Flash Gordon

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1980

Okay, some brief background here from my standpoint. I first saw the old Flash Gordon serials on tv when I was like 7 or 8 and liked them. Around that same time my brother had some Flash Gordon comics from the 60’s and I enjoyed those as well. When the 1979 cartoon came on I was in awe of it. A year later here are these commercials for Flash Gordon movie. I was interested but my parents didn’t take us to the movies back then. No one I knew went to see it. So I forgot about the movie until about three years later when I picked up a three pack of the comics adaption of the movie for a buck at the Dollar Store. I read them one after the other and kind of liked it and thought hey maybe the movie is good, but I never had a chance to see it. Years went by I saw the serials again a few times and enjoyed them for what they were. Still I never got around to seeing the 1980 film, but somewhere along the line I kind of decided I didn’t really want to see it because as I met people who had seen it they were normally like oh, it’s so funny, cheesy, corny. Well, I can appreciate that kind of film the only thing is I had liked Flash as a character of real action not as a hoot or a gas or a knee slapping popcorn flick for someone to look down their nose at. Anyways blah, blah, blah I eventually decided to stop being sour and break down earlier this month, buy it and give it a chance on a rainy Sunday afternoon with the kids. I’m skipping the cast this time to get straight to the film because unlike me you probably saw this a bunch of times already.

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Why no we are not from around here.

What’s this about? So Flash Gordon is a star player for the New York Jets. Wait a good offensive player for the Jets in the early 1980’s? Now that is science fiction. Anyways he wears a shirt with his name on it you know in case he forgets and then he gets tangled up with a wild scientist Zarkhov and a woman with poofy hair named Dale (not to be confused with the male chipmunk of the same name). Eventually kaplooey they go to another world that looks like a bunch of paint cans blew up everywhere decorating everything and everyone in blinding colors. The evil guards wear crimson so you won’t see the blood when they get whacked. There’s lots of red in this film too as just about everyone wears it at one time or another. Ming you know the merciless loves red and really short hair cuts and spinach on his chin. I think there’s some spotty plot about Flash trying to stop Ming from destroying earth or something. Remember Earth it’s that place without winged warriors, painted skies and silly shiny baddies. Flash eventually plays a game of “let’s stick our hands in a stump and wait to die” with James Bond who is dressed as Robin Hood. When that gets boring (no, not the bore worms or is that boar worms) they move on to other stuff. Eventually everyone’s fighting kapow, blast, boom. Ming and Dale are to wed and you’ll get some executions while you wait hey cool, but the prisoners get free aww boo no executions. The good people are trying to blast, push and fly their way to stop the wedding. Obviously Ming and his guards took shooting lessons from Imperial storm troopers. Flash crashes a flaming ship into the palace. He accidently impales Ming and green blood spurts out although of a dark shade of green as opposed to the prettier shade of green of Spock’s blood. Ming still tries to stop Flash with a glowy ring pop, but Flash waggles a plastic misshapen sword at him. Ming fades away, the good people smile. A hand picks up Ming’s ring pop and a question mark after The End keeps it open for a sequel, but that never happened because only people in the UK went to see it. Roll the credits.

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Behold my jazz hands.

The negatives- Sam Jones is okay and maybe his stiffness works alright as the craziness just goes on around him, but I kept expecting him to warm up some and that never quite happened. Also Melody Anderson is very mediocre. She also starts out okay, but actually gets more annoying as the film goes along. “I’m lost, Aura” -that’s the truth.

The positives-Max Van Sydow plays it mostly straight as Ming and that works and he certainly looks the part. Brian Blessed is wonderful and loud as Vultan plus he has a great bread as always. The sets are mostly pretty cool in a tacky, blinding sort of way. They candy colored skies fit in well in everything else. The pacing is generally good as although much of this is campy jokes they knew when to jump to something else and not overstay their welcome on a part unlike other films like Galaxina. The soundtrack by Queen is fittingly over the top and actually compliments the film.

I cringed at a few parts, but overall it’s good. It’s not Starcrash, but it’s good and I’ll re-visit it again soon.

The Running Man

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1987

Who’s in this?
Ah-nold is in this like you didn’t know.

So is Richard Dawson, Jessie the body, Jim Brown, Professor Toru Tanaka and well that’s already enough reasons to see this and my guess if you should have already seen this a bunch of times.

What’s this about? So this big dude is set up to take a fall and ends up in a futuristic prison, but soon he and some others escape. Not so fast he gets caught and this time a woman who was unwillingly with him gets taken too. But, hey no prison this time instead they get a chance at freedom by getting to compete on “The running man” a real life brutal game show where the contestants have to get past Stalkers- big old killers with goofy names. Richards (Arnold) of course fights back while delivering one liners and wins out eventually. Dawson gets his and roll the credits.

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Share, boys share.

The negatives-Some people like to look back at 80’s action films and tilt theire noses up (like today’s action films are so sophisticated). This film may get the cheese label thrown it at times.

The positives-The action is solid even if some of the effects are dated. The pacing is a definite plus here and that makes up for a lot. Arnold stands up pretty well here and seems very comfortable with the part. Maria Conchita Alonso was in my mind far better than most of the leading ladies that end up in Arnold’s films. Richard Dawson is awesome in being so over the top and cruel. The supporting cast in general are everything they needed to be.

This has always been one of my favorite Arnold films and one that I feel like I am always in the mood to watch.

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How shiny, just like a headlight or a firefly’s butt.

1980’s science fiction action films

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So it’s 1980’s sci-fi action film week here at my blog with two reviews down and two more to come. Having been born in 1970 I was growing up in the 80 and spent my teens in that decade so I watched a lot of films. I was already into science fiction by the time the 80’s rolled. Sci-fi films from other decades certainly had action, but the action genre got bigger and more spectacular plus even more over the top in the 80’s. Other genres like sci-fi caught on to that trend and brought some of those elements into science fiction films. Films like Predator, Road Warrior, Escape from New York and many others had sci-fi elements like future dystopias, aliens and other ideas as the heart of their plot. Yet brute force, weapons and explosions became important means to solve these situations. The best films of this style managed a certain balance between plot, action and some type of thinking to accomplish getting past the hurdle of the story. However like any other decade there were film makers with less money and less ideas that wanted to cash in so we got a lot of cheaper copies through out the decade too. That can be fun to an extent. Any of you that are of a certain age may recall going to a video store between say 1985 and 1992 strolling over to the sci-fi section and seeing these colorful boxes of films that immediately came across as being “inspired” by the Road Warrior, Escape from New York, The Terminator and others. These films may not have had anyone you ever heard of it but some of them had some decent action and others were just what you’d expect them to be. The 1980’s was far from a perfect decade for this type of film, but many of those films were fun and there are certainly some classics from that time as well.

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The Raiders of Atlantis

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1983

Christopher Connelly as Mike a Vietnam Vet turned baddie who eventually turns good again sort of. He was perhaps best known for his role in Peyton Place. He was in a lot of tv shows and films in the 70’s and 80’s. He died from cancer at just 48 in 1988.

Tony King as Mohammed/Washington-Mike’s friend and partner in crime. King breifly played for the Buffalo Bills in the late 60’s He was in a few films including Shaft and The toy, but eventually got into the security business.

There’s a bunch of other people running around shooting and getting blown up.

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Trick or treat

What’s this about? A bunch on nonsense goes on and eventually poof part of Atlantis pops up. Hey these guys appear to have seen The Warriors, The Road Warrior and Escape from New york because they are all rough, semi-punk rip you up gang type people. Our normal people are outnumbered and quickly find themselves fighting for their lives. Kapow go the explosions and krakakrakskraka go the guns because it’s an 80’s action film. The mean group seem to get killed quickly but they don’t care because they are descended from people from Atlantis and they are determined to rule over commoners from Miami and other places like that. The bad guy’s leader appears to be wearing something that looks like a cross between a fishbowl and a dollar store mask. Lots of people die, very few live and a bubble goes back over Atlantis in the end. Roll the credits.

The negatives-The story is thin and really it’s far more an action film than a sci-fi film. Originality is not this film’s strong point.

The positives-I hope you have not fled yet because although this film gets a lot of crap it has a lot of strong points. If you like 80’s action then there is a lot to like here. The main characters are likable enough. The action is non-stop as they just keep going from one crazy scene to another. This island Atlantis sure has lots of weapons and everything blows up or catches on fire very easily which all leads to a lot of fun. The stunt work is quite decent as well. People get set on fire quite often. Guys jump from a helicoptor onto a moving bus with ease and a couple of guys take some 15 feet dives into shallow water. Too many people dismiss this film quickly, but if you like 80’s action then it’s worth a shot. The director was Ruggero Deodato who is most known for Cannibal Holocaust (which I have never seen), but many of his films have a following so Raiders does have a cult following in some circles and it’s easy to see why.

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Let’s just hang out here until an evil gang shows up.