View Full Version : Flash Gordon on DVD,...ehhhhhhhh
Aug 13, '07, 9:36 PM
BONUS SPOILERS!!!! Don't read if you don't want to know!
Ok, So I bought Flash Gordon,(1981), on DVD and instead of watching the film first I watched the bonus materials. Of particular interest was Lorenzo Smple Jr's interview.
He recalls how the translator couldn't translate his English script to Italian that well. Then Dino tells him he doesn't want the translation to be exact. Then the set designer would blatantly ignore the script altogether when building sets. Them he says Sam J. Jones as Flash was terribly cast-unbelievable as Flash Gordon. He also said he wrote the script but never got any feedback on it. No one said write another draft or work on it more.
I mean my jaw just about hit the floor. I always liked the film and thought man, the look of the film is so faithful to the strip, the visuals were great, the casting is very good, some of the scenes were outstanding-particualrly anything with Max Von Sydow as Ming. If the film had not been so campy, if the dialogue been worked on a little more this could've been a perfect film. As it os it's pretty good but it could've been the best comic strip adaptaion ever!
Aug 14, '07, 10:59 PM
I'm not surprised to hear this.
At the risk of having bricks thrown at me in cyber-space, I have to admit....I've always disliked this film. It has just enough shades from the old serials to make it watchable, otherwise it just never clicked with me.
I am in complete agreement that Sam Jones was wrong for the part...the guy just couldnt act, and came across...even when I was a kid...as some surfer dude type who just walked onto the set, recited his lines, and then took off to "catch some rays".
The sets were cool, again, mainly because they emulated the serials. Kudos to the set builder who ignored the script!
the portrayal of Ming was good, as was Vulton.
The music....I would have preferred a John Williams type score....I never liked Queen, nor that type of music in general.
...I dunno....I guess I just expected a straight forward, slam bam Alex Raymond style action film......instead we got a PG version of Flesh Gordon. I have always suspected the "camp factor" attributed to this film was a mistake. I dont think the filmmakers intended for that, it just ended up that way.
(again ---this is just my opinion---I know some folks love this film, and I am in no way slamming them....I mean I loved Star trek TMP, while most find it dull...)
Aug 15, '07, 12:58 AM
I loved the movie .........
To me, the crazy combo of classic 30's plus NEW 70's style was serendipity.
It was --- at least for us fans --- the ultimate happy accident in movie making.
Aug 15, '07, 6:54 AM
I love this movie and raced out to buy it last night. I totally agree with Alex Ross's viewpoint that your Sci Fi can be fun and that's all Flash is. Ross called it a "Rock Opera" something I don't totally agree with but Queen kicked the whole thing up with their soundtrack, I'm not a huge fan either.
I love the fantasy FX and art deco design that harkens back to old series. Dissect it's parts and you can pick away but as a whole, it's bloody good fun. The camp is totally intentional and I'm glad it is.
My son couldn't sleep so I let him watch it with me (FFing the gore) and he loved it too.
Aug 15, '07, 9:13 PM
This movie has always been one of my favorites. It doesn't take itself too seriously and it's really enjoyable if you don't take it seriously either.
I saw this in the score but passed because I burned this to DVD off a movie channel a couple of years ago. Are the DVD extras worth the purchase price?
Aug 16, '07, 11:13 AM
I always thought Flash Gordon was cool in a cheesy, campy sort of way. Yeah it could have been better. Queen for the soundtrack? Queen for maybe a song on the soundtrack. That's like Prince's enitre album of Batman songs. I think it was approached to update the old serials. There were even one or two attempts at a Flash Gordon comic book by DC that just didn't work, either.
I don't know if I want to see a real serious Flash Gordon. There's a chance that it would become to dark and hardboiled. I'd like to see it updated like, say, the difference between Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Wrath of Khan would be kinda cool. Some drama, some suspense, some light-hearted humor, drop the camp.
I'll still like the Sam J. Jones version, though.
Like the ad says - "Behold, the power of cheese!"
Aug 16, '07, 9:03 PM
I cant wait to pick it up
Aug 18, '07, 10:11 AM
I love this movie too, I'll have to go and get the dvd now I know it's out, ta guys.
It really reminds me of a wonderful time in my childhood, as does Tron, Empire Strikes Back and a bunch of movies around that 1980 time slot.
The ice creams were great too!
Edit: Removed image of Flash Gordon Ice Cream Box as it was too big, and scrolling from side to side was giving me motion sickness! To check out a pic of the Flash box visit my blog as listed in my sig below.
Aug 25, '07, 7:03 PM
Picked up my copy today. Already had the foreign release, but I had to have the domestic copy just for the Alex Ross artwork...SWEET! I like the film for alot of the reasons Alex Ross suggested in his interview. I'm a little less sure of the film's influence on others given it's quirky, camp approach. I think the film is fun because it's just so completely over the top with the dated effects (even for it's day), VERY cheesy lines, and some dreadful acting along the way. Throw in Queen for the soundtrack and you suddenly have a film which displays it's greatest distinction (at least before Highlander anyway). I believe most people think of Queen when they think of this film and ultimately why it endures in some circles. To me this film is the culmination of it's own influences. It's Forbidden Planet meets the Wizard of Oz meets Tron ... but with a little less polish. It's not a proper film but one intended for those young at heart, like many of us on this forum.:smile: It's one of those movies that can't be defended artistically but you like it anyway because it's innocence is so blatantly on display, and that's what brings out that inner child. The film just makes me feel good and that's my greatest defense. :grin:
Aug 26, '07, 6:48 PM
Hands down the greatest thing about Flash Gordon? Ornella Muti as Princess Aura. Good Gawd almighty. Melody Anderson is cute and all, but I woulda turned to to the darkside in about half a second if that was what awaited me.
Aug 27, '07, 12:21 AM
I just watched it again tonight. Again there are some big flaws in the pic but overall the look and feel is pretty good. There are like 6 lines they could remove which are just dopey and the film would be much improved. The guy who Ming kills in the beginning was named Prince Thun. Isn't that suppossed to be the name of the Lionman from the strips?
I can point to a couple of things that shows, maybe not bad acting on Sam J. Jones's part but perhaps bad takes where the director should have said do it again, like in the swamp cage where he says to Barin Let's all team up and fight Ming, that was pretty bad. Or where he tried to shake Barin's hand at the begining of the deathmatch on the dias in Vultan's city. These moments seem very unrealistic.
Yet anytime Max Von Sydow appears as Ming the preformances are terrific. The whole segment in Vultan's city where he tells Flash, You're a Hero. When he asks Gordon if he prefer's death to a kingdom and SJ Jones scowls and nods and Ming responds, too bad, I'd much rather have you on my side. Man that was great acting on both their parts. That whole area has so much going on on many levels-its just so right.
I have to point a lot of blame to Lorenzo Semple Jr. tho for the script. I know he looks old and fragile and like he's only got one lung in him left but this guy just doesn't get it! All these cherished characters like Flash and Batman and he just assumes they aren't to be taken seriously. He should've said maybe I should do just one more re-write and make the dailogue better, or the motivation better, or make more gripping cliffhangers. The film is fun but not too long after it, Raiders of the Lost Ark came out and showed audiences what really could be done when you love the old serial format and made it serious too.
Chris Reeve said he felt a certain responsibility when acting as Superman; as tho he were guarding a national treasure. Richard Donner said: Salkinds be damnned! We are going to do Superman the right way! Sepmle Jr. comes along and says people who like comics are dumb, and this stuff is all silly and shouldn't be taken seriously so who cares anyway. Yet every month after and even before he wrote Flash and King Kong, (1976), people have written great comic book scripts monthly, and many times more stories than he could ever write. He just never got it.
Aug 27, '07, 10:13 PM
I understand what your saying but I think Lorenzo is too easy a target to aim at if your basing this film's shortcomings on his previous outings like Batman and King Kong '76 (both of which I LOVE). Think about it. The Batman television show was BRILLIANT. It brought both a style and a approach that no one had ever seen. Kids adored it and adults that never read a comic book embraced it. Adam West and Burt Ward experienced fame similar to the Beatles! They couldn't go anywhere without creating a mob scene. And most importantly, it revived the Batman comic book. Name another Batman show that has ever approached that? Nill.
King Kong has a much tougher road to tow but the truth is it was a huge success, it was just hated by the purists because they didn't get their stop-motion (Rudolph the Red-Nose reindeer style) ape that was done over 40 years earlier. Think about how bad the film would have been if they had tried stop motion in the 70's? Uh...yeah. To this day, it's still my personal favorite even against Jackson's installment because Lorenzo didn't take the material too seriously. THAT'S why it works! Kong also made me a life time fan of Jeff Bridges, Jessica Lange, Charles Grodin, and of course make-up genius Rick Baker, all of which have had very successful careers.
Flash Gordon holds up for the same exact reason. Lorenzo was honest with the material and that's part of it's charm -That naive honesty of the characters. It's like a comic book come to life in every aspect. If you could blame the movie's short comings on dialog then I suspect you could never watch a single episode of Star Wars, even the classic installment from '77. Actually that first film is a perfect example of what good acting does for obsurd dialog. Take just about any exchange of dialog between characters in that film and write it down. Most of it is ridiculous to read out loud. But when you read it in the context of the actors playing those parts, suddenly it gains an entirely different dimension because when they spoke those lines, they believed in what they were saying, so you believed it too.
Flash Gordon didn't benefit as well because the performances were uneven. Max Von Sydow was brilliant as Ming,but that's because he was a classicly trained actor who could portray just about anyone and make you believe him. Look at his lines. Nonsense! But when he spoke them, they were beautifully evil and you believed him because you were watching his performance and not thinking about the words. But when you put Melody Anderson in the same scene with him, it just didn't work. Her lines were said with so little inflection and lack of motivation it was as if she were rehearsing those scenes rather than providing a performance for the final take. "Go Flash! Go!"...uh..."Flash! I love you, but we only have 24 hours to save the earth!" All comic book lines but spoken by someone who didn't believe in what she was saying, so they came off as camp. Her performance was not captivating so you focused on the dialog and thought, "Wow. That's ridiculous."
If they had more actors like Max Von Sydow, this would have been a bonifide classic. As it is, its' a cult classic and, of course, I will always treasure it for the script's honesty to the source material. What it comes down to is we both love it, so that's all that matters. :smile:
Nov 24, '07, 1:04 PM
GORDON'S ALIIIVE!!!............sorry ..no one else was gonna say it so I thought I would
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