Saturday, December 17, 2005

And some QBs just want to throw 20-30 with no INTs: "Flash Gordon"

This was like seeing the Mona Lisa with a pageboy haircut.

Let me explain. I love "Flash Gordon." For me, it's the perfect combination of cool movie when I was a kid that has remained entertaining -- with the added benefit of being really silly -- now that I'm an adult. And come on ... Queen did the soundtrack! Even with that, it's hard to believe the movie is 25 years old. Then again, it's so cheesy and poorly written and acted that it's clear it would be savaged by critics if released today. And come to think of it, I'm pretty sure it didn't get rave reviews from adults back then, either.

Unlike today's comic book movies, "Flash" dispenses with any notion of explaining why anyone does -- or can do -- what he or she does. This isn't a problem in the first few minutes -- sure, I can see Flash and Dale Arden flirting on their little plane trip, then him trying to save her from being hijacked by Hans Zarkov for his rocket trip. But it doesn't take long for things to get waaayyy out there, and I don't just mean to the Mongo system.

But isn't that the appeal? Who doesn't want to see Flash Grodn -- "Quarterback, New York Jets" -- stand up to Ming the Merciless right away by bouncing mini-watermelons off guards heads? Who doesn't have a problem with Dale knowing how to shoot a ray gun while escaping from Ming's bedroom? Flash can fly an Ajax war rocket? Sure!

Like I said, it's silly, but lots of fun. Just imagine if they had gotten Kurt Russell to play Flash and Dennis Hopper as Zarkov. Instead, we get unknown Sam J. Jones as our hero, who was so good he promptly won roles in ... um, well ... "My Chauffeur?" "The Highwayman?" Yikes. Check out his IMDB page, and tell me 75 percent of these titles aren't made up.

I could ramble on with my favorite quotes -- some prefer "Flying blind on a rocket cycle," but I'll go with "Tricked ya, Barin!" But suffice it say I would love to have this on DVD -- it's the giving season, people -- and always try to watch when it's on TV.

So I was pretty happy to see it on last weekend, even if on the local UPN station. No matter, I figured, I can just TiVo it and breeze through the commercials. What I didn't realize is that the movie's full running time of 111 minutes meant cutting several scenes to fit the two-hours-with-commercials slot. Cutting scenes? From "Flash Gordon?"

Not to get melodramatic, but it almost hurt to watch. More than once, I found myself yelling at the TV, "Hey, what happened? Come on!" I suppose nothing crucial was lost, but anything removed almost ruins the experience. As it is, I'm waiting for the 25th anniversary director's cut with extra footage, especially if they involve Princess Aura showing Flash just how much she likes him. In detail. Woof.


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