Avengers Assemble and Flash Gordon Double Feature Review
by John Seedhouse
Guardians of the Galaxy launches onto the Giant Screen today. This is a very good thing. I am very excited at the prospect of seeing one of my favourite comics move from darkly humorous page to vast square footage of projection screen.
So why I am writing a review before seeing the film? I’m not.
Yesterday the savvy thinkers who book these things put on a very cool double feature at The Giant Screen Millennium Point. Actually they probably missed a trick by not promoting it as a “Sci-fi Double Spectacular” because that is exactly what it was.
Here was a chance to see Marvel’s Avengers Assemble AND Flash Gordon. 2 great movies of potential Earth destruction.
Here in the UK we have never really had that whole 2-film-drive-in-rubbish-b-movie thing going on. That is a real shame because it is exactly what cinema needs to put bums on seats the day before a blockbuster arrives. There is even a song about just how great this can be.
What are the key ingredients for a good sci-fi romp (as opposed to a brown-trouser alien death piece)?
- Weird space threats
- FX – many many many FX
- Sex appeal
- At least one larger than life supporting character.
Clearly this isn’t an exhaustive list but I am not a fan of too many bullet points in one section.
Marvel’s Avengers Assemble gives us heroes aplenty. Bang. On-screen. Big green guy, thunder god, frisbee guy, armour, arrows and scary redhead. They wear costumes and they are BIG. They kick some ass and they jump around a lot. Aliens arrive and (SPOILERS) get smacked down. Marvel does this very well.
Flash Gordon is a football player. He is big, dumb and blonde. This is all he needs to be. He makes women (and men) swoon and he looms large on screen – even in shiny metallic shorts. He might only have 14 hours to save the Earth and (Do I need to say SPOILERS for a 30 odd year old film?) does so with barely seconds to spare.
WEIRD SPACE THREATS
Max von Sydow. Some gnarly faced spear-carrying killy things.
Where to start with Flash Gordon. The audience tonight sniggered at the “choose your passage” moment so that pretty much sums it up. Avengers Assemble?
This is the sublime to the cor-blimey isn’t it. Traditionally 3D drive-in movies were not good. Avengers Assemble has some great (expensive and expansive) 3D. This is an FX overload. Flash Gordon on the other hand? Riddled with some really great ideas and yes, they were acceptable in the 80s. Those skies might just have Pink Floyd written all over them.
Tick. “Dino” De Laurentiis brings the whole Danger:Diabolik sexiness of the swinging 60s to the film even when director Mike Hodges hammers in some Get Carter-esque “realism”. The stunning lack of depth to Dale Arden is “of its time” and this gets away with Camp Kitsch for the sake of not deriding some of the dodgier elements. We can probably balance it out with Tim Dalton’s 70s porn mustache…
Avengers Assemble gives us comic book athleticism across the gender gap without resorting to the horrific 90s Rob Liefield distortion of anatomy.
LARGER THAN LIFE CHARACTERS
What have we learned?
Double features rock. We had a great evening watching 2 very different takes on the perils that face the Earth. Avengers Assemble is still a great movie and works too well on the Giant Screen. Flash Gordon is still fun. It’s trashy. It has a Queen soundtrack. It’s horrifically sexist and would never get made today but a theatre full of arms in the air for Brian Blessed make it more than worthwhile.
There should be more double features. For the films? 4 Shields and a pair of dubious joy-boy shorts. For the experience? 2 Popcorns and the plea for party poppers. Well and truly in the mood for Guardians of the Galaxy now.
John Seedhouse is a child of the 80s reading an Avengers annual under the covers and having to chose between Flash Gordon or Smokey and the Bandit at the cinema… You can find him online here, here and here. Other reviews can be found here and here.