Flash Gordon and Hawkmen and Robin Hood What?

Flash Gordon is the first movie by date on my Twitter compiled list of 1980’s films. If you haven’t yet seen it, a low resolution version is available from the Internet Archive. Spoilers follow.

To start, I didn’t know much about Flash Gordon. Is he a super hero? What are his powers? Well, as it turns out…nothing! He has no powers. He claims to be a quarterback and mentions taking airplane flying lessons. Oh, and he’s on the cover of People Magazine and has his own t-shirt line that he wears constantly. He’s famous for being famous. That’s it!

Flash Gordon T-shirt

One of these characters is Flash.

The Costumes

The costumes are easily the most entertaining part of the film.  The best costume is a difficult choice between centurions with wings and court sparkle guys.


The Angelic Centurions

The Royal Wedding

The Royal Guards

Skeletor and Sparkle Guy

Skeletor and Court Sparkle Guy

Robin Hood Guy in Dress Uniform

Robin Hood Guy in Dress Uniform

The Story

En route home from a trip Flash is kidnapped by a mad scientist, captured by an evil galactic emperor, and has to save the earth. Along the way he woos a flight attendant and acquires a sidekick I think of as Robin Hood Guy. Everyone else seems to be along for the ride until they encounter Flash, then turn from evil to sort of good in the process.

Flash spends most of his time getting randomly captured, which turns out to be his real superpower. In one of the better action scenes Flash gets detained by Hawkmen and is forced to fight to the death on a sophisticated rotating platform. This is a strange form of trial by combat for a society with wings, but well.

Flash Gordon Dueling

Flash vs. Robin Hood Guy

Flash eventually manages to escape his 4th? 5th? capture on an flying exercise bike surrounded by Hawkmen and eventually saves the day as heroes do.

Flying Exercise Bike

The Great Flying Exercise Bike Escape

The Music

The soundtrack is by Queen, who often sings FLLLLLLAAASSHHHHHH OOOOH OOOH during action scenes. There’s also a battle melody that was later reused in the 1981 Atari 2600 video game Vanguard. I played that game as a kid!

Google Glass Demo Gone Horribly Wrong

There’s a hilarious scene near the end where a mission control of baddies are doing computer things with a goggle interface. Robin Hood Guy yanks the goggles off of one to repurpose it and things go horribly wrong.

Google Goggles

I can has Google Glass?

Google Glass Gone Wrong


In Conclusion

Flash Gordon is a fun and very silly movie.  Flash seems hooked into a random adventure generator with one scenario after another thrown at him. There’s little point to any of them, but the ridiculous costumes and random surprises make the constant plot twists almost worth it. I enjoy movies with more substance so I’m giving Flash Gordon a B-.