Countdown
January 1998

Flash Gordon Logo
    This months movie is Flash Gordon.  This is one of those films that many people consider actually quite good and others absolutely hate.  One of those people who likes it is Leonard Maltin, that weasely guy from Entertainment Tonight.  He gave this film three stars out of four.  Mister Benson and Professor Graves also like thins film, but I don't care for it as much, mostly due to the weak scientific performance of Doctor Hans Zarkoff.

The Video Tape BoxAnyway, this film was made in 1980 and directed by Mike Hodges.  This guy wrote the screenplay for Damien: The Omen II as well as writing and directing the Terminal Man.  It stars a few big names, several nobodies who would become big names and a few nobodies who still are.

    Here's the deal.  Cool beginning where during the credits, they show animation stills from the old pulp comics and we are made aware of the groovy fact that all of the music for the film was done by Queen!  Great start.  You know things are going to be good, just like in Highlander.  Ming The Merciless (played by perennial bad guy Max Von Sydow) attacks Earth with disasters like earthquakes and "Hot Hail."  His voice has just the right level of menace to it and in my opinion was the best choice for playing this classic villain.  Oh, by the way, we haven't actually seen him yet.

    We cut to some regional airport and there is Flash played by Sam J. Jones.  He was in the movie 10 and some other crappy flicks.  He was also a set decorator in several films including White Line Fever starring Jan-Michael Vincent.  He's quite the pretty boy, but in a purely gay sense.  We also get our look at Dale Arden played by Melody Anderson who was in Firewalker with Chuck Norris and Lou Gossett Jr.  This was absolutely bad casting. Zarkoff Kidnaps Flash and DaleShe needed to be more like the Dale Arden from the serials . . . Kim Catrell would have been an excellent choice for this role.

    Long story short, they get caught in a funky storm, the pilots disappear, Flash takes control of the plane, then crashes it (jocks) right by Doctor Hans Zarkoff's pad.  Hans, played by Topol, the dude from Fiddler on the Roof and the Greek guy from the James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only, has seen this coming (how is not quite clear) and has built a rocket ship.  He kidnaps Flash and Dale because his lackey hauled ass, and they shoot off into space.  Queen does some semi-psychedelic music for the traveling scenes and who knew, suddenly they are in the Mongo system, landing right at Ming's palace . . . ahh the high tech guidance systems of Hollywood.

Vultan    Seems that there is some sort of tribute thing going on and this is where we get our first look at all of the main characters of the film.  There's Vultan, leader of the Hawkmen, played by Brian Blessed who has done mostly Shakespeare stuff, but played Lord Locksley in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.  Then there's Barin, Prince Barinleader of the Tree Guys played by Timothy Dalton who was James Bond for a while because NBC wouldn't let Pierce Brosnan out of that Remmington Steele deal.  Oh and there are some other people like these lizard dudes and this black dude who tries to kill Ming but ends up eating his own sword.  Big bright costumes here.

    Flash calls the ball on Ming and an obscenely inane fight scene erupts involving Flash using some egg gem as a football and basically showing his only fighting skill.  The other leader types also beat up some of Ming's guys (Vultan specifically and some midgets as well) purely for comical value.  In the end Flash gets his ass kicked because Zarkoff accidentally knocked him out and is sentenced to death.  Now as a scientist, I know for a fact, we do not get involved in fights, we stand back and analyze. Oh, and love seems to blossom all over Mongo City.  First Ming falls for Dale when he put her under a sex spell that made her do things to her body. . . which we can dig.  Then Ming's daughter Aura falls for Flash and begs her father not to kill him, but he tells her to get bent.  Oh and Zarkoff is gonna get his brain washed.Gimme The Ball Coach

    Aura has a plan.  We all think Flash is executed, but she got some science guy to fakeDaddy's Girl Flashes death and hauls ass with him to Barin's world, because as well as being in love with Flash, she still wants Barin.  Zarkoff has his brain washed by General Klytus, but not before Zarkoff is informed that he is responsible for Earth being trashed by Ming.  While they scrub his brain, there is a scene where he reminisces over the fact that Hitler had promise as a despot.  Zarkoff whines a lot in this scene.  Then this lackey chick of Klytus' fills Zarkoff's mind with ass loads of information, contrary to Klytus' orders.  I'm telling you, nobody trusts nobody in this flick.

    While on his way to Barin's planet, Flash has a telepathic chat with Dale and we get the idea that he proposes to her.  Then they land on Barin's planet and Barin isn't too keen on this.  Aura leaves to head back to Mingo City and as soon as she does Flash has his ass put in a cage.  Oh and Dale escapes from Ming by getting this slave girl drunk.  She actually does more ass kicking than Flash has so far.  Chicks with guns, you gotta love it.  She hooks up with the brainwashed Zarkoff who was able to withstand the brainwashing and they escape Ming's place.  As a bonus, Aura has her ass whipped by Klytus and his people under direct orders of Ming.  A truly loving family.

Flash Kicks Barins AssZarkoff and Dale arrive at Vultans sky palace and tell him that Flash lives.  Barin tricks Flash so he can kill him without pissing off Aura, so he lets him escape and get caught.  He has to do this initiation thing where he sticks his hand in a stump where this stinging thing is.  He survives and then fools Barin and escapes, only to be nearly eaten by this spider thingy and just when he is about to be caught by Barin, Vultan comes in and kidnaps them both to ransom to Ming.

    Barin and Flash have a duel on this spiky platform thing with whips (see a trend here) Flash saves him from falling to his death. Ow, My BackBarin pledges his loyalty to Flash and tries to con Vultan into joining.  Klytus hits the city but gets killed on the spikes.  The Hawkmen haul ass from their palace.  Ming comes in and takes Barin, Zarkoff and Dale, but leaves Flash after he wouldn't cut a deal with him.  Flash escapes from the city just before it is blown to hell and gets Vultan to join up to fight Ming.

    Back in Mingo City, the two chicks have a cat fight and she gives Dale a poison to kill Ming, but she won't use it.  She has to marry Ming.  Flash and the Hawkmen attack the city but get pushed back. Dale's Looking HotThey then have this big battle to capture this space ship.  All during this time, the wedding is going on and Queen did this really cool wedding music for the scene.  Aura breaks Barin and Zarkoff out of prison and Zarkoff heads out to stop the machinery that is causing earth's moon to freak out.  After capturing the rocket, Flash and the Hawkmen use it to make a kamikaze attack on Mongo City.  The end result is they crash the wedding and save the earth with just a few seconds left.  The reason this wraps up so quick is because it wraps up that quick in the film.  Oh and Ming is impaled in the tip of the space ship, Barin is made ruler of Mongo, and Vultan

    So there you have it.  This movie is a funny movie in that it is one of those films that some people just love, and others absolutely hate (like many of the films in the GDI collection).  There are several pages on the World Wide Web just for this movie.  The only useful and cool site is The Unofficial Flash Gordon Movie Page.  It's a pretty good one.

 

 



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