Thursday, July 19, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Flash Gordon (1980) *

PG, 111 min.
Director: Mike Hodges
Writers: Lorenzo Semple Jr., Michael Allin (adaptation), Alex Raymond (characters)
Starring: Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, Max Von Sydow, Topol, Ornella Muti, Timothy Dalton, Brian Blessed, Peter Wyngarde, Mariangela Melato

Anybody who saw the movie “Ted” this summer can probably guess why I was inspired to pull this piece of trash out of the garbage. “Ted” is obsessed with every piece of pop culture that went into forming my generation’s collective consciousness. One of the main pieces in it is the 1980 movie “Flash Gordon”. I believe the teddy bear remarks about it, “So bad, but so good.”

I can still remember my excitement about seeing this movie when I was a kid. “Star Wars” had already happened, and the wave of science fiction it inspired was just hitting its full swing. I don’t know where my knowledge of Flash Gordon came from, but it was urgent knowledge. That urgency and the fact that Queen was providing the soundtrack made the anticipation for this film nearly unbearable. I remember sitting in the theater during the first few moments of the film. Flash was sitting in a car at a small airport and Ming had just sent “Hot Hail” to the Earth. It started hailing, and the hail sizzled! Damn! Or some other exclamation my 8-year-old self might’ve had.

“Flash Gordon” is one of those films you idolized as a child, but as an adult is disappointing in its awfulness. I had no illusions about “Flash Gordon”. I was sure years ago that it was much more terrible than I had realized as a kid. And yet, I’ve always wanted to revisit it. My kids gave me a good excuse.

“Flash Gordon” is bad, but it isn’t bad enough to be good. My kids on the other hand took it in with near the same zeal as I had at their age. It looks damn good on Blu-ray, too. But, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst adult enemy.

Watch the full movie below.

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