Flash Gordon (Sam J. Jones) was a professional football player, but he no longer fights for first downs, instead he fights a battle against the forces of evil. His journey takes him to the planet Mongo, where ruler Ming the Merciless (Max von Sydow) has plans to destroy all of mankind. Flash and his beautiful girlfriend Dale (Melody Anderson) wound on board a ship of scientist Dr. Zarkov (Topol), who has learned of Ming’s plot to demolish Earth. As soon as they arrive, Ming tries to have Flash executed and promises to take Dale as his concubine. But Flash has other plans, so after he escapes Ming’s clutches, he begins to try to seek out help from the kingdoms of Mongo. But can he manage to unite the rival territories of Mongo and take on Ming’s forces, or will mankind be doomed to annihilation?
At time when science fiction was white hot, thanks in large part to Star Wars, a feature film version of Flash Gordon had to seem like a shoe-in for box office success. After all, George Lucas took great inspiration from the original serials, so to bring out Flash Gordon for a brand new adventure couldn’t miss. But 1980’s Flash Gordon did just that, going on to be a bust at the box office and slipping into the void on home video. Now Universal has resurrected this spectacle, probably due to its cult following and we finally have an acceptable version to own. The movie itself is what it is, a colossal mess of sparkles, spandex, and other elements only the disco era could have produced. I can see why people would hate it, as it is a bad movie, but the scope is so grand and hilarious, it is still quite fun to watch. This new Universal release might not be as comprehensive as fans would like, but the movie has never looked and sounded this good before.
Video: How does it look?
Flash Gordon is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This movie has bold, wild visuals and this new transfer really showcases it all quite well. The print is in good condition, with minimal defects to mention, but the real eye opener is how well detailed the image is. I noticed a lot of small touches and subtle details, very impressive indeed, especially for a movie almost thirty years old. The vivid color scheme is replicated spot on, so hues run the spectrum, but not even the richest of reds show any kind of errors. No trouble with contrast either, kudos to Universal on this splendid new transfer.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio has been fine tuned also, so a new Dolby Digital 5.1 option is included. The track sounds good, but the audio is mostly front channel oriented, so surround presence is limited. That never proves to be a concern however, as the sound effects and dialogue never suffer in the least. The surrounds don’t remain silent by any means, as some scenes do bring them to life and of course, Queen’s music opens them up as well. This disc also includes subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
As this release is called a Saviour of the Universe Edition, you would expect it to be loaded with supplements. You will find a few extras here, but this isn’t the exhaustive Special Edition fans have been anxious to see. The first episode of the 1936 Flash Gordon is included, which is cool and might entice some fans to check out the original serials. There are also two brief interviews, one with artist Alex Ross gushing about his love of the movie, the other with screenwriter Lorenzo Semple, Jr., who pulls no punches as he gives his opinion on the movie and how it was handled. This disc also includes the film’s theatrical trailer.