20th Aug2020

‘Flash Gordon: 40th Anniversary Collection’ Blu-ray Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Sam J. Jones, Topol, Max von Sydow, Melody Anderson, Ornella Muti, Timothy Dalton, Brian Blessed, Peter Wyngarde, Mariangela Melato, Richard O’Brien | Written by Lorenzo Semple Jr. | Directed by Mike Hodges

If you are a movie geek, just knowing that a movie is produced by Dino De Laurentiis is a sign that the movie is usually worth your attention. Flash Gordon though is also a film that doesn’t just need that association, it instead stands on its own; and while it may not be Star Wars, it definitely has a place in the hearts of science fiction fans.

Finding himself kidnapped by Dr. Hans Zarkov (Topol), Flash Gordon (Sam J. Jones) and friend Dale Arden (Melody Anderson) find themselves travelling to the planed Mongo. When arriving they find themselves fighting the tyrannical Emporer Ming (Max von Sydow) not only to save Earth, but maybe even the entire universe.

Flash Gordon comes from what feels like a golden era of cult films that were willing to take adventure in a new route. Similar moves like Barbarella, Krull, The Last Starfighter, The Never Ending Story, and many others took children of the 80s into whole new worlds of adventure. It is fair to say though that Flash Gordon offered something a little different, and that is probably based on many things that came together to create the experience that is the movie.

Based on the old Universal serials, it comes as no surprise that Flash Gordon has a similar adventurous style to Indiana Jones, which too was based on those classic serials of yesteryear. Add to that the soundtrack for the movie created by Queen, and the impressive set design and the movie had a certain style that not only focused on adventure and escapism but an almost operatic style of music presentation.

When looking at the cast of the film, it is fair to say that Sam J. Jones is the perfect Flash Gordon. He had a purity to his performance that took the audience back to the true adventure hero, again very much like Harrison Ford did with Indiana Jones, though if you look deeper into the Jones character, some of his actions are more questionable. For Flash though, he is the true American hero, who could have appeared a little too sugary, but Jones pulls it off. Melody Anderson also plays a female character ahead of her time, who is not stuck in the damsel in distress role, but fights just as hard to help in Gordon’s fight against Ming. When looking at the rest of the cast, Max von Sydow of course is excellent as Ming, but the list of actors who steal the show somewhat is almost a whose who of acting talent. Topol, Timothy Dalton and Peter Wyngarde are very worthy mentions but of course you can’t talk about Flash Gordon without the true scene stealer that is Brian Blessed.

It is arguable that Flash Gordon is the movie that cemented Brian Blessed as the actor we know and love today. His line “Gordons alive?!?!” is one of the most quotable lines in the movie (in Blessed’s voice of course) and the enthusiasm he puts in the role wins over the most ardent of cynics who would look to dampen the spirit of the movie. This is probably why so many extras focus on Blessed, and he even gets to do a commentary for the movie here!

Listening to Blessed talk about his memories of the movie is one of the most enjoyable parts of this release, and it is obvious that he still holds a lot of love for not only the movie itself but the experience that it gave him. His enthusiasm still shines through and it is a commentary well worth listening to. The rest of the special features are well worth watching and listening to too and they also include:

  • New Lost in Space: Nic Roeg’s Flash Gordon
  • Audio commentary with Mike Hodges
  • Behind the scenes of Flash Gordon
  • Stills gallery
  • Storyboards gallery
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Interview with Mike Hodges
  • Episode 24 of Flash Gordon (1979-1982): The Survival Game / Gremlin’s Finest Hour
  • Sam Jones’s acting start
  • Entertainment Earth on Flash Gordon merchandise
  • Bob Lindenmayer discussed deleted scenes and original endings
  • 35th Anniversary Greenroom
  • 35th Anniversary reunion featurette
  • Renato Casaro extended interview
  • Brian Blessed anecdotes
  • Melody’s musings on the soundtrack

If you don’t have Flash Gordon on Blu-ray, this is the perfect time to get it, especially in this new set. A film that truly enjoys the cult status that it has achieved, Flash Gordon is one of those films that has embedded itself in popular culture, and has aged well as a film that is just looking to be an escape from reality and a trip to new world full of adventure. Buy it now, or we may have to send Brian Blessed around to give you a talking to as to why it is well worth a buy (we’re kidding of course…)

Flash Gordon: 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition is available on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK now.


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