“Did you like it?”
“I’m not even sure what was going on.”
“In what way? There’s the bad guys and then there’s Flash.”
“I’m not sure what Flash Gordon really did. Other than crash his ship into the evil lair at the end.”
Flash Gordon (1980) would be forgotten, or continued to be forgotten, if it weren’t for Seth MacFarlane’s ribald references to it in his movie “Ted” which opened this weekend. It is one of those expensive cheese-o-ramas that would go filed under worst movies ever or awesome bad movies, depending on who you are.
In this shameless comic book x-stasy, Earth gets showered by “hot hail” in the opening sequences, and it’s up to New York Jets quarterback Flash Gordon (Sam J. Jones), his babe (Melody Anderson), and a scientist (Topol) to fly through the galaxy and avenge the attacking alien planet. Freddie Mercury of the British rock band Queen not only sings the cover tune, but composed most of the music. The lavish set design is so outrageously gaudy it makes Oliver Stone’s “Alexander” and Tarsem Singh’s “Immortals” look tame in comparison.
There isn’t a better mindless movie to watch on a mind-putty night. I was exhausted after a day of other movies, driving parents around (yea, I’m editorializing personal stuff here), a long cardio walk with the wife, an epic dinner, tweeting, popping foot blisters. We wrapped up some ice packs in a blankie to cool the summer heat, put on “Flash Gordon” in the bedroom, not my living room surround-sound theater, and plunked back on six cushy pillows and my teddy bear. My head was as blank as a one-year old this day. All for the better.
On the alien planet Mongo, where Emperor Ming (Max von Sydow) uses molecule-disintegrating laser guns on his enemies, Flash gets into an immediate football mode by breaking henchmen’s faces with a round green ball. I have no idea why Flash is executed twice, but a goddess, a.k.a. Princess Aura (Ornella Muti), gives him the resurrecting kiss of life. Once resuscitated, Flash gets the gift of telepathy (he hardly uses it) and engages alliances with another jungle men resistance group led by Prince Baron (Timothy Dalton, very wooden). While some men have wings, Flash eventually gets a hovering jet ski that dodges the castle’s multi-rotor laser guns that shoots off in un-tangential directions.
Geez, “Family Guy’s” Seth MacFarlane could make fun of this all day. In a loving way. If his power clout increases, he should do a remake, something like “Flash Gordon: The Queen Rock Opera” or “Flash Gordon: Attack of the Clones.” Please don’t turn this camp classic off until you get to the ending.
93 Minutes. Rated PG.
Film Cousins: “Barbarella” (1968); “Super Inframan” (1975, China); “Logan’s Run” (1976); “Ted” (2012).