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Exuberant and extraordinarily camp adaptation of the 1930s comic strip. Directed by Mike 'Get Carter' Hodges, no less
Sam J Jones's credentials as a centrefold for 'Playgirl' magazine were sufficient for him to be cast as Flash Gordon, a man capable of saving the world from the evil Ming (Von Sydow). Let's face it, his 1930s predecessor, Buster Crabbe, wasn't Einstein or an actor either, and those camp serials had an appeal that lingers.
The film was to have been directed by Nicolas Roeg, but Mike Hodges, the Briton responsible for the gritty Get Carter does a perfectly good job of bringing this technicoloured sci-fi world to life.
Such high jinks are, of course, really a team effort - and nobody falls short. There's cheesey anthemic rock music from Queen, Brian Blessed makes a superb shouting hawkman, Timothy Dalton has more fun than he mustered in his entire Bond career, Peter Duncan's character dies, Ming is definitely merciless and Flash is a miracle. Plus, the whole design of the film is memorable, all swirling smoke and wafting chiffon. Credit goes to Italians Ferdinando Scarfiotti (production design) and Danilo Donati (a sometime Fellini and Pasolini collaborator who provided both set decoration and costume design).
There's plenty of colourful fun and an awful lot of men in tights. Don't listen to its pofaced detractors - for sheer cinema fun, Flash Gordon can't be beaten.
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