Whatâ€™s up Manic Expression? Man With No Chin here to present my secret Santa blog for Les, and for this blog Iâ€™ve decided on doing a review of one of Lesâ€™s favorite movies, The 1980 Flash Gordonâ€¦
…or at least I think thatâ€™s one of his favorite movies?Â Well at any rate, Queen did the soundtrack and Les is a musician, so try not to break my balls too much over this. Anyway, for those who might not be familiar with it, Flash Gordon is a 1980 British, American sc-fi action film and is adaptation of the comic strip of the same name. It was directed by Michael Hodges whoâ€™s notable for such films as Get Carter, The Omen Two, and Morons from Outer Space (you can just forget I mentioned that last one there) and was produced by prolificÂ Italian film producer Dino De Laurentiis. It stars Sam J Jones as the titular character, along with Melody Anderson, Max Von Sydow, Chaim Topol, Timothy Dalton, and BRIAN BLESSED! Its screen play was written by Lorenzo Semple Jr who mostly notable wrote many episodes for the 60s Batman tv series, and it shows in the movie. Upon its release it was considered a flop everywhere outside the UK but it has since been vindicated as a major cult classic beloved by fans for how intentionally campy and fun it is.
Alright, thatâ€™s enough basic info Iâ€™ve dumped on you. Letâ€™s move on to the plot.
The story so far *Spoilers*
So the movie begins with a man thrusting his penis intoâ€¦ Whoa! That doesnâ€™t sound right. Ah I see, Iâ€™m thinking of the porno version Flesh Gordon, my mistake. Letâ€™s see hereâ€¦alright, here we are, FLASH Gordon!Â So the movie begins with a view of Earth being observed through some type of monitoring screen. Through voice over we hear Emperor Ming the Merciless of the Planet Mongo tell his number 2 (hehe, number 2) Klytus that heâ€™s bored and he asks him if thereâ€™s any new planets he can fuck with. So of course Klytus points him the direction of Earth, at which point Ming triggers a devastating earthquake and he and Klytus share a good laugh at the destruction, because theyâ€™re evil…and theyâ€™re dicks. Klytus then asks if Ming if he will destroy Earth completely, at which Ming basically declares â€œEh, maybe later. Iâ€™ll just fuck with them for nowâ€ (Iâ€™m paraphrasing that obviously, but thatâ€™s the gist of it). Â And so he proceeds to screw with earth by causing what appear to be natural disasters to occur, but of course they are anything but natural.
Meanwhile back on earth, Flash Gordon, quarterback for the New York Jets (originally a polo player in the old comic strips, interestingly enough) is awaiting a small plane. It arrives and once on board, he meets travel agent Dale Arden and they hit it off pretty quickly, but soon their meeting is derailed when a meteorite caused by Mingâ€™s toying with of earth hits the plane and the pilots are incapacitated. Flash is forced to try and take control but they end up crashing into the green house of disgraced former scientist of NASA Dr Hans Zarkov and his assistant, Munson. Zarkov, whoâ€™s just a tad bit bat shit crazy at this point, believes correctly that the recent wave of disasters is being caused by an outside force and he has secretly built a rocket so he and his assistant can go up into space and stop whoever is causing it all. Yes, his plan is to take himself and his pudgy assistant into space to fight aliens with no backup or anything. Again, it should be emphasized that Zarkov is kind of insane.
So knowing what a stupid ass plan this is, his assistant refuses to join him on the expedition, at which point Zarkov threatens him at gun point. He proceeds to run away which causes a disheartened Zarkov to ask â€œMunson, why are you running away?â€ (Funniest line in the movie, by the way).Â So then Flash and Dale arrive and they ask him if thereâ€™s a phone they can use to call for help and he takes this opportunity to lure them into the rocket ship. He then plans to take off to Mongo with just Dale and himself but Flash intervenes and through a brief struggle the rocket ends up taking off with all three of them. On their way there, they pass out and then weâ€™re treated to an acid sequence as the ship enters Mongoâ€™s solar system. Upon crashing on the planet, they are immediately taken prisoner by Mingâ€™s forces and brought to his palace.
Once there, they are greeted by a spherical, floating monitoring bot thingy which proceeds to zap the fuck out of an escaping lizard man. It then takes them to the throne room where a tribute is being held for the emperor. It is here that they and subsequently us the audience are introduced to the strangeness and splendor that is Mongo. Itâ€™s an amazing techno color world of aliens, scantily-clad women, andâ€¦midgets on leashes? I did say it was strange. So anyway, we get introduced to our supporting characters which include, Prince Voltan ruler of the Hawkmen and Prince Barin of the Arborians. We also finally get introduced to the big man himself, Emperor Ming along with his right hand man and head of Mongoâ€™s secret police, Klytus, and Mingâ€™s sexy ass Daughter, Aura .
As the tribute proceeds, one race, the Â Ardentians, inform Ming that they have nothing of material to offer as he had previously destroyed their empire, so their ruler Prince Thun offers his loyality without measure instead. Ming asks him to prove how loyal he is and orders him to fall on his sword. Thun instead takes this opportunity to try and assassinate Ming but Ming paralyzes him with his ring of power and then he stabs that mother fucker with his own sword. After witnessing this act of brutality, Flash notes that â€œThis Ming is a psychoâ€ which the monitoring bot (or Snitch Bot 5000 as it will now be called) hears this and relays it to Ming. Our heroes get called out and they introduce themselves, but Dale catches Ming’s eye and he takes an interest in her and orders that she be prepared for hisâ€œpleasureâ€.
Naturally, Flash isn’t having any of that shit so when Ming’s guards try to haul off with Dale, he engages them in some football style combat and we get probably the most awesome scene in the movie, what with the music and how over the top it is. Seriously, just watch this one scene and tell me it’s not fucking great. It practically epitomizes the whole movie and why it’s so loved. Okay, I’m getting off track. So the fun is cut short when Flash ends up getting knocked the fuck out and is taken away. Ming orders that for his defiance that he be executed shortly and that Zarkov be reprogrammed.
Ming’s daughter Aura, who has taken an interest in Flash, pleads with her father that he be spared, but he refuses. In Mongo’s dungeons, Flash demands that he see the governor. Klytus visits him and he demands to him that he be able to see Dale. He obliges him and he and Dale reunite and they try to convince themselves that everything so far has just been a bad dream but they know better. Shortly after, Flash is brought to before the gas chamber in nothing but his short shorts (something for the ladies I guess). He’s strapped to the chair and then gas begins filling the chamber.
And that’s as far I go. *Narrator voice* Will Flash survive? Will the Earth be saved?
…Uh, yes and yes. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything when I say this movies going to have a happy ending, but as to how any of that transpires or how the rest of the movie plays out, I dare not spoil any further. Let’s get into the characters next.
Â Flash Gordon (played by Sam Jones): Our hero of the movie, Flash is pretty much the good-est of good guys. Idealistic, slightly naive, and an all around nice guy throughout the majority of the movie. Normally this would make him an extremely boring and flat protagonist to have around, but he’s just likeable enough that he doesn’t end up dragging down every scene that he’s in. Plus the movie’s supporting characters help prop him up somewhat. Interesting note: That’s not actually Sam Jones’s voice in the movie. Apparently Jones had a dispute with the director and producer and left before post production could get started, so all his lines had to be dubbed over by an as of still today unknown VA.
Dale Arden (played by Melody Anderson): Travel agent and Flash’s love interest, Dale is for the most part a damsel in distress but she has a few moments where she’s able to inexplicably kick some ass and she is shown to be resourceful at times, so it is something of a refreshing departure from that old cliche.
DR Hans Zarkov (played by Chaim Topol): A former scientist at NASA, Zarkov was fired for his insane theories about how aliens were secretly attacking the earth. When we first meet him, he’s living in seclusion with his assistant and he’s already quite paranoid and insane at that point. Despite being well off his rocker, he’s still the next most well intentioned character in the film right next to Flash and is very much an idealist who’s completely willing to sacrifice himself if it means saving the earth.
Emperor Ming the Merciless (played by Max Von Sydow): Mongo’s supreme ruler, Ming is an absolute despot, needlessly cruel and demanding of his subject’s unwavering loyalty. He manages to stay in power by having all the races of Mongo constantly fighting and at each other’s throats so as to prevent them from ever banding together to revolt against him. Just as Flash can be considered a paragon of virtue, Ming is way on the other end and is pure evil and is clearly enjoying every minute of being so.
Prince Barin (played by Timothy Dalton): The ruler of Arboria, Barin is a bit of a prick and the majority of the scenes he shares with Flash is of him trying to kill him, but with that said he’s not without honor and he does actually want to overthrow Ming. He’s also in a relationship with Aura despite the fact the she’s sleeping around with everyone on Mongo and he doesn’t seem to mind much until she starts getting close to Flash. That’s where he draws the line I guess.
Prince Vultan (played by BRIAN BLESSED!): King of the Hawkmen, Vultan like Prince Barin is not the nicest guy on Mongo but manages to come off as far more of a loveable rogue than an outright prick due to his boisterousness personality and larger than life attitude, qualities that just come naturally when you’re played by BRIAN BLESSED! You just gotta love the guy. He also apparently has a daughter who only shows up for about a few seconds so Klytus can threaten her, never says a word, and then leaves and is never seen or even mentioned ever again. It’s weird.
Princess Aura (played by Ornella Muti): Princess of Mongo and Ming’s daughter, Like her father she starts off as somewhat cold (albeit no where near as ruthless as him) person for whom emotions like sadness are an alien concept, but gradually throughout the movie she begins to warm up a little. She’s also apparently boinking everyone on Mongo, well everyone except Klytus that is. I guess everyone has standards.
General Klytus (played by Peter Wyngarde) Ming’s right hand guy and the head of Mongo’s secret police, Klytus is a snarky bastard who tends to look down on everyone and always carries an ere of condescension with him. He is apparently obsessed with Princess Aura as he’s the only guy on Mongo she’s not screwing around with, which may or may not be due to the fact that he looks like the fucking Grim Reaper.
Dude…It’s Queen, so of course it has an awesome and memorable soundtrack. I think when you hear the â€œFLASH AWWWWâ€ you know you’re in for some seriously retarded ass fun.
Well what else can you say about Flash Gordon other than it’s just a fun kick ass movie? Sure it’s not particularly deep or hell, even really that good in the traditional sense of what can be considered a good movie, but it makes up for that by knowing exactly what it is and running with it, and what it is is a colorful, cheesy, Sc-Fi action extravaganza that doesn’t take itself too seriously. So if you’re able to keep that in mind, you should be able to enjoy it as much as I did.
So that was my review. I hope you enjoyed it and-
Snitch Bot 5000: Man with No Chin!
Snitch Bot 5000: You have reviewed the movie! Have a nice day!
YEAH!!! *freeze frame* (You’ll understand this once you’ve seen the movie).