Flash Gordon Blu-Ray Review

Cover Art and Menus: 9/10
Would I have this as a poster? Yes. I love the commitment of the thing. It’s a superhero with bulging muscles and blond hair being stalked by a big red bad guy with evil looking eyes. It’s the stuff comics are made of and it works. The artwork was done by a man who was a huge fan of the movie when he was a boy and I do believe his appreciation of the movie shows in this artwork. The menu is themed and functional. I can’t throw much love that direction.

Features: 7/10

  • Alex Ross, Renowned Comic Artist On Flash Gordon – I like art. I like artists (mostly). I like people who love a certain movie most of their life and defend it to anyone who wants to find fault. This guy is an artist, he painted/drew the artwork for the DVD/Blu Ray and more, AND he’s a fan of the movie claiming to have seen it dozens of times and goes on to explain why it’s good and why it’s not good for everyone. It’s a good extra.
  • Writing A Classic Screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr – He talks about the truth about the cult classic. He says people take it so seriously and he doesn’t understand why. So, those serious cult fans have probably paid for his big boats and houses a few times over…but he’s cool and he tells good stories.
  • First Episode Of The Flash Gordon 1936 Serial – Need a look at the past to stick your nose up at how superior we are in every way? Well, this serial, and so many other productions in the late 30’s and 50’s, it was ahead of it’s time. It’s well worth a watch. I preferred to watch after the movie, but you choose.

The Movie: 7/10
It’s a movie with a mission. Fun. It’s a cinematic gem with a purpose. Be outrageous. There is no pretending to be a polished action flick or serious nod to an All-American football star turned superhero. I loved it.

Colors abound in this richly decorated little movie. It’s crazy with shapes, color, over design, too much cash in the hands of the people who liked to have sets built…you get the picture. It’s got a look that can only be found on Sigmound and the Sea Monster:)

I had no idea about this movie so it was all new to me and I loved it that way. It’s stimulating and fun to see very fight, every fake fall, every strange character from scratch, without having it cemented into my mind from childhood. I find the costumes and sets to be some of the best sci-fi ones around. They are basic, and strangely ambitious for the times. The vision of the future by movie makers of the 80’s, that’s the 1980’s kids, is eye happiness.

The acting is hmmm hmmmm you know, it’s what it is. Von Sydow though, come on!!! He took that shit seriously and he was awesome. Flash and his lady friend were both total sports about it all, that’s for sure,. They both put in great performances for the content and times and it makes the movie that much more fun. No one is stand out bad, everyone made this movie exactly what it was meant to be, a romp. The Book of Eli (another review we did a couple weeks ago) was heavy in theme and style, Flash Gordon is heavy in color and crazy, so it’s a nice balance.

SO, what do I REALLY think of this movie? I’m a 42 year old woman, white (except for the tanning bed pretend color on my skin), heterosexual, not an idiot, not driven by the testosterone in my 11 year old body….get where I’m gong here? When this movie came out and all the audience became pre-teen, teen, and goodness forbid, grown men who swooned over the sexual innuendo, the skimpy princess outfit, the tight pants and whip, the grunting initiation ceremony by a group of dudes in a tree with a giant stump with many holes in it….there are too many to  mention! If I were a grown boy who needed a movie to titilate him, this would do the trick.

That being said, I still loved it. It’s great exciting stage-like fun with wild induced aliens and strangeness along with that blond hair muscle bound American football player who, if his shirt had been any tighter I’d have to pretend not to be looking at that chest, that stomach, that 1980 body style with the chest out/stomach in quality of Kirk along with the flowing hair of Farah Fawcet, and the steel determination of, well, Flash Gordon :)…where was I. Oh, I loved it.

Yes, there are dudes with wings on wires. Yes, there is a churing pre-greenscreen sky that is suspect. Yes there is a space version of a jet ski. Yes, there are chicks so objectified it’s like taking a stroll in the late 20th century for goodness sake. I love it.

Get over your snotty attitude and just have a good time. I know you have a snotty attitude about it because you went to see Avatar and either think it’s the greatest thing ever and anything else just won’t measure up…OR you went to see Avatar and had the nerve to complain about the special effects. Get over yourself, watch Flash “He’s a miracle!!” in action and have a great time.

(Editor’s Note: 7 in 1980 should be adjusted for economic downturn tomfoolery, current inflation of billion dollar special effects, and plot loopholes the size of Jupiter. Thereby the 2010 score would be 13.876)

Audio & Video: 7/10
Flash Gordon has some of the most outlandish visuals you will ever see in a movie and Universal have really pulled out all of the stops translating the movie to Blu-Ray disc. This is one of the most detailed sharp looking transfers I have seen of an older back catalog title. The picture is a little soft on occasion mostly during some of the special effects sequences (Hawkmen flying sequences) but for the most part Flash looks like a modern day transfer not something that is 30 years old.

I am not saying this transfer is on par with Warners awesome Wizard of Oz restoration but I did get the same feeling of “Wow I have never seen this amount of detail in Flash Gordon”. Let me point out this was one of my favorite movies as a teenage boy so my viewing count on VHS is in the double figures. (Note from Cidtalk, the wife, his viewing was about figures alright, but it was more about tight red pants and leather whips added to the count, not the picture quality. )

I was not as impressed by the audio which has been remastered into a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Don’t get me wrong it sounds good but the punch I was expecting from the awesome music track (the movie is scored by Queen) was lacking. There is hardly any sub-woofer activity during the movie at all I had to check it was turned on. The dialog though is crystal clear and has that old movie type feel as though it was all recorded through a mono microphone.

Universal have done a great job here the only thing lacking for me is more punch in the audio and some better extras and a commentary. Maybe we will get those when the 40th anniversary rolls around?

Value: 7/10
I want it on my shelf. If it’s twenty dollars fair. If it’s more, well, I’ll still pay the money, I just won’t feel good about it since there aren’t more extras that fill in the whole history of Flash. If you are a curiosity seeker, rent this little gem and you might just have the urge to purchase as well. It’s a fun one to have to watch with friends, big bowl of popcorn and maybe a jug of moonshine to crank up the plausibility factor.

Overall Score 7/10