— Limited Edition —
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure
Arrow Video | PG – 111 min. – $59.95 | August 18, 2020
Date Published: 09/23/2020 | Author: The Movieman
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.
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):
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.
Original Trailer (1:59)
DISC 2 (BLU-RAY):
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.
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.