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Flash Gordon: 30th Anniversary Edition [UK Release] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English PCM 2.0
  • Region: AB
  • Classification: PG
  • Discs: 2 (Blu-ray+CD)
  • Studio: Optimum Home Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: August 23, 2010
  • RRP: £24.99

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Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]

Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]

Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:3/5]

1980’s Flash Gordon is most notable for its rockin’ Queen soundtrack, the sexy Ornella Muti as Princess Aura in a tight red cat suit, its tongue-in-cheek dialogue and campy tone, despite a cast that included major actors like Max Von Sydow and a pre-007 days Timothy Dalton.

Unintentionally funny, and pretty bad all around, this sci-fi flick based on the 1930’s comic strip has nonetheless built up a fairly large fan base over the years, even garnering a SciFi Channel (now SyFy) series a few years ago that pretty much copied the style of this very film very closely. Or perhaps it just copied the original comic strip, because that’s what this 1980 film was intended to do, imitate the original campy style of that strip and not take itself too seriously, just like the 1960’s Batman T.V series, which shared a writer.

The blond quarterback Flash Gordon (Sam J. Jones), reporter Dale Arden (Melody Anderson), and crazy scientist Dr. Zarkov (Topol) are stolen away to the planet Mongo where the leader Ming the Merciless (Max Von Sydow) is threatening to destroy the Earth. Flash and his companions get caught up in the problems of the alien world and must fight to overthrow Ming by bringing together the different tribes of Mongo who Ming keeps in his grip, in order to save the Earth. First, however, Flash gains the aid of Ming’s own daughter, the sultry Princess Aura (Ornella Muti), who helps Flash escape death.

Flash Gordon is true silliness from start to finish. Quirky, foolish, and sexy, with lavish, over-the-top costumes and an electronic soundtrack from Queen that is really the heart of the film, it’s not a cinematic masterpiece, but it may be the best bad sci-fi film ever made.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The film has been pretty nicely cleaned up, although some source damage still appears throughout, and it is rendered on Blu-ray in a 2.35:1 AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encoding.  Grain seems to have been reduced, but there is still a thin layer apparent. Detail is strong in the foreground, but tapers off and softens. Colors are a bit oversaturated which leaves flesh tones inconsistent, showing some red push on occasion.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3/5]

Flash Gordon is given two English soundtracks, a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix and a PCM 2.0 mix. The 5.1 mix doesn’t add much to the surrounds outside of a lot of ambience, making it sound more like a reprocessed 2.0 mix than anything else. There is a wide spread across the front channels with intelligible dialogue, but there’s a lot of audible crackle, particularly on the louder sound effects.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

On the disc you’ll find a brief interview segment with director Mike Hodges and audio commentary with the director as well. The release also comes with a CD of the motion picture soundtrack by Queen.

The supplements provided with this release are:

  • Interview with Mike Hodges (1.78:1; 1080i/50)
  • Audio Commentary with Mike Hodges
  • Queen Soundtrack CD

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

If you turn off your brain and stop listening to your inner critic for ninety-minutes, Flash Gordon will offer up a pleasurable enough experience. It’s a popcorn movie, so get out you kernels of choice and throw them in the microwave, and get ready for some laughs, because this is one sci-fi film that doesn’t take itself seriously at all, and that is something very different for these times. This Blu-ray release from Optimum is quite sparse for a 30th anniversary edition, but it supplies a nice enough looking hi-def picture for your display given the film’s age.

Additional Screen Captures:

[amazon-product align=”right” region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B003TFUJD6[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

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