Flash Gordon (1980)

  • Review Date: August 8, 2010
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 1980
  • Running Time: 122 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Sci-fi comic-strip movie is too intense for younger kids.
  • Review Date: August 8, 2010
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 1980
  • Running Time: 122 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

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

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.

Violence

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.

Sex

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.

Language

”Damn,” "hell," “bastard.”

Consumerism

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).

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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?

QUALITY
 

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.
 

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:December 5, 1980
DVD release date:August 7, 2007
Cast:Brian Blessed, Max von Sydow, Melody Anderson, Richard O'Brien, Sam Jones, Timothy Dalton, Topol
Director:Mike Hodges
Studio:Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:Superheroes, Adventures, Space and aliens
Run time:122 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

This review of Flash Gordon (1980) was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 10 years old April 1, 2012
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

A bit dumb

This movie is not the best, but ok
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Educator Written bymormongirl99 February 4, 2012
AGE
18
QUALITY
 

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 uncomfortable with. A lot of very revealing attire (bust-revealing dresses for most women and a pair of leather briefs for Flash). I wouldn't recommend this film- for anyone.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written bybabygirl92293 March 29, 2012
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

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 cheesy :) but hey in 1980 it was cool :) (lol i wasnt born til 93!)and who could for get the theme song from it! Flash AHHH AHHH Savior of the universe!!! :)( gotta love Queen!)
What other families should know
Too much sex

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