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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: Flash Gordon - The Saviour of the Universe Edition

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#1 of 21 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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Posted August 08 2007 - 11:53 PM

http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4f/ronsreviews_covers_84769.jpg">FLASH GORDON

Posted Image
Studio: Universal
Original Release: 1980
Length: 1 hour 52 mins
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/Comedy

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Colour/B&W: Colour

  • English Dolby Digital 5.1

    Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
    Rating: PG

    Posted Image Posted Image

  • Release Date: Aug 7, 2007

    Rating: Posted Image Posted Image ½ / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

    Starring: Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, Daniella Muti, Max von Sydow, Timothy Dalton and Mariangela Melato

    Written by: Lorenzo Semple, Jr.
    Directed by: Mike Hodges

    Flash Gordon arrives in a new DVD edition, with a digitally restored picture and soundtrack, and a few extras to boot. The film itself is a fairly enjoyable romp, with deliberately campy dialogue and design work throughout – effectively restaging the old black and white serial adventures in a lavishly colored environment. The acting is highly reminiscent of the old serials, and the plot pulls many elements from there, but there are a few surprises here and there. While the performances are primarily bold-faced high camp (Brian Blessed stands out in the crowd for an especially enthusiastic contribution) and the sets and costumes are gloriously artificial, the film still dazzles with the sheer amount of rich colors on display. I have not seen a film so full of bold reds, greens and even blues since The Wizard of Oz, to which it actually feels a bit similar.

    Flash Gordon has been on DVD previously in this region (back in 1998), but I don’t believe the prior release was anamorphic. Also, the prior release featured a 2.0 soundtrack, while the new release has remastered 5.1 sound. While the film has been released in other regions with more extensive special features, including commentaries with the director and Brian Blessed, the new release does not contain these features. Instead, the new “Saviour of the Universe” edition includes exclusive Alex Ross artwork both on the cover and box art, but also on a collectable postcard contained in the case. An interview with Alex Ross has also been included, along with writer Lorenzo Semple, Jr., as well as the first episode of the first serial, an unrestored trailer, and a 14 second title tease of the new Sci-Fi channel series.

    Posted ImageVIDEO QUALITY: 4/5 Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

    Flash Gordon is presented in a vibrantly colorful anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer. This was a pleasure to behold – the colors are solid and extremely rich throughout and the black levels are deep. This transfer alone is a good reason to pick up this disc, especially if you’re already a fan of the movie.

    Posted ImageAUDIO QUALITY: 3/5 Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

    Flash Gordon is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 English mix. No other languages are available. The mix itself is okay – the surround channels really just get used for the Queen music that fills the movie. There’s a little more activity in the battle sequences that pop up throughout, but it’s pretty clear that it’s a 2.0 mix that’s just been given a little TLC.

    Posted ImageSPECIAL FEATURES: 2.5/5 Posted Image Posted Image ½

    Flash Gordon has a few special features, but nothing approaching the R2 “Silver Anniversary” release that many collectors here are still talking about.

  • Alex Ross, Renowned Comic Artist, on FLASH GORDON - (Non-anamorphic) (13:29) - This is a brief non-anamorphic interview with Alex Ross, intercut with footage from the film, and shots of him doing the sketches and artwork that appear on and in the DVD packaging. Ross is clearly a big fan of the film, viewing it as, among other things, a rock opera. The only issue here is that Ross has no real connection to the film other than drawing the artwork for the new release – so all he can offer is his praise of the movie. It’s nice to see the footage of him working, but there’s not a lot of meat here.

  • Writing a Classic: Screenwriter Lorenzo Semple, Jr.– (Non-anamorphic) (9:16) Lorenzo Semple, Jr. is interviewed about the script in this brief non-anamorphic featurette. Semple talks about working with Dino de Laurentis, and the challenge of writing an English script for an Italian producer who would wind up reading Semple’s work via a bad translation. The one factor to this interview that makes it a bit more interesting is that Semple is a fairly acerbic personality. Rather than offer the usual platitudes of affection for the project or the filmmakers, Semple very plainly says what he thinks and feels about the process of writing this script. Not all of it is totally complimentary, but it feels like he’s just calling it how he sees it.

  • Flash Gordon 1936 Serial Episode – (Non-anamorphic Full Frame) (20:44) – One pleasant item included with the package is the first episode of the first Flash Gordon serial. It’s a lot of fun, and there are a surprising amount of plot points and style points that are echoed in the 1980 film.

  • Original Trailer (2:01) – An unrestored trailer for the film is included with the other goodies. It has been edited in much the same fashion as the film, and punctuated with the title song by Queen. The trailer is showing its age, but it serves as a pretty good barometer of what has been restored for this edition.

  • FLASH GORDON SciFi Channel TV Show Trailer(Non-anamorphic) (0:14) – This trailer for the new TV series runs a total of 14 seconds – just enough to show the title card. The timing of the release of this DVD would seem to be in connection to the new series’ debut.

    Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish for the film itself, as well as for the special features. A standard chapter menu is included for quick reference. And a special postcard of Alex Ross artwork has been included. This last item, plus the decorated DVD case itself would seem to be the primary collectable aspect of this release.

    IN THE END...

    Flash Gordon gives new definition to the term “Camp Classic”. The film boldly goes down that road, with results that have delighted some fans while confounding others. For myself, the script and the performances didn’t get me, but the lovely picture and all the colourful creatures certainly made this a more enjoyable experience.

    Kevin Koster
    August 8, 2007.

    #2 of 21 OFFLINE   Jason_V



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    Posted August 09 2007 - 02:07 AM

    I'm really bummed about the lack of really meaningful extras. This could have been a completely tricked out special edition to coincide with the new series if they had wanted to. Alas, this version is already on the shelf, just screaming at me to be watched. Posted Image

    Thanks Kevin!

    #3 of 21 OFFLINE   Jeff Swindoll

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    Posted August 09 2007 - 03:46 AM

    The size of the box makes you think it's going to be a two-disc edition, but it's sadly just a single. I wonder if it was going to be and they couldnt get the rights to the UK SE stuff??
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    #4 of 21 OFFLINE   TheBat



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    Posted August 09 2007 - 07:34 AM

    the comments made by the director are probably not in favor with us audience.. compares ming to some goverment people.. they would probably have to edit his commentary. Jacob

    #5 of 21 OFFLINE   James Phillips

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    Posted August 09 2007 - 09:22 AM

    Shame about the extras. Still, judging by the comparison shots on DVDActive, picture-wise, it looks like the new DVD blows the other editions out of the water, which is the most important thing.

    #6 of 21 OFFLINE   TonyDale


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    Posted August 09 2007 - 12:00 PM

    What's up with the opening credit sequence though? As dvdsavant stated, it looks as if those credits are 4:3 while the film itself is 2.35:1.
    We are just surrealist pilgrims, melting clocks in marble halls. . .

    #7 of 21 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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    Posted August 09 2007 - 08:44 PM

    I'll look at the credit sequence again. I didn't have that problem, but I could have missed something there. (I've only caught such a problem on the Alpha Dog disc, and in that case, it was unusual enough that I took the disc to a home theater store to confirm the problem.)

    Also, there was a reference to a problem with the spindle in another thread. I really don't have any problem with the box or the spindle. DVD came right out to play.

    The more I think about the film, the more striking the parallels are for me to The Wizard of Oz. The colors, the imagery, some of the plot - I don't know - do you guys agree, or am I simply off my rocker?

    Also, between this and Hot Fuzz, I have just seen Timothy Dalton in two films more than 25 years apart. He's great in both of them.

    #8 of 21 OFFLINE   James Phillips

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    Posted August 10 2007 - 12:31 AM

    The title sequence has always been like that, for whatever reason. The end titles are stretched, too.

    #9 of 21 OFFLINE   Jason_V



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    Posted August 10 2007 - 12:50 AM

    Kevin, I think you're actually off your rocket.

    BaDum Dum. Posted Image

    #10 of 21 OFFLINE   RobertSiegel



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    Posted August 12 2007 - 01:38 AM

    I liked this movie, it's just plain corny fun with a greatQueen soundtrack, and although some of the special effects seem cheap, I like the art direction, it's a film that looks like some of the older sci-fi films would. Vast improvement over the pan and scan laserdisc (hehe). Now Universal, where is The Promise (70's love story), Pirates of Penzance (never been a widescreen release on any format, 2:35:1), Rosie (Audrey Meadows, Leslie Neilson and Ros Russell), the movie PUFNSTUF (with Mama Cass), and I would love a special edition of Xanadu.

    Classics on Blu-ray is what it is all about!

    #11 of 21 OFFLINE   JeffMc


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    Posted August 12 2007 - 03:13 AM

    Universal released "THE PROMISE" earlier this year in a "DANIELLE STEEL" collection. I believe it's only full-frame, though.

    #12 of 21 OFFLINE   Edward Weinman

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    Posted August 12 2007 - 08:48 AM

    www.hdnet.com (movie channel) showed Flash in HD yesterday.

    I saw part of it (which was enough for me) but...it looked remarkable!

    #13 of 21 OFFLINE   Chris Atkins

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    Posted August 14 2007 - 12:51 AM

    Enjoyed watching this on again. Boy is it a different experience as an adult! I don't think I had seen the whole thing since I saw it in the theater back when it was released. I quite enjoyed the attack on the Ajax, which I thought was the highlight of the film. I also enjoyed most of Arboria, and some of the creatures there were quite terrifying.

    #14 of 21 OFFLINE   Jonathan Kaye

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    Posted August 14 2007 - 01:08 AM

    Posted Image


    Sorry, someone had to.Posted Image
    "There's no point in being grown-up if you can't be childish sometimes" - The Doctor.

    #15 of 21 OFFLINE   Kevin C Brown

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    Posted August 20 2007 - 01:00 PM

    Good review. Posted Image Is there still the question of whether the original release was nonanamorphic? I still have that one, to check, how would I do it?
    If it's not worth waiting until the last minute to do, then it's not worth doing.

    KevinVision 7.1 ...

    #16 of 21 OFFLINE   Stephen_J_H


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    Posted August 20 2007 - 02:26 PM

    The original release was non-anamorphic. To check, if you have a 16:9 display, it depends on the display. With my 26" display, I set it to full and non-anamorphic titles are unnaturally stretched. Yours may be different, but, as an example, if your DVD player is set to 16:9 and your display is set to auto, your display may show non-anamorphic titles with black bars on all 4 sides (windowboxed).
    "My opinion is that (a) anyone who actually works in a video store and does not understand letterboxing has given up on life, and (b) any customer who prefers to have the sides of a movie hacked off should not be licensed to operate a video player."-- Roger Ebert

    #17 of 21 OFFLINE   Kevin C Brown

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    Posted August 21 2007 - 12:51 PM

    Thanks. Guess I need to get the new one. Posted Image
    If it's not worth waiting until the last minute to do, then it's not worth doing.

    KevinVision 7.1 ...

    #18 of 21 OFFLINE   Kevin M

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    Posted August 21 2007 - 04:43 PM

    .....Lying B**ch.

    I remember my mom back in the day gasping at that line in a theater full of younger kids at a Saturday matinee.....the earlier line of "man, this chicks turning me on!" didn't go unnoticed either. Posted Image
    -Kevin M.

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    #19 of 21 OFFLINE   TonyD


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    Posted August 21 2007 - 07:29 PM

    the new disc is miles better then the old one, but still could have been much better. a bunch of electronic noise if you will. maybe grain, couldnt tell i would give it a 3 out of 5 for pq origional disc a .5 or 1. i also thought it was a bit dark. i needed to punch up the bright a bit.

    #20 of 21 OFFLINE   Chris Atkins

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    Posted August 22 2007 - 01:39 AM

    I didn't remember any of those lines from the theater (I did see it with my dad in the theater) and was shocked by them when I watched it on DVD!

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