Title: Flash Gordon (1980)
BD-25 Single-Layer Disc
Audio: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (2.39:1 theatrically)
Subtitles: English, French, and Spanish
Run time: 112 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Region Coding: Region Free
Equipment used for review: Sharp LC-46SB57UN 46″ 120Hz 1080p LCD (24fps), Onkyo TX-SR606 7.1 Receiver, Onkyo SKS-HT540 7.1, & LG BH200 Super Blu
Sam J. Jones as Flash Gordon
Melody Anderson as Dale Arden
Max von Sydow as The Emperor Ming
Topol as Dr. Hans Zarkov
Ornella Muti as Princess Aura
Timothy Dalton as Prince Barin
Brian Blessed as Prince Vultan
Peter Wyngarde as Klytus
Mariangela Melato as Kala
Directed by Mike Hodges
My take: (the breakdown)
Flash Gordon is probably one of the cheesiest, campiest, and worst written films made in the last 30 years, but oddly enough it still holds its own in 2010. The film did not receive a proper anamorphic release on home video until 2007 and we now have that master utilized again for this newly released Blu-ray version. When Flash Gordon, quarterback for the New York Jets, accidentally ends up on a planet known as Mongo he discovers that it’s quite different from Earth. With his two companions, Dale Arden and Dr. Hans Zarkov, Flash ends up confronting Emperor Ming, the ruler of this alien world. Ming possesses evil and mysterious powers, but like any selfish ruler is dependent on fear to keep the populace in line. When Ming decides to take Dale for himself and have Flash executed he soon realizes that he is in for more than he bargained for when it comes to “pathetic Earthlings.” Worth a rental if you’ve never seen it and true fans should pick this one up without hesitation since it’s the best the film has ever looked and sounded on home video. Due to some brief moments of sensuality and violence this one might not be suitable for young children.
Flash Gordon is a film with a color palette that is loaded with sparkly, shiny, and bright surfaces. Thankfully all of these colors are reproduced perfectly on this Blu-ray edition. Flesh tones are also extremely accurate without any noticeable problems. Grain is moderate and is never noisy or distracting. It looks as if some minor DNR was applied to some backgrounds to tone down the grain, but it was certainly done with a well trained set of eyes. Even with the minor DNR fine detail is top notch for a 30 year old film as hair, pores, and clothing textures are easily visible no matter how wide the shot. This is easily the best version of the film available and Universal should be commended on their treatment of this sci-fi adventure.
The fans of the film know that Flash Gordon owes much of its publicity and success to Queen and their fantastic soundtrack for this release. Queen’s songs and instrumentals are all perfectly replicated here and fill the front and surround channels evenly without becoming overbearing. Dialogue is clear and well prioritized most of the time and I never had to adjust my volume. Other than a few louder effects and the musical score the surrounds do not see much activity. Most of the action is restrained to the front channels, but I suppose a 30 year old film can’t be perfect in every regard. The LFE is accurately presented here without any issues whatsoever. I found that the sub is always working whenever Queen’s musical score fills the sound field.
If you bought the Saviour of the Universe DVD Edition that was released in 2007 then you’ll recognize all of the extras from that release. There’s a couple interviews as well an interesting documentary on the comic books and 1930s that both feature Flash Gordon. The film’s original theatrical trailer is also included. All of the above features add up to nearly 40 minutes and are presented in 480p.
Final word: A Purchase For Fans
The screen captures below have a resolution of 1024 x 576 (originally 1920 x 1080) to help with load times. Thanks goes to Photobucket for their excellent image hosting and to the readers of this review.