In 1981, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded over two dozen Oscars for excellence in films. Flash Gordon didn't win a single one.
Poor Timothy Dalton. Everyone else in this film realized from day one that it was just something to pay the rent. Yet here Tim tackles his role with such vigor, such determination, you just know he's going for the Best Supporting Actor award. Didn't he realize that this was a bad movie? Didn't he read the script? How could he miss the "Flash plays football with Ming's guards" scene? Wasn't he in that scene?
Everyone else is just having a grand ol' time. Prince Vultan, fat winged guy, puts the "bomb" in "bombastic." Channeling Lois Lane, Dale Arden plays the role of the ditzy reporter who's always getting into trouble superbly. Flash Gordon is portrayed as a man who can only be described as a "lovable lunkhead." One might think the actor wasn't stretching too far from home (see also Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe on NBC's Friends). However, Timothy Dalton's presence is out of place here. It's like having Patrick Stewart playing the Stage Manager in a high school production of "Our Town." Sure he was good, but what the heck was he doing there?
But enough about Timmy, let's get to the plot (or rather, the story):
Flash and Dale's plane crashes on top of Doctor Zarkov's assistant, who is running away because he doesn't want to go to Mongo in a rickety rocketship the Professor made out of coconuts. When Flash asks to use Doctor Zarkov's phone, the Doc tells Our Hero that the phone is in the rocketship over in the corner. So of course they both go in to use the phone but are soon trapped and off with Zarkov to Mongo!
There we find out that Ming is evil. Flash plays football with Ming's guards using a large egg and is later killed but brought to life later on by Princess Aura who whisks him away to Timothy Dalton and his Merry Men. Meanwhile, Ming decides to marry Dale Arden and mind-wipe Doctor Zarkov. Flash tries to get the various Principalities of Mongo to team up and fight Emperor Ming. Doctor Zarkov survives the mind-erasing by remembering things, and Aura puts the moves on Flash and Timothy Dalton.
Flash, Timothy, the Merry Men, and the Hawkmen lead an attack on Ming's fortress to what is called on the soundtrack "Vultan's Theme" but what I remember as "The Theme from the Arcade Game Vanguard Whenever You Flew Through an Energy Replenisher Area." Ah, the early 80's. But anyhoo.
The good guys take over war rocket Ajax and use it to crash into Ming and Dale's wedding ceremony in the hopes that this will disrupt it. Proving that every time Flash tries to land a plane he kills someone, Ming is skewered on the pointy thing at the tip of the war rocket. Flash and Dale hug, Timothy Dalton and Prince Vultan hug, and the Earth is saved.
Hard to believe that Timmo wasn't even nominated.
Scene to listen for: The Wedding March. The wife and I came so close to playing it at our wedding but relented for her mother's sanity.
Scene to watch for: Flash using the phone.
Best line: "Do you promise not to blast her into space...until such time as you deem it necessary?" "I do."
Thing that makes you go "Huh?": If all the Hawkmen can fly, why do they have rocket cycles?
4.5 Turkeys on the IaBBBBM scale.