I really liked it when I first watched it a few years ago, but on second viewing not quite as much.
I remember it being heavily featured in Famous Monsters--but I wasn't interested in it (no monsters).
Battle Beyond the Stars was more appealing (it had a lizard man).
It was much cheaper looking and also had humor, but not the "we know this is silly" kind. John Saxon's bad guy is entirely serious (he did not play it for laughs-even the rebellious arm scene!).
There's something rather quaint about Flash Gordon as a concept though, it was bypassed by developments in alien concepts--a Lion Man seems kind of funny now as an alien species. Winged Hawk-Men--you kind of expect them to be more than just bearded guys with wings--but having alien faces too.
Interesting that its said above that there isn't enough adventure, I'd counter and say that it's all an adventure. Granted its a bit of a whistle-stop film too in that its clearly pressing into itself a lot of ground (I recall animated series that came later often spending far longer etc...) to get from "arrives on alien world" to "saves the universe". That said it paces itself well.
I wonder if part of its pacing and style is that the further back we go the more actors we have who have a strong theatre background to them and that in a film like this that element starts to shine through. Whilst in modern times we've a lot more actors who are used to the film set or even the green screen set alone. The style of presentation and acting varies and in films like this, as in a good many of the earlier "Musical Disney" films; we see that strong element of the theatre showing through. It's a different style of engaging without breaking the 4th wall.
That said I think its remained a strong film because we don't have many adventures today. Couple that to the fact that sci-fi has honestly become quite "hard/serious". I'd wager the closest we get to a fantasy-sci fi today is the Marvel/DC/comic films (which have their own issues)
Flash Gordon is one of those films I love unashamedly. The cast is perfect, the story works, and I love Queen's soundtrack. I find people who don't like this film made up their minds before ever seeing it.
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