Director Mike Hodges’ Flash Gordon is a wonderfully executed piece of science fiction cinema. It’s a film which has become a much deserved cult classic since its original release way back in 1980. It will forever be known for a variety of reasons – from Brian Blessed’s bombastic Vultan (Gordon’s Alive!) and Queen’s infectious pop soundtrack to Gilbert Taylor’s lush cinematography.
The adaptation of the Alex Raymond comic strip and the 1930s movie serials, sees Sam J. Jones’ all-American football star, Flash Gordon attempting to save the universe from Max Von Sydow’s deliciously evil Ming The Merciless.
The film’s star, Sam J. Jones may faded into relative obscurity after clashing with producer Dino De Laurentiis (detailed in Lisa Downs’ Life After Flash), but Flash Gordon continues to endure 40 years after its initial release. The set design is exceptional and the cast is superb -Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, Topol, Max von Sydow, Timothy Dalton, Brian Blessed and Ornella Muti all embrace the material with relish. Screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr had already written the 1960s Batman series as well as the brilliant paranoia thrillers, Three days Of The Condor and The Parallax View – so he clearly knew what he was doing when he wrote this wonderfully energetic adventure pic.
Hodges was coming-off an unsuccessful attempt at making Damien: Omen II (he was fired during production) and he full embraced the comic book aesthetic of the Flash Gordon comic strip and the visual style of the 1930s serial starring Buster Crabbe with zeal. Many talk about it being kitsch, but Hodges film is just mirroring the style which helped make Flash Gordon so popular in the first place. It’s ironic that the film was released in the wake of George Lucas Star Wars, because it was Flash Gordon which inspired so much of Lucas’ space opera.
A wonderfully entertaining romp, there’s so much to enjoy when watching Flash Gordon, from the quotable dialogue to the set design and iconic score. Escapist cinema doesn’t get better than this!
Flash Gordon will then be released on 4K UHD Collector’s edition, Blu-ray, Steelbook, DVD and digital on 10 August 2020 by StudioCanal.