Film Review – Flash Gordon 40th Anniversary (1980)

Flash Gordon is the hero of probably one of the oldest sci-fi titles in popular culture. First published in 1937, Flash has had many incarnations through comic books, on screen serials, television cartoons and live action shows. However, there has only ever been one big screen adaptation of the blonde, All-American space hero and that’s the cult classic from 1980 directed by Mike Hodge, produced by Dino De Laurentis and with an epic score from Britain’s biggest rock band – Queen.

Gordon’s alive once again as the film is being brought to 4K UHD Blu-ray for the movie’s 40th anniversary with a 5-disc special edition loaded with special features. Ever since it was released, Flash Gordon was like nothing audiences had ever seen before or since as its glitzy discotheque space opera may not have been for everyone. However, for those who loved it then it was a product of the time they lived in that they could adore, a time capsule of what a movie could be like that not only loved the source material, but threw itself at the screen with reckless abandon as it unashamedly was as camp and larger than life than a lot of films at the time.

From Sam J. Jones’ notoriously dubbed performance to Brian Blessed’s leather bikini and Timothy Dalton’s Robin Hood like costume (the only Yorkshireman in space) it really shouldn’t have worked. Yet it struck a chord with audiences who could laugh at the utter madness of it all and soon the wooden delivery of some of the worst lines in cinema became just as quotable as some of the best. Also, we should never forget Max von Sydow’s equally over the top and unsuitably dramatic performance which elevated the film even further and paved the way for other ridiculously melodramatic villains.

Featuring everything that a Flash Gordon fan could want, the 40th anniversary 5-disc edition features everything from never seen before interviews, a new documentary about what happened after the movie’s release and even a copy of the iconic soundtrack. Although the content of the 40th anniversary edition doesn’t just cater for die-hard fans of the film, but for film lovers in general as there is a half hour interview about Nicholas Roeg who was initially meant to direct the film, but was never going to meet eye to eye with its visionary producer De Laurentiis. Now is the perfect time to revisit a classic that wasn’t afraid to be its own thing. Unlike Star Wars and Close Encounters of The Third Kind, Flash Gordon gave and still gives sci-fi fans a completely unique experience.

Sci-Fi, Action | USA, 1980 | PG | 31st July 2020 (Cinema) / 10th August 2020 (4K Blu-Ray, DVD, Digital) | Studiocanal UK | Dir. Mike Hodges | Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, Max von Sydow, Topol, Brian Blessed

The UHD, DVD and Blu-Ray Disc 1 includes:
●      The main feature (1 hr 47)
●      New Lost in Space: Nic Roeg’s Flash Gordon (also iTunes extra)
●      Audio commentary with Mike Hodges
●      Audio commentary with Brian Blessed
●      Behind the scenes of Flash Gordon
●      Stills gallery (also iTunes extra)
●      Storyboards gallery (also iTunes extra)
●      Original theatrical trailer 

Blu-Ray Disc 2 includes:
●      Interview with Mike Hodges
●      Interview with comic book artist Alex Ross TBC
●      Interview with screenwriter Lorenzo Semple, Jr. TBC
●      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 discusses 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 (Brian May & Howard Blake)
●      Easter Eggs

The 5 disc Collector’s Edition includes:
●      The UHD and 2 Blu-ray discs
●      Bonus Blu-Ray Disc of LIFE AFTER FLASH, the 2017 feature documentary celebrating the film and it’s star, directed by Lisa Downs
●      Original soundtrack by Queen & Howard Blake
●      32 page booklet
●      16 page Titan mini book (The Story of Flash Gordon)
●      Reproduced booklet of the first strip of original comic books
●      Poster of original artwork
●      4 artcards of various incarnations of Flash film posters across the years
●      1 sew on ‘Flash patch’