Only 14 Hours To Save The Earth

Posted Monday, April 27, 2015, 7:37 AM


Faced with bringing pulp comic book hero Flash Gordon into the modern age, the creators quickly abandoned all hope of adapting it into anything sensible without losing its charm. So without hesitation they leap into corny cheese with their arms wide and all semblance of logic cut off at the pass.

I like how you decorated the place.

Once again, simulcast with JetSimian, Al, and Jamas.

The recent attempt at adapting John Carter of Mars has a lot of plot similarities to the adventures of Flash Gordon. An ordinary man finds himself in a strange alien world, filled with exotic cultures in lavish costumes, with a brutal culture and a war brewing they enlist their hero to use his unorthodox methods to aid them in their fight.

Careful, Flash, or our wires will snag!

This time Flash, Sam Jones, brings along spunky Dale Arden, Melody Anderson, when the potentially treacherous Doctor Zarkov, Topol, kidnaps them to help him fly his rocket ship to escape earth and its impending doom. It's a parade of unmotivated weirdness, over-the-top characters, in exotic environments, wearing dazzlingly glamorous outfits.

Mongo's own "Earth, Wind, and Fire" tribute act prepares.

An unexpected theme of sensuality, rather than innocent romance, pervades most of the scenes, not least of which is provided by Ornella Muti's Princess Aura, who seems to be secretly sleeping with everything with a penis, and possibly some of those without. Timothy Dalton's Prince Barin, fully capable of chewing the scenery when the role calls for it, is surprisingly restrained here amongst over-actors like Brian Blessed's Prince Vultan and Max von Sydow's spectacularly camp Ming the Merciless. Skimpy form-fitting costumes abound.

Not the Craw.

It's a cavalcade of absurdity as the plot leaps from one tame set-piece to the next with alacrity, sharp banter keeping everything fun, the iconic soundtrack from Queen bringing much 80s glam rock to keep your heart racing. It's no wonder Flash Gordon is considered a classic in its field of over-the-top fantasy sci-fi, it recognised where the balance needed to be, and it maintained that line deftly.

Can I fit any more adverbs into this post?

Not pictured: Thomas the Tank Engine

There are a few old movies that I think would benefit from a George Lucas-style Special Edition do-over, using the original elements but modern technology to upgrade the rough edges, particularly of the visual effects and the sound effects. It wouldn't take much to make those adjustments to Flash Gordon and not affect any of its inherent charm. I'd really like to see that.

If anyone is looking for a good MST3K night with your nerdy mates, you couldn't do better than with the glamorous Flash Gordon.

A new version is in the works. I suspect they'll move away from the cheese and go for gritty realism. If so, I fear it will suffer for it. Personally I'd rather adapt Dash Decent.

P.S: spot the fleeting Robbie Coltrane appearance.

1 Reasoned Responses:

TS Hendrik said...

I agree with what you say. There is a push these days to play everything overly straight. The campiness in the film though is part of it's charm, largely cause it makes it feel like a pulp comic. I wouldn't mind seeing some of the effects worked over either like you say.

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