Flash Gordon DVD review

Jenny finds herself completely incapable of taking Flash Gordon seriously. Good thing he's got a catchy theme tune...

Ornella Muti. She's the one on the right.


Yes, they were risking it when they sent this to me review because I cannot take Flash Gordon seriously. I don’t care how evil Ming (Ming!) is, or how Flash (aaaargh!) has to save the universe, or that the Kingdoms of Mongo (ha ha ha ha ha ha!) are at war. The whole film is absolutely flipping preposterous on just about every level and yet manages not to make you want to hurl a book at the screen.

There’s just so much going on. We start in Vaguely Sensible Land, with Flash (aaaargh! Sam J Jones) on a plane with Dale Arden (Melody Anderson). The plane hits some turbulence, and nobody cares because in this sequence we’re all going to act like this story is going nowhere so that you’re all at ease and then OH NOES! Arden has looked out of the window and the sky is full of red dust! And then OH NOES! The pilots see lots of red clouds and MING’S FACE! And then the plane goes down but Flash (aaaargh!) is, of course, training as a pilot so he manages to land it and then it turns out that OH NOES! He’s landed it in the middle of the laboratory of a mad scientist who tries to attack them and then there’s a fight and then someone hits the red button and the next thing they know they’re on their way into space!

Phew. Anyway, when they get into space they soon discover that they’re on the Planet Mongo and that the Emperor Ming (Max von Sydow) doesn’t like Earth people. He promptly tries to kill Flash (aaaargh!) and take Arden as one of his concubines, whilst brainwashing mad scientist Hans Zarkov (Chaim Topol) into being one of his minions.

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What happens after this is, frankly, academic. Lots of people run around in ker-azy costumes, there are some big swords and laser guns that go ‘pew pew pew’, a couple of unpleasant Eighties SFX moments – the eyes! Yuk! – and that Peter Duncan bloke off Blue Peter. Brian Blessed turns up wearing wings, Richard O’Brien has a tragically short appearance, there’s a big fight and Ming dies horribly at the end. Or does he?

As a bit of a laugh, Flash (aaaargh!) is perfectly acceptable. It’s gloriously colourful and really quite inventive, and Queen’s relentless soundtrack will keep you hooked in if nothing else does. It has a lot of memorable moments, admittedly not always for the right reasons, and the theme tune will likely lodge itself into your head for many moons afterwards. The Sam J Jones/Timothy Dalton fight scene is great – and it will show you where the makers of Gladiators got the game Earthquake from, although without the whips and the fall into the swirling death-vortex of deep space (and they wonder why it’s not been that successful?).

To probe it any further would unearth a multitude of negatives. Dale Arden is an insult to women everywhere, grabbing onto the first male she sees in the event of any danger. We’re presumably supposed to find it entertaining that Ming likes to capture women and repeatedly rape them. The acting, actually, is…well, it’s shit. There are more continuity errors than Neighbours. But hey, who cares, right? It’s Flash (aaaargh!)!

There is one thing, however, that cannot be overlooked. This DVD has no extras. None. There is one word for that: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!

3 out of 5


3 out of 5