Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe Reviews

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½ April 9, 2016
I love and have a great affinity for serials from the golden age of cinema, and this was definitely one of the better ones I have seen. Previously, I had really enjoyed Buster Crabbe's presence in the post-Weissmuller era of Tarzan, and I have had the DVD of Hodges' 1980 'Flash Gordon' for eons, but wanted to first get to the root of the phenomenon by checking out the serials. Fortunately, in purchasing a 50-film pack, 'Nightmare Worlds' from Mill Creek, it was included.

The 12 episodes of the 220-minute serial were well-edited into the fine flow that this version I saw had, and the special effects and production values were quite decent--you could tell it had been made both by a high-quality studio, in Universal, and by directors quite used to the serial format, in Ford Beebe and Ray Taylor.

There are some goofs (for example, when Ming's henchmen are looking at a mountainside for the four protagonists, and five are shown), but it's action-packed, with interestingly stylized wipe-edits, and I can see how it later influenced the likes of both George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.

As well, it's very interesting how the filmmakers were subtly able to use the film to offer social commentary to the growing Nazi/Fascist movements worldwide that were wreaking havoc across the globe in the Axis of Evil. Heartily recommended to anyone who enjoys the fun side of cinema.
½ April 9, 2016
I love and have a great affinity for serials from the golden age of cinema, and this was definitely one of the better ones I have seen. Previously, I had really enjoyed Buster Crabbe's presence in the post-Weissmuller era of Tarzan, and I have had the DVD of Hodges' 1980 'Flash Gordon' for eons, but wanted to first get to the root of the phenomenon by checking out the serials. Fortunately, in purchasing a 50-film pack, 'Nightmare Worlds' from Mill Creek, it was included.

The 12 episodes of the 220-minute serial were well-edited into the fine flow that this version I saw had, and the special effects and production values were quite decent--you could tell it had been made both by a high-quality studio, in Universal, and by directors quite used to the serial format, in Ford Beebe and Ray Taylor.

There are some goofs (for example, when Ming's henchmen are looking at a mountainside for the four protagonists, and five are shown), but it's action-packed, with interestingly stylized wipe-edits, and I can see how it later influenced the likes of both George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.

As well, it's very interesting how the filmmakers were subtly able to use the film to offer social commentary to the growing Nazi/Fascist movements worldwide that were wreaking havoc across the globe in the Axis of Evil. Heartily recommended to anyone who enjoys the fun side of cinema.
½ December 28, 2015
Flash Gordon is, undoubtedly, the best of all American serials. In a date so early as 1936,Universal was capable of making such an entertainment story, and twenty years later when I watched it for the first time as a kid it involved me in a great adventure and emotion. Buster Crabbe was the hero we always wanted to be in our childhood, and Jean Rogers the beautiful girl we always dreamt to be in love with. Dragons, octopus, monsters,gorillas were also the attraction. Charles Middleton was a great presence as Ming, the Merciless. A true predecessor of George Lucasīs Starwars.
January 17, 2012
Of curiosity value to film buffs. Those who want to see how these old matinee serials influenced George Lucas' Star Wars films will enjoy this.
January 2, 2012
The last of the Flash Gordon serials are definitely the worst of the three, but that doesn't mean its not fun. Sadly a lot of the cast didn't return for this one. The two most important, the hero and the villain, as well as Dr. Zarkov, do return, but I like to see more supporting characters return, and too many are replaced on this one. It is still a solid end to the whole Flash Gordon thing, but it just doesn't have the same level of quality the first, and even second , serials had.
½ January 26, 2011
FLASH GORDON CONQUERORS THE UNIVERSE [1940] from the mid 1910's right to the mid 1950's, the movie serial reigned supreme at the box office. Over a space of twelve to fifteen weekends each new chapter of a serial would play in theatres to a crowd of excited children. But by the mid-1950's the serial died off with the introduction of T.V, the movie however didn't die off thanks to various things like Drive-In movie theatres and Movies in 3-D. During the height of the serial's popularity between the 1930's and 1940's Universal studio's produce one extremely popular serial in 1936 called FLASH GORDON, that serial was such a huge hit two sequels were made , they where FLASH GORDON'S TRIP TO MARS [1938] and finally FLASH GORDON CONQUERORSTHE UINVERSE [1940].

Now since I have not seen the first two serials in this serial trilogy, I won't be able to give a tougher back story at all but what I can do in this review is merely review what I've seen.


THE PLOT: When the Earth has been struck with a deadly purple plague all fingers point to the wicked Emperor Ming of the planet Mongo. So it's up to Flash Gordon, his girlfriend Dale Arden and Dr Zarkov to fly to Mongo to stop Ming's fiendish plans. But when Gordon's old friends of friendly kingdoms on Mongo require his assistance, Gordon and co must now fight the evil Emperor Ming for one final time.

Overall view on this serial is one of a positive nature, although I have not seen FLASH GORDON [1936] and FLASH GORDON'S TRIP TO MARS [1938]. I found this serial extremely entertaining and downright enjoyable, loved the different ways in which Flash winds up in trouble resulting in a cliff-hanger endings before the next chapter, the neat SFX, the opening title scroll which has become a trademark of the Star Wars series and overall fun aspect to this serial , my rating is an easy 70%
Super Reviewer
September 27, 2010
I saw this a long time ago, I should watch it again.
½ December 20, 2009
I grew up watching these old classic Flash Gordon serials therefore I have a bit of a soft spot for them. Love it.
September 5, 2009
A serial of the great Flash Gordon. He is sent to find a cure for a plague caused by an evil spaceman dropping "death dust" from his spaceships on earth (chemtrails, anyone?). If you know the comic or any of the subsequent films/series you know this is cheesy as hell - cardboard sets and cardboard acting. This may in fact be the best of all the Flash Gordon adaptations.
May 6, 2009
this is so terrible...yet so fantastic. the acting looks like it'd be more at home in a high school theater than on the big screen....it's so, so awful....but that's precisely what makes this film so charming. the fight scenes are stupid and drawn out, though...i've seen limp-wristed slap fights that are more believable. while these fights are humorous at first, by the end you'll just be rolling your eyes and wondering why you've got to deal with watching another one of these sad disputes. overall, this is a pretty fun cheese-fest, though...definitely worth a watch.
½ March 8, 2009
Moderately engaging space adventure. Hearing Dr. Zarkov say "robits" never gets old. Buster Crabbe looks pretty good, too.
January 25, 2009
Even for a 1940 serial this had hopeless writing. The same sets get used over and over again. The same four shots of the space ships get used through out the twelve episodes. Men are armed with ray guns, bows, swords and spears, however, any time they fight it is always a wrestling match. I can't really comment on the acting. The scripts are so bad Dustin Hoffman wouldn't have been able to pull off a decent performance. The only thing that saves this is the retro cool factor.
½ December 30, 2008
Haha!! One of the first super heros on the silver screen! Funny, but fairly entertaining :)
October 20, 2008
cheesy in every way, but who cares ITS FLASH GORDON!!!
August 17, 2008
Of course this is great stuff - I ignorantly just laughed at it as a kid, but if you can't see the connections between this and something like _Star Wars_ you might want to check your eyes.

I find it difficult to watch much of it at one sitting, because the spaceships sound so much like leaf-blowers.

Plus the costumes sometimes make me think "this is really just Robin Hood with rockets." Then I think "JUST Robin Hood?? what are you saying?!"
½ May 30, 2008
I grew up watching these old classic Flash Gordon serials therefore I have a bit of a soft spot for them. Love it.
May 4, 2008
Stunningly wondrous. I'd like to have given Buster Crabbe a bottom widening procedure that he'd never put behind him.
½ February 6, 2008
This is the first film serial I've seen (or cliffhanger, or chapter play "mister man"). I watched about an episode a night for the past week or two. It's got some pretty bad acting, the dialogue is cheesy, but I couldn't help but be entertained by it. Watching it, I could tell why the kids in the 30s and 40s loved these things and it would've been cool to experience something like it. Gordon's great, Ming is evil but we never really see why, he just tells people to do evil things while he just sits around. Dale is such a clumsy idiot, always falling and getting herself into dangerous places. Sonja's a bitch. But there are 12 episodes to this thing, it's about 4 hours long, they had to come up with some ways to cause suspense.
The plot is pretty simple, Ming is spraying Earth with "the Purple Death" which is killing everyone, and Flash Gordon and his friends have to stop it. It's basically just an excuse for Flash to travel the "Land of Ice", "The Land of Fire", "The Land of the Dead", etc. The Land of the Dead was the best part, such cheesy costumes, people dressing up like rocks and talking in a hilarious foreign languard, and the giant lizard (which is just a closeup of a lizard). George Lucas would be nothing without these films.
I suggest you check these out, just to see what this kind of filmmaking was like.
December 8, 2007
I get a laugh out of watching the early visual effects used here.
November 24, 2007
This was a Space movie in my day.1940s.You will fall in love with Buster crabbe just like I did.
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