New To Blu: He'll Save Every One of Us: Life After Flash (2017) Reviewed

Perhaps one of the greatest science fiction action films of the '80s, the Sam J. Jones starring film, Flash Gordon was an update of the classic character that failed to bank at the box office and had a split reaction among fans. Coming on the tails of the first Star Wars, the studio hoped to have a major blockbuster on their hands, but the release of The Empire Strikes Back the same year had a cold effect on any serious box office returns. Funny enough, the original Flash Gordon serials were one of George Lucas' biggest influences when launching the adventures of Luke Skywalker and his galaxy bound band of humanoids and aliens. 

Years later, Mike Hodges' Flash Gordon would go on to gain a massive cult following as it features one of the best rock soundtracks of all time and a core story about heroics against the most evil of villains, Ming the Merciless. As a modernized version, this version of Flesh sexualized the plot, took broad strokes to be as camp as possible, and injected a cool amount of humor into a movie that could have been way too self serious. Instead, the relaunched Flash broke the mold, turning him into a boyish hero with a heart of gold, that just wants to save Earth from destruction while falling in love with his new companion, Dale Arden but wouldn't mind some side action from Ming's seductress daughter. 

Now, the tale of life after Flash Gordon has made its way to blu-ray and we've finally had the time to check out this history lesson on one of our favorite movies from the decade. Rife with cast interviews, discussions with Brian May of Queen, and side characters that indulge in their appreciation of Flash, this documentary is a true mixed bag of greatness, sadness, and self awareness that's ultimately a tad bit annoying. Sliding over the rails in the third act, Life After Flash is like awesome foreplay that leads to really bad sex. 

Life After Flash starts out strong with a fully realized story on how the updated Flash Gordon came to be. The actors indulge in hilarious stories about producer Dino De Laurentis and revel in the fun they had getting ready to shoot the film. But over time, the laughter turns to sadness as main star Sam J. Jones recalls a troublesome production, his ousting from the project, the eventual voice over that would replace his own vocal personality, and the emotional crash that would leave him on the outskirts of Hollywood success. Then the film turns another strange corner and is tainted with the taste of motivational speeches and religious rumblings. At this point, my brain began to tune out. What started out SO strong, turned into sheer boredom and shoulder patting that just doesn't fit the context of what nostalgia hungry fans want to see and hear. 

More time should have been paid to expanding on Sam's cult status, the comic cons, and how Flash has continued to be a culturally relevant piece of filmmaking that still imparts itself on modern movies. Sure, we get to see what Sam is doing now and quite a few of his friends tell us how he's changed, but the overall product is ultimately a letdown. With 15-20 more minutes of fine detail on the movie itself, this would have been much better. 

Having no previous knowledge of how bad things were during the making of Flash Gordon, this is definitely an eye opening documentary that celebrates the film but also lets us know that everything wasn't perfect. While there are many great moments that will satisfy your need to know, Life After Flash is just mediocre. It's cool getting to see Sam's professional life after the movie and how he rebounded from the dark corridors of depression, but the overall construct of the movie needed much work to really connect with this viewer. 

Life After Flash is out on blu-ray on March 26th. 

-Chris George