Sep 232020
 

Flash Gordon might’ve been a box office disappointment back in 1980, and reviews weren’t very kind, however over the 30+ years, it has seen a resurgence with a passionate fan base.

 

 

Flash Gordon
— Limited Edition —
(1980)

Genre(s): Science Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure
Arrow Video | PG – 111 min. – $59.95 | August 18, 2020

Date Published: 09/23/2020 | Author: The Movieman


MOVIE INFO:
Directed by: Mike Hodges
Writer(s): Michael Allin & Lorenzo Semple Jr. (written by)
Cast: Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, Topol, Max Von Sydow, Peter Wyngarde, Brian Blessed, Ornella Muti, Timothy Dalton, Mariangela Melato


DISC INFO:
Features: Audio Commentaries, Featurettes, Interviews, Deleted Scenes, Gallery, Trailer, Easter Eggs
Slip Cover: Yes
Digital Copy: No
Formats Included: 4K (movie/features), Blu-ray (features)
Number of Discs: 2


Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 2.0), English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 2160p/Widescreen 2.35
Dynamic Range: HDR10, Dolby Vision
Subtitles: English SDH
Codecs: HEVC / H.265
Region(s): A, B, C


Arrow Video provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.

Note: The images are production stills and do not represent the image quality of the 4K UHD


THE MOVIE — 4/5


Plot Synopsis: Merciless Emperor Ming (MAX VON SYDOW) decides to wreak havoc on Earth in a moment of cruel boredom. Boarding a rocket as a means of escape, star quarterback Flash Gordon (SAM J. JONES), Dale Arden (MELODY ANDERSON) and Dr. Hans Zarkov (TOPOL) find themselves on Mongo. Taken prisoner Flash must save Dale from becoming Ming’s concubine, avoid the amorous intentions of Ming’s wicked daughter Aura (ORNELLA MUTI) and unite the warring Kingdoms of Mongo.

Quick Hit Review: Another cult classic that I hadn’t seen before, Flash Gordon is a fun, campy and all around entertaining sci-fi fantasy adventure that, as I found out, the basis for George Lucas’s Star Wars as he, back then, could not afford the rights to make his version.

The film has its cheesy moments for sure and Sam J. Jones might not have a whole lot to do in terms of acting and even fighting (plus I guess his lines were later dubbed after a dispute with producer Dino De Laurentiis), but he looks the part. Also had a lot of fun watching a noble actor like Max von Sydow as the villain. Melody Anderson had an almost Lois Lane in her strength, although the romantic aspect with Flash Gordon felt a bit rushed and unearned in the end, however it would’ve been nice to see their relationship blossom with sequels that never happened.

One of the highlights is the spectacle. The set designs was wonderful not to mention the colorful costumes that harks back to the wardrobes of the late 70s/early 80s, yet still works so well all these years later. That’s not to mention the wild costumes of the Hawk people which were absurd yet also magnificent.

In the end, Flash Gordon and its embrace of cheese is why it succeeded where the likes of Superman III and Superman IV failed. I had a lot of fun with this and can see why it has a cult following as this has plenty of replay value.

 

SPECIAL FEATURES – 5/5


This 2-disc Limited Edition set comes housed in a black HD keep case which side slides into a hard slip case. Also included are post cards, a fold-out poster and nice booklet with essays.

DISC 1 (4K UHD):
Audio Commentaries:

  • Writer/Director Mike Hodges
  • Actor Brian Blessed
  • “Big Kev’s Geek Stuff”

A good array of commentary tracks here, Hodges gives a perspective from behind the camera and production side, Brian Blessed, who is as much of a character as the one he protrays, is a lot of fun while the “Big Kev” one is a recording with Sam J. Jones and Melody Anderson, a more conversation style.

Featurettes:

  • Behind the Scenes of Flash Gordon (14:27) – Old featurette from the 1980s as a promotional piece, but includes footage of the sets, costumes and training.
  • Lost in Space: Nic Roeg’s Flash Gordon (27:50) explores the Flash Gordon film Roeg had originally planned to make with producer Dino De Laurentiis.
  • Flash Gordon Animated Episode (24:31) from November 1982. Not great but the animation itself doesn’t look that bad, well at least takes me back to the 80s so maybe I’m biased.
  • Flash Gordon Merchandise (4:20) is a featurette with Jason Labowitz (“Entertainment Earth”) and Jason Lenzi (“Bif Bang Pow!”) talking about the few toy tie-ins for the movie and shows them off, including making new ones.
  • 35th Anniversary Greenroom (8:26) – From November 2015, there was a Flash Gordon reunion with Mike Hodges and the cast together for the first time since filming.
  • 35th Anniversary Reunion (6:29) is some behind-the-scenes footage from the event.

Interviews:

  • Mike Hodges (31:47) – The writer-director talks about various topics including growing up. Made for the StudioCanal release; perhaps circa 2002.
  • Lorenzo Semple Jr. (9:15) – The screenwriter discusses his work on the script.
  • Alex Ross (13:27) – Comic book artist talks on his fandom of the character and movie.
  • Sam J. Jones (4:04) on his move into acting and a nice story about his grandfather.
  • Bob Lindenmayer (2:12), who is a movie prop collector, chats about the deleted scenes.
  • Melody Anderson talks about different topics in three separate clips, one on her wedding dress (1:25), second on improvisation (1:50) and last on her hardest scene (1:32).
  • Brian Blessed – Five segments here: “Proves His Point” (1:45), “Loves Dwarfs” (1:57), “Own Special Effects” (3:44), “Sam as Flash” (2:07) and “Raffle” (1:00).
  • Brian May with two segments: “Dino” (3:42) and “Recording the Soundtrack” (1:11).
  • Howard Blake (2:37) talks about… Mickey Mouse.
  • Renato Casaro (5:38) – The poster artist discusses his work.

Galleries:

  • Storyboards
  • Stills

Original Trailer (1:59)


DISC 2 (BLU-RAY):
Life After Flash (1:33:33) – Feature-length documentary from 2017 featuring Sam J. Jones and his rollercoaster life beyond his time in the role of Flash Gordon, which had its highs and lows. Participants also include the late Stan Lee, Robert Rodriguez, Mark Millar and Sean Gunn, plus other cast members like Melody Anderson, Topol and Peter Wyngarde and more.

Extended Comic-Con Sequence (13:07) is some additional interviews with attendees and talent including Sam J. Jones, Michael Rooker, etc.

Deep Roy Ambition Rap (1:24) – The actor who played “Princess Aura’s Pet” does a rap.

Tell Me More About the This Man Houdini (1:30) – Actor Rich Fuller and Jason Lenzi, the founder of toy brand “Biff Bang Pow!” discuss a scene from Flash Gordon. Basically another interview segment.

Sam J. Jones “Prayer Walk” in full (2:12) follows the actor does a walk in the parking lot at Comic Con. Some of this was seen in the documentary.

Chattanooga Film Festival script read (5:27) is an excerpt from 2018 of the festival’s “Script Gone Wild” featuring Jones performing Flash Gordon with his own voice.

Lisa Downs Interview (12:29) – Director Lisa Downs on her motivation to make the documentary and her experiences during the production.

Topol’s Stamps (2:14), Topol’s Awards (2:03), Topol’s Jordan River Village (5:59), Topol’s Portraits (2:17) – The actor shows off various items in his home as well as his charitable institute.

Boston Sci-Fi Fest (4:49) – Footage of the “Life After Flash” premiere.

Alex Ross Talks Early Art (9:09) – Interview with the popular comic book writer/artist.

Melody’s Paintings Extended (3:20) – Some extended footage with the actress and her work as a painter.

Private West End Screening (1:37) – Some behind-the-scenes footage from the first UK screening of Life After Flash at London’s iconic Prince Charles Cinema.

Kickstarter Video (2:38) is a promotional video to gather funds for the documentary.

Mexico Sequence (10:24) – More interviews with Jones discussing his new-found career in high profile security in Mexico.

Flash Gordon Starts a Fire (0:50) – Outtake with Sam J. Jones starting a fire in the midst of his wife giving an interview.

Brian, Tim, Magda Love Triangle (2:31) – Brian Blessed recounts a humorous tale involving Timothy Dalton about Magda, who played one of the Cytherian Girls.

Sam and His Wolf (4:17) – Sam J Jones talking about his arctic wolf pet.

Brian Gooses Melody (2:31) – Brian Blessed talks about filming the scene in which Flash and Dale are reunited in Vultan’s sky city.

Deep Roy’s Eastbound & Down (2:08) – The actor discusses his audition for the TV series.

Rochdale Extended (7:11) – Footage from Dale-Con in Rochdale, England, where many of the cast were in attendance.

The Late, Great Peter Wyngarde Uncut Excerpt (9:18) – Footage with the actor who passed away in 2018.

Trailer (2:19)

 

 

VIDEO – 4¾/5


Flash Gordon arrives on 4K Ultra HD through Arrow Video presented with a 2.35 widescreen aspect ratio and 2160p high-definition. According to the booklet, the film’s original 35mm camera negative was scanned in 4K 16-bit resolution and there was extensive restoration work done, reduction in density fluctuation and flicker on numerous optical and processed shots. In addition, due to this being such high resolution, some wire work was digitally removed, with the approval of Mike Hodges. So, in short, this is an amazing looking picture and another homerun by Arrow showing off some incredible detail throughout, colors are vibrant (and there’s plenty to show off given the bright palette) and the original film grain and noise is on display.

AUDIO – 4½/5


The disc comes with two tracks, the first and default is DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track and the second containing 5.1 channels. As with the picture, these tracks underwent some sort of restoration, utilizing the original stereo track while the other one, some sort of issue was fixed with the LFE channel. In any case, either one of these sound well done, dialogue comes through with nice clarity and there is some modest depth coming through the front and rear speakers on the 5.1 track.

 

OVERALL – 4½/5


Flash Gordon might’ve been a box office disappointment back in 1980, and reviews weren’t very kind, however over the 30+ years, it has seen a resurgence with a passionate fan base and while some story elements are a bit weak, I still found this to be an entertaining romp through and through. This “Limited Edition” 4K Ultra HD from Arrow is well put together, including a documentary and associated bonus features.

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