Flash Gordon is a football hero who is skyjacked aboard Dr. Zarkov's rocketship along with beautiful Dale Arden. The threesome are drawn into the influence of the planet Mongo, controlled by Ming the Merciless. Ming has been testing the Earth with unnatural disasters, and deeming it a threat to his rule, he plans to destroy it. He also intends to take Dale as his concubine. Flash must avoid the amorous attentions of Ming's daughter and unite the warring kingdoms of Mongo to rescue Dale and save our world.
Directed by: Mike Hodges
. Starring: Sam J. Jones
, Melody Anderson
, Max von Sydow
, Ornella Muti
, Timothy Dalton
, Brian Blessed
, Peter Wyngarde
, Mariangela Melato
, John Osborne
, Richard O'Brien
, John Hallam
, Philip Stone
. Music by: Howard Blake
I simply love this movie, it brings back so many memories not only of my childhood but also of one of my favourite childhood rock bands, Queen, who happened to have done the soundtrack. The movie itself is based upon a comic strip from the 1930s and was later made into a black and white television series that I remembered sitting down to watch every day before school (and this was back in the days before video recorders which meant that if you wanted to watch something you had to sit down then and there otherwise you would miss it).
Anyway, Ming the Merciless is a galactic tyrant who travels around the universe on his planet Mongo playing games with less developed planets. However those planets that do pose as a threat he either enslaves or simply destroys. With regards to Earth, he begins by inflicting countless disasters on the planet, but when Dr Hans Zarkov, along with travel agent Dale Arden and pro-footballer Flash Gordon, manage to fly to Mongo on a rocketship, he decides that Earth is a little too dangerous so sets up on a plan of destroying Earth by crashing the moon into it.
As mentioned, I have seen, a long time ago, the old black and white television series, where there is a scene where Mongo actually gets really close to the Earth, only to be diverted at the last minute (back in those days special effects were incredibly basic and were usually stop motion animation or simply models, and even then you can see that they are still using a lot of models at this time). However, in the series, the entire episode with the forest dwellers is actually set in the second series where Flash, Dale, and Zarkov travel to Mars.
While this is not a movie that stands out on its special effects or any deep meaning behind the story, it is still a cult classic, even if it is only because of the soundtrack ('Flash Gordon approaching!', 'What do you mean Flash Gordon approaching!'). In fact half of the memorable lines are memorable because there were repeated on the Queen song of the last name (which was the third to last song on their Greatest Hits album, even though We Will Rock You, and We Are the Champions is technically one song because they are always, without fail, played together).
Look, this is a typical modern Hollywood story with humanity in danger, and the danger is so great that if they fail that everybody is wiped out, and it all comes down to a single person to stand up and be a hero, in this case Flash Gordon. What is cool is that he is a pro-footballer, who are pretty much the heroes of the modern day, despite the fact that footballers never actually add anything to society, other than entertainment. What it does show is that not only is he a team player (very important in team sports) but he also has the ability to lead, another skill that is developed when playing sport. It is these two characteristics that make him a hero, as well as the willingness to put his life on the line. However, as we can expect, at the last possible moment, Earth is saved, and it all came down to the willingness of one man to stand up to a person that is little more than a big bully.
Review by david-sarkies from the Internet Movie Database.