Flash Gordon (1980)

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Flash Gordon (1980) Movie Poster Image
Sci-fi comic-strip movie is too intense for younger kids.
  • PG
  • 1980
  • 122 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 6 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Declaration about the unconquerable nature of the human (Earthling) spirit. Ming keeps his conquered moons under control by encouraging them to fight each other; Flash helps unite some of the captive kingdoms of Mongo to fight against the tyrant.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Simplistic notions of good (Flash) and evil (Ming) here, although there are other characters, like the Robin Hood-ish Prince Barin and Ming’s Flash-infatuated daughter Aura, who seem to flip back and forth. Though people of color are part of Mongo’s empire, they don’t play very big roles.


Combatants are killed unrealistically by ray-gun blasts (from...crossbows?!) and impalements. Hand-to-hand fighting, which sometimes is so hilariously fake that the blows barely connect. Characters stabbed to death (exhibiting a small amount of blood which is blue or green, but never red). Other characters are whipped bloody. Threat of death by gas. Several cyborg-like humanoid baddies dissolve, remove body parts, or have them ripped out.


Ming lusts after Dale Arden and fondles a slave girl. Talk of Ming “making love." Alien girls wear revealing metallic bikinis and skin-tight outfits. Occasional double-entendres are likely to go over the heads of youngsters.


”Damn,” "hell," “bastard.”


People magazine used as a prop.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink an intoxicating and evidently enjoyable space beverage. A fleeting joke about being “on the right pills” (apparently in reference to steroids or energy-boosters).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this adaptation of an old newspaper sci-fi comic strip has gruesome scenes; a cyborg’s eyes are ripped out, and another slain machine-man rapidly decays. Expect abundant ray-gun fire, disintegrations, and explosions and fires, as well. Characters are stabbed or impaled or whipped, drawing blood (not always red). There's an apparent execution via gas chamber. There are a few scantily clad harem-type girls and some non-explicit sexy talk. Drinking an intoxicating alien beverage is made to look pleasurable. Some minor profanity.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymormongirl99 February 4, 2012

Innuendo Ridden 80s film

It's one of those movies where most of the stuff will go over kids' heads, but any adults in the room (or anyone who picks up on innuendos) should be... Continue reading
Adult Written bybabygirl92293 March 29, 2012

i love this movie :)

i grew up with movies like this... I think its a good movie :) some things are a bit innappropriate but its nothing to bad... if anything the movie is really ch... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bygayfurrylol May 28, 2020

Kids won't be as scared but there is some violence.

This movie is cheesy, fun and never takes itself seriously AND THAT IS A PERFECT MOVIE this movie may not be for some people but defiantly me I love this movie... Continue reading
Kid, 7 years old November 14, 2020
Flash Gordon is good and has a bit of action. Ming the Merciless can be a little creepy but okay for nine year olds. I'm younger than nine and I found it f... Continue reading

What's the story?

Flash Gordon (Sam Jones), a handsome football star, is on a chartered plane caught in a meteor storm caused by an alien supervillain, Emperor Ming (Max Von Sydow), who actually is at a giant console in space, tormenting Earth while pushing buttons that say “METEOR STORM.” The plane crashes near the greenhouse-lab of rogue NASA scientist Dr. Zarkov (Topol), ready to launch his homebuilt rocket ship to visit Ming’s world and beg for peace. Flash and his pretty travel agent Dale Arden (Melody Anderson) wind up on Zarkov’s rocket and land in Ming’s planet surrounded by low-atmosphere moons, each inhabited by a different race (dwarves, lizard-men, hawk-men) enslaved by sadistic Ming. With the secret help of a lustful princess, Flash leads a revolt against Ming and his cyborg henchmen.

Is it any good?

Coming in an era when the merciless emperors of Hollywood were copycatting Star Wars in every way, the blockbuster FLASH GORDON remains daringly offbeat. As with the (more brazenly sexy) European 1960s fantasies Barbarella and Danger: Diabolik, also based on comics, there’s practically no attempt at realism, with extravagant Arabian-Nights costumes, Oz-like creature f/x, crayon-box sets, and sparkler-trailing model spaceships inspired directly by the iconic 1930s strips and serials. It's a party for the eyeballs, nearer Rocky Horror than LucasFilm. Dialogue is loopy, the plotting earnestly absurd (Flash fights his first battle against Ming’s minions with NFL football moves), and the famed rock soundtrack by Queen is the best camp anthem since Adam West's Batman (with the same screenwriter, incidentally). Older kids and young-at-heart grownups could have a blast- - if they don’t mistake the deliberate, sly kitsch for big-buget dumb.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the film’s way-out retro style and lighthearted attitude. Is it entertaining, or do younger viewers prefer their comic fantasy characters to be fashionably dark, tough, and brooding (as Batman has become)?

  • Is the violence here necessary? Does it add to or take away from the story?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sci-fi

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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