence where mole men are captured by the roots and drawn into the ground; the giant lizard attacking Dale as soon as Flash and his crew land on Mongo with the spaceship), some of which are even surprisingly surreal (the subplot where it is implied that Hitler is Ming's servant on Earth, using the advanced weapons to establish his alien tyranny on Earth), yet the movie has just enough flair to transgress this camp into a rather satisfying piece of entertainment in the form of a typical good vs. evil fashion. The most expressionistic moment is the finale where planet Mongo is threatening to collide with the Earth, with a aesthetic scene of Earth seen on Mongo's sky, which reminds of animated TV show "Queen Millennia" released just a year earlier.


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