The expensive new version of Flash Gordon is a lot more gaudy, and just as dumb, as the original series starring Buster Crabbe. Sam J. Jones in the title role has even less thespic range than Crabbe, but the badness of his performance is part of the fun of the film.
This film cost around $20 million, a hefty outlay of money for such frivolity. The big differences between this film and the old serial are the lavish sets and costumes, and the colorful lensing by Gil Taylor, who also did Star Wars.
Jones, a former Playgirl nude centerfold whose only previous film role was the husband of Bo Derek in ’10’, lumbers vacantly through the part of Flash Gordon with the naivete, fearlessness, and dopey line readings familiar from the 1930s serials.
Film benefits greatly from the adroit performance of Max von Sydow as Emperor Ming.