Flash Gordon The Greatest Adventure of All
Flash Gordon The Greatest Adventure of All 1982
I only have one other animated movie to cover after this before I have watched every one that I’m aware of out there which gets me one step closer to my goal of watching every superhero and comic book movie ever made. This film was actually made a few years before it was ever shown. It was initially created as a TV movie by Filmation, the animation studio behind such 80’s staples as He-Man, and many of the DC shows that weren’t produced by Hanna-Barbera, but it was quickly retooled into a TV series. It wasn’t until after the show had been cancelled that they went back to the original footage and aired it as a TV movie as it was intended. It has yet to receive an official release, but it did get a home video release in Japan where it can currently be found online with Japanese subtitles. I was never a big connoisseur of Filmation shows aside from vague memories of He-Man, She-Ra, Bravestarr, and Fat Albert. Watching this I could see the appeal, and it actually felt much more adult than most of what they were known for. There were obvious cost-cutting techniques and rotoscoping, but there was a level of faithfulness that didn’t quite ever come across in the live-action movie. They were able to pull off more monstrous looking creatures within the world and overall more of a sci-fi vibe to it. For me, it didn’t quite come to the fun and campy level that the live-action movie did, it felt like it took the material more seriously, but the quality just wasn’t quite enough for it to be a truly great film.
The plot more or less loosely follows the live action film with a couple notable differences. One is that Flash Gordon is no longer a football star, but instead he’s some type of police or working for a government agency in some capacity. It also is set in World War II Europe for some reason and connects Hitler’s rise to power to Ming’s influence. But there’s still the same characters of Flash, Dr. Zarkov, Dale, Ming’s daughter Aura, Prince Barin, and the Hawkman Prince Vultan. There is also one extra addition with the leader of the Lion people Prince Thun who Flash initially rescues from Aura’s capture only to be captured by Ming. In fact, there’s a lot of capturing going on, Flash and his Earth companions first get captured by a group of blue cave men, then rescue Thun only to get captured together shortly afterwards and split up. Dale gets sent to Ming’s harem, Zarkov to Ming’s lab, and Flash and Thun get sent to the mines. After Aura comes to pay Flash a visit, they stage a revolt only to have Ming flood the mines. Aura joins Flash and Thun for their escape but get captured by Barin and all four of them get captured by Vultan. It’s such an odd escalation of events where the captors become the captives and they all end up working together to defeat Ming.
The animation style itself is something that’s familiar but the seams can be seen throughout. There’s a stilted style to it that belies the time when it was made, but the proportions and overall movements of the main characters have that realistic quality that comes from the rotoscope style where many of the action beats are filmed in live action and then traced over with the animation. There’s also an adult quality to a lot of the writing and action. There obviously isn’t any blood, but there’s plenty of death. There’s space battles between Ming’s robot army in space ships firing lasers that completely disintegrate many hawkmen, plus there are several instances of Nazi imagery including one visual of Hitler himself. There’s also quite a bit of sexual innuendo along with the skimpy or torn outfits for Dale, Aura, and all of Ming’s female guards. There’s one moment where Thun and Flash are talking in Barin’s palace where Thun essentially describes what it’s like to bed a Lion woman, where he focuses on how soft her fur is.
There’s not a whole lot to really say about the film overall, especially if you’re familiar with the live action version. There are plenty of things done in the animation that couldn’t have been done in live-action, like the various giant monsters that Flash fight during the course of the movie. There is a slightly more epic feeling overall to this film, as well as much less campiness. There isn’t a scene where Flash defeats a bunch of guards by using a jeweled egg as a football, but the sexuality is also toned down, if only slightly. It does also have a feel of being intended for television with some obvious commercial break moments built in. The biggest downside is that it does feel overly long and repetitive. I ultimately ended up watching this over two sittings because the first time (admittedly late at night) I was literally falling asleep watching it. The second time, I just struggled to pay attention as I let my attention get distracted by other things. It just didn’t quite hit my nostalgia bone in the right way, but if you’re maybe even just five years older than me, or are a fan of classic animation, this might be right up your alley. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.