10 Of My Favorite Bad Movies #7 – FLASH GORDON
Come on people! You HAD to know that this Dino Delaurentis’ crapfest was going to make this list. It is Flash Gordon the movie with a near all-star cast. I say ‘near all-star cast’ because casting an unknown like Sam Jones kind of made you completely not care about whether THE LEAD CHARACTER lives or dies. Still, the rest of the cast is so incredibly badass that it should make-up for that one casting mistake… shouldn’t it?
I mean we’ve got Topol, of Fiddler On The Roof as Dr. Hans Zarkov, a pre-Bond Timothy Dalton as Prince Barin and the always awesome Brian Blessed as Prince Vultan. Add to this “Mr. Excitement” Max Von Sydow as Ming The Merciless and this cast is so awesome that Flash Gordon should’ve been a movie that was at least as awesome as Star Wars. All this plus Italian UBER-HOTTIE Ornella Muti as Ming’s super slutty daughter Princess Aura. A killer cast, an Italian hottie and a classic pulp hero, how could Flash Gordon fail?
Well, it can start by being cheezy with a pretty craptacular budget. I mean when you have to pay those actors, your budget is going to take quite a hit. Then there is Queen… yes the Rock Band Queen provides what is generally considered Flash Gordon‘s only redeeming trait, the soundtrack. Amazing considering that from a song-writing sense it is some of Queen’s worst stuff (compostiion wise it is actually great, as Brian May scored most of the film and Brian May really can do no wrong). Still even a bad Queen record is like, what? 3 stars worth of good material?
So let us take a look at the story of the movie shall we?
Ming The Merciless of The Planet Mongo, the most alliterative villain name ever, decides that it is time to conquer/destroy the planet Earth. He goes about doing so with his nasty ol’ Doomsday Machine that crashes all sorts of crazy shit from the moon into the planet. Hot Hail? Fuck yeah Ming uses Hot Hail! He is Ming ThE FUCKING Merciless (of The Planet Mongo), he’ll rain down Hot Hail down on you all day long if he wants to, what are you gonna do about it Earthman?
Well for starters, you can send the Quarterback for the New York Jets, Flash Gordon, in a rocket with a deranged scientist and semi-attractive reporter. First of all, the fact that Flash Gordon plays for the New York Jets is not lost on me. Obviously this mission is wasn’t the best laid out plan but given that Flash, Dr. Zarkov and Dale Arden all kind of meet by accident doesn’t exactly get this adventure off to the best start. From there it is off to Planet Mongo (home of Ming The Merciless) where they are all immediately captured and brought before Ming (The Merciless of The Planet Mongo). Ming fancies himself a ladies man and determines that he is just going to take Dale for a bride so he can pound her with his punishing love. Flash isn’t really down with this (neither is Dale for that matter) so he turns Ming’s Royal Court into an impromptu game of football (though it is closer to a game of ‘Smear The Queer’)’. Sadly, Flash ends up in chains again, I mean what do you expect? He plays for the FUCKING NEW YORK JETS!
Still our man Ming (The Merciless of The Planet Mongo) is gracious, he decides to JUST put Flash to death. Of course Flash escapes, with the help of Ming’s slutty/bratty daughter (from the Planet Mongo), Princess Aura. Aura obviously wants to play the slap and tickle with Flash but knows that by helping him, she is likely to be put to death herself. So it is off to the forest planet of Arboria, all to seek aid from Prince Barin (who Aura may, or may not have done a knee-trembler with Barin in the past) and his men in tights. Barin and Flash try to outwit one another, a game that both are woefully ill-equipped for, I mean a Jock and wanna-be Robin Hood matching wits is laughably bad. Finally they decide to play that beloved Arborian drinking game “Let’s stick Our Hand In The Pit Where The Poisonous Nasty Lives”. During all this Princess Aura, who isn’t getting laid during any of this, leaves before daddy dearest and his secret police realize she is gone (Hint: They Know!). Flash makes Barin realize that if the other Princes of Mongo united behind him, they could overthrow Ming (The Merciless Of The Planet Mongo). Barin pretty much fesses up to being a massive douche bag but then both are taken prisoner by Prince Vultan (Brian Blessed Bitches!) and his Hawkmen.
Of course by now Ming’s goons know that Flash is alive and invade Vultan’s floating city. Ming takes Barin, Dale and Zarkov… oh yeah, they escaped from Ming’s capital city Mingus… no I’m not shitting you; he is Ming The Merciless from The Planet Mongo living in the Capital city Mingus… anyway, Dale, Zarkov and Barin are all taken aboard Ming’s mothership and Flash is left there to die as the city is bombarded by Ming’s Mothership (from The Planet Mongo, that usually docks in Mingus). Vultan decides that destroying his city is a bit much and rallies his Hawkmen for an assault on Mingus (where Ming The Merciless… oh never mind!). I mean he is Brian Blessed for fuck’s sake, He was Augustus Caesar and avoiding getting poisoned by his own wife! You think he is gonna take Ming (The Merciless From… Ok ok, I’ll stop) blowing up his city lying down?
Ming decides that being the biggest badass in the entire universe, with a superlative alliterative name, is hard work and decides that NOW is the perfect time to get married to Dale. Sure why not, I mean you just captured a rebel prince, destroyed another’s floating citadel and eliminated the one guy who would’ve provided a real threat to your firm grip on power. Why not fuck the earth woman to end the day? Its Miller Time on Mongo!
One little problem there Ming old boy, that dude who plays for The New York Jets? Y’know Flash Gordon? Yeah, turns out he actually escaped the destruction of Vultan’s floating city and is now leading Vultan and his Hawkmen in an attempt to sack Mingus (on Mongo… Ming… The Merciless…). The assault on Mingus interrupts Ming’s wedding to Dale and to make matters worse, Flash ends up commandeering Ming’s Battleship. Look out Ming, not even the Lightning Field surrounding Mingus (on Mongo!) can save you from Flash ramming the ugliest spaceship through your wrap-around picture window!
This is Flash Gordon and it is a technicolor nightmare of a bad movie. Could it be that producer Dino De Laurentis and director Mike Hodges stuck too closely to the look of Alex Raymond’s comic strip from the 30’s a bit too much? Or maybe it strays from the source material too much and loses that great feel of the Raymond strips? The answer is a “little bit of both” The look the of movie feels like the comic strip but some of it is just god awful. Not even Max Von Sydow can save this movie and he can save ANY movie. I mean imagine how much better Spider-Man 3 would be with Max Von Sydow?
Anyway, Flash Gordon isn’t a movie you should plop down any significant money to see. I wouldn’t rent it. Hell, I’d be half-tempted to cancel my cable subscriber for just showing it. BUT… dammit that soundstrack saves the whole movie!
The moral of this story kids?
QUEEN FUCKING RULES~!
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