Flash Gordon (1980) – “The Angular Vector of the Moon!”

Flash Gordon (1980) – “The Angular Vector of the Moon!”

Genre: Science Fiction Director: Mike Hodges Starring: Scott J. Jones, Topol, Melody Anderson, Max Von Sydow, Brian Blessed, Timothy Dalton

What’s this? You’ve had weeks of consistent reviews and editorials, a secret Star Wars project on the way and you’re getting more? Well I wouldn’t have believed that myself. Any more than I would have believed that Flash Gordon turned out to be the greatest thing created by anyone ever!

You may think that this is exaggeration, or attempts at comedy, but I must really stress that the adventures of Mr Gordon, taking us into an epic Queen-soundtracked adventure, is perhaps one of the most glorious pieces of media that I’ve watched…

Now it isn’t great in the most critical sense of the word; it is of course cheesy, erratically acted and has some interesting ideas about themes and design, but you should still totally watch this.. you need to see how delightful this adventure is.

I’m not even sure where to start really…

I suppose I could mention the plot.. we follow American Football star Flash Gordon (Sam J. Jones) and his friends he’s just met, Dale Arden (Melody Anderson) and Dr Hans Zarkov (Topol) as they fly to the planet Mongo (hmm..) where they encounter the evil emperor Ming the Merciless. (Max von Sydow) Its up to them and an assortment of strange creatures and allies (Lizard men!) to defeat the emperor and save the universe, truly a ballad for the ages! (Can you tell what role the female actor will play yet?)

Image belongs to Universal Pictures, Starling Films and Dino De Laurentiis Company

Oh, so much to talk about… how about I start with the acting, because that’s always a treat… Mr Gordon, which his interesting acting ability is a clear stand out among all these hammy and overdone gems of dialogue that come out. We of course need some grounding in this crazy adventure unfolding before our eyes, and Sam Jones’s broad range certainly accomplishes that feat. Why, the eloquence of his words, and the glory of his image is a sight to behold for any mere mortal, that it is a small wonder that he is able to turn enemy to friend within the space of a few minutes! Not even the likes of Captain Picard of Star Trek or Gandalf in Lord of the Rings could accomplish such feats.

And as for the others, why do I even need to go on, they have Brian Blessed in it, at perhaps his most Brian Blessed that Brian Blessed has ever blessed us with. The marvellous range of hammy-ness and the delightfulness of their evil adversaries only serves to give this strange world such a sense of life and style.

Oh and if you thought that Princess Leia’s attire in Return of the Jedi represented the peak of costume design and acting, then you’d be all wrong and then some; we’ve got everything from exotic dancers, to roman…norse….germanic… hawkmen to green costumed tree men, and Maleficent-style imperial commanders that make this world a true masterpiece in terms of casting and design choices. Also Lizard Men!! Why, it has to be wholly original, certainly nothing in the 1980s or the original Flash Gordon comics could encourage such a design aesthetic for the court and palace of Ming the Merciless. Why would anybody have a problem with these things? Its not like anyone would look at this and say, “is this what they think of us?” I’m sure there’d be absolutely no negative consequences to that whatsoever!

And the action scenes… breathtaking….

Oh and by the lord, the soundtrack! Bringing Queen in to have an entire soundtrack was nothing short of genius! Its not like they had anything to do in 1980, I’m sure they were delighted to fill their time with such an important work of art. Their work here has the potential to dominate even my favourite song by them ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (no that’s going too far now…)

And as for quotes? We’ve got memorable lines aplenty:

“Check the angular vector of the moon!!”

“Not the boreworms” (what are the boreworms?)

“All creatures will make merry, on pain of death”

“Gordon’s Alive?!!” (Read in Brian Blessed voice obviously)

I really could go on, you’ll just have to see for yourself what true art awaits! I promise you won’t regret that one bit!

Image belongs to Universal Pictures, Starling Films and Dino De Laurentiis Company

…. okay, serious faces now people;

Flash Gordon truly did surprise me though. I’d heard of it by reputation, even watched a few minutes of it in the past, but only when encouraged to watch it did I truly appreciate how brilliant it was. It’s hammy, it’s acting is…interesting to say the least, and it has some questionable design choices that probably would be difficult to hold up by today’s standards. But there’s just so much here that gave me one of the biggest laughs that I’ve had for any film.

Flash Gordon is one of those “so bad it’s good” experiences that made watching it truly worth it, its certainly something I will be remembering for years to come.

Rating: 5/5 (Masterpiece levels of cheesiness and awfulness!)

P.S I should also note that a lot of this film could be adapted for more… well more interesting viewing, and if that doesn’t get people curious, I don’t know what will.

Image belongs to Universal Pictures, Starling Films and Dino De Laurentiis Company Lizard Men!!

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