Flash Gordon: Saviour of the Universe Edition Mike Hodges

Flash Gordon: Saviour of the Universe Edition Mike Hodges

Turns out there’s a reason why I know every note of Queen’s awesome soundtrack to this 1980 sci-fi comic adaptation yet barely remember a moment of the film. Because while the over-the-top British glam rockers slather the best cheese over their thumping, epic rock, the film is but a joke - a blip of a resume entry for the likes of Timothy Dalton, Max Von Sydow and Fiddler On the Roof star Topol, a pit stop on the way to guest spots on Silk Stalkings and The Fall Guy for stars Sam J. Jones and Melody Anderson. Four years after Star Wars and nearly 14 after Star Trek, Flash Gordon is pathetic; it’s absurdly plotted (even given the genre), cheaply made, terribly written and badly acted (aside from a few nods and winks from supporting cast). The fact that quarterback-turned-reluctant hero Flash battles the forces of Ming the Merciless (Von Sydow) with his football skills is worth a laugh, to be sure, but comic artist Alex Ross’s featurette, in which he claims Flash to be a major accomplishment in film history, his favourite ever, is simply too much. I enjoy some cheap sexual innuendo as much as the next sci-fi nerd but this has more camp than Meatballs. Don’t blame hired hand director Mike Hodges (Croupier) - the blame clearly rests on screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr., the man who adapted Batman for television. (That says it all right there.) He gets an opportunity for amends in a second featurette but basically shrugs and says, "don’t take this stuff so seriously.” (Tell that to uberfan Alex Ross, who by the way should have been given a commentary to dissect this "technicolour marvel.”) The character’s near century-long legacy is acknowledged with the first episode of the 1936 Flash Gordon serial - that it seems more complex, interesting and deep says everything about the film. Wicked tunes though. (Universal)