So, for a podcast I was on this past weekend, I watched Flash Gordon (1980) for the first time. Spoiler alert – I friggin’ loved it. It was an incredibly enjoyable two hour experience, and there were two factors contributing to said enjoyment level: the incredibly light tone and the stellar soundtrack.
Tackling the first factor first, to put things eloquently… At no point are the actors in Flash Gordon completely up their own ass, like in, say, a Christopher Nolan Batman film. While I liked Nolan’s movies, the unfortunate side effect of them has been a slew of superhero movies where no fun is allowed, with the exception of Joss Whedon’s Avengers.
And even the success of that movie has seemingly given movie executives the impression that “success” is contingent on pairing a bunch of superheroes together, as opposed to making a fun popcorn movie. Maybe Guardians of the Galaxy will buck this trend, since it’s essentially using the leftover heroes, but crap like the new Spiderman and Superman movies have been grab bags of villains and heroes talking dourly to one another. The new hero movies take all of the joy and fun out of being a hero.
Therefore, it’s awesome to see Flash Gordon acting like he’s the shit in the opening five minutes of Flash Gordon, and he’s not even a superhero. He must be aware that the movie is named after him. Throughout the movie’s 120 minutes, Sam J. Jones, Max von Sydow, Timothy Dalton and Brian Blessed just chew up the scenery and spit it out, and it’s awesome. Have I mentioned that it’s awesome enough? Well, it’s awesome.
All of the effects in the movie are cheesy, especially since this came out post-Star Wars. This only adds to the movie’s appeal in my mind – This is a movie that could only have been made in the 1980s, between the effects and a color palette that ranges from neon to radioactive in most scenes.
And, oh – Queen. As I wrote down in my notes while watching this movie, “Any of the scenes with Queen’s music are awesome. God damn it, why did Freddy Mercury have to die? The music helps to distract from some of the now really bad special effects. Yet another thing that should be used in modern movies.”
FOX is allegedly doing a re-make of Flash Gordon as of April 2014, which has me worried. I will set the bar low, as I’m imagining some grisly dark tale with tons of pretty but heartless CG and a soundtrack by The Black Eyed Peas, or Gwen Stefani.
I didn’t really have a proper ending for this, so here – just listen to Queen.