When aliens try to destroy the Earth because….they’re just evil, famous quarterback Flash Gordon and a woman he’s just met wind up on a spaceship along with scientist Hans Zarkov and are taken prisoner by the evil Ming the Merciless. They must struggle to escape and survive in the strange alien world and stop Ming from destroying the Earth.
Aside from being a heroic goody good and a ladies man, Flash seems incredibly bland and uninspired for a main character. I don’t know if this was intentional considering the campy nature of the film, but given that it’s inspired by a comic from the 1930′s, it might just be bad writing. Or maybe they wanted to make the character relatable by giving him the mentality of a teenager.
The love interest Dale also comes across as just a cheerleader and damsel in distress. She only has one scene where she actually kicks some ass, but it isn’t followed up at all. I actually wanted Flash to get together with Ming’s dominatrix daughter. She was at least pro-active and had much more depth to her character, with the implication that her sleeping around is due to sexual abuse from her father.
Dr Zarkov is the only main character I really liked, as he started off in morally ambiguous territory by pointing a gun at everyone. He was also one of the only truly intelligent characters in the film, shown when he resists Ming’s attempts to remove his memory.
Of course, I have to mention Brian Blessed as Prince Vultan, by far the best part of the entire film. It’s so good it got it’s own Family Guy parody. He steals any scene he’s in with his huge presence and hammy acting, and it is glorious. They should have just made the film about him. Tell me you can’t look at this picture without giggling.
There’s nothing really original, as it’s more of a parody of classic sci-fi, with the good verses evil plot, rallying the various races together in unity and overly glorifying the main character. But frankly, this isn’t the type of film you watch for a complex story so you can forgive it.
The so-called-romance between Flash and Dale really annoyed me. They fall in love seemingly instantly and conveniently forget the part where Flash was being fawned over by Ming’s daughter. Why did they even include that if they were just going to handwave it later? Yes, that will be a great story to tell the kids someday.
Pacing and structure:
No real problems here as the story is kept as simple as possible. Nothing is drawn out too long or kept too brief. For instance, Flash and Dale mention early on that they first noticed each other in a hotel, but first we see of them is on the plane. If they had kept in the hotel scene, the film would’ve taken forever to get going, and we really just wanted to get to Ming’s bizarre costume parade.
Did I enjoy it?
Yes, this film is AMAZING!! The campy cheesiness is so fun to watch, everything from the costumes to the over the top acting is laughably enjoyable. The ‘so bad it’s good’ nature doesn’t really make it a film I want to imitate in my own writing, but there is certainly something in there.
What did I learn?
- If you’re going to make your love interest a badass, don’t limit it to just one scene.
- Don’t ignore seemingly important obstacles in the romance subplot.
- Keep the story simple by cutting out unnecessary scenes that otherwise pad out the story.
30 Film Challenge: