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Ultra HD : Highly Recommended
Release Date: August 10th, 2020 Movie Release Year: 1980

Flash Gordon (40th Anniversary Restored Edition)(UK Import) - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Overview -

He's a miracle! Flash Gordon celebrates its 40th Anniversary in grand style with a brand new 4K restoration that leaves every previous home video release in the dust. With Dolby Vision HDR, two audio mixes, and hours of bonus features to pick through, StudioCanal gives fans the perfect giftset with the film's soundtrack from Queen and composer Howard Blake on top of some pretty nifty swag. It's a big box of stuff, but if you're a massive fan, this is a great way to celebrate! Highly Recommended

NOTE: For this review, HDD was only able to acquire the Zavvi SteelBook in a timely fashion - my order of the full StudioCanal set has been inexplicably sent back to the U.K. mid-transit. If/when I acquire this release I'll update any missing details in the bonus features package. This SteelBook release doesn't include all of the swag, CD soundtrack, or the second Blu-ray bonus disc that includes the documentary Life After Flash

Flash Gordon 4K 40th Anniversary Edition Overview

FLASH GORDON is the 1980 space opera film adaptation directed by Mike Hodges (Get Carter, Black Rainbow) based on the comic strip of the same name created by Alex Raymond and adapted for the screen by Michael Allin (Enter The Dragon) and Lorenzo Semple Jr (King Kong). Produced by Dino De Laurentiis (Serpico, King Kong), with cinematography by Gilbert Taylor (Star Wars IV: A New Hope, Dr. Strangelove), the film is also notable for the soundtrack, which was composed, performed and produced by Queen with orchestral sections by Howard Blake.
The Flash Gordon comic strip ran as a daily from 1934 to 1992, followed by a Sunday strip which ran until 2003. The comic was an influence on early superhero comic characters, from the costume and inverted narrative of a heroic alien on earth in Superman to Batman’s first appearance in the Detective Comics, with its DNA still evident in characters today. Raymond’s comic was also an influence on the wider sci fi genre, from James Tiberius Kirk to Star Wars. George Lucas loved Flash Gordon so much, he tried to get the rights from King Features to make the film. However, King Features had Federico Fellini and then Nicolas Roeg in mind before turning to Hodges, but Lucas still cites the comic as an inspiration for his famed space saga.
“Flash, I love you! But we only have fourteen hours to save the Earth!”
Our planet is under attack! An unexplained energy wave has pulled the Moon out of orbit, sending it careening towards Earth. Strange natural disasters bombard our world. Baffled scientists are at a loss as to the cause of the chaos. A lone voice – brilliant, but disgraced, scientist Hans Zarkov (TOPOL) – is convinced that these catastrophes are of extraterrestrial origin and predicts that we only have 10 days before the Moon crashes into Earth, destroying all life. Humanity is doomed!
Realising that he alone cannot stop these sinister attacks he forces football hero Flash Gordon (SAM J. JONES) and New York travel-agent Dale Arden (MELODY ANDERSON) aboard his makeshift rocket ship at gunpoint. Their destination – the mysterious Planet Mongo. On this strange new world all life cowers under the cruel reign of Ming The Merciless (MAX VON SYDOW), an intergalactic tyrant who demands absolute loyalty under pain of death. Aided by his menacing, golden-masked henchthing Klytus (PETER WYNGARDE) he holds the fates of whole peoples in his icy grip, and Earth is but his latest plaything.
After crash-landing on Mongo Flash, Dale and Zarkov are immediately captured, and taken to the spectacular Mingo City city to face the wrath of Emperor Ming. Flash is sentenced to death, Zarkov to have his mind erased and reprogrammed, while Dale faces a fate unimaginably worse: to become Ming’s bride!
Enlisting the help of Ming’s daughter Aura (ORNELLA MUTI), Flash escapes his execution and flees, but his adventures have just begun. Seeking sanctuary in the forest world of Arboria he meets Prince Barin (TIMOTHY DALTON) and undergoes the terrifying trial of the tree insect. Flash prevails but he and Barin are captured by the mighty Hawkmen, with whom Arboria is at war, and taken to Sky City where Prince Vultan (BRIAN BLESSED) forces them into a fight to the death. But with Dale still imprisoned Flash must make friends of these warring princelings and enlist their help to overthrow Ming, rescue Dale and prevent the annihilation of Earth.
Our only hope is Flash Gordon . . . saviour of the universe!


The UHD, DVD and Blu-Ray Disc 1 includes:

?      The main feature (1 hr 47)

?      New Lost in Space: Nic Roeg’s Flash Gordon (also iTunes extra)

?      Audio commentary with Mike Hodges

?      Audio commentary with Brian Blessed

?      Behind the scenes of Flash Gordon

?      Stills gallery (also iTunes extra)

?      Storyboards gallery (also iTunes extra)

?      Original theatrical trailer


Blu-Ray Disc 2 includes:

?      Interview with Mike Hodges

?      Interview with comic book artist Alex Ross TBC

?      Interview with screenwriter Lorenzo Semple, Jr. TBC

?      Episode 24 of Flash Gordon (1979-1982): The Survival Game / Gremlin’s Finest Hour

?      Sam Jones’s acting start

?      Entertainment Earth on Flash Gordon merchandise

?      Bob Lindenmayer discusses deleted scenes and original endings

?      35th Anniversary Greenroom

?      35th Anniversary reunion featurette

?      Renato Casaro extended interview

?      Brian Blessed anecdotes

?      Melody’s musings

?      On the soundtrack (Brian May & Howard Blake)

?      Easter Eggs


The 5 disc Collector’s Edition includes:

?      The UHD and 2 Blu-ray discs

?      Bonus Blu-Ray Disc of LIFE AFTER FLASH, the 2017 feature documentary celebrating the film and it’s star, directed by Lisa Downs

?      Original soundtrack by Queen & Howard Blake

?      32 page booklet

?      16 page Titan mini book (The Story of Flash Gordon)

?      Reproduced booklet of the first strip of original comic books

?      Poster of original artwork

?      4 artcards of various incarnations of Flash film posters across the years

?      1 sew on 'Flash patch'

TECH SPECS - 1980 / Feature running time: 1hr47mins / Certificate: DVD: PG - Blu-ray, Steelbook & Collector’s Edition: 15

Highly Recommended
Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + 3 x Blu-rays + Audio CD
Video Resolution/Codec:
Dolby Vision HDR / HDR10
Aspect Ratio(s):
English SDH
Release Date:
August 10th, 2020

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


"Flash I love you, but we only have fourteen hours to save the earth! "

For my rambling nostalgic fan-fueled review of this 80s classic - read my review of the Check Disc

Now to finally have the actual discs in hand, the final disc is identical to the check disc I was sent - no differences or final tweaks. Even though it was only just a couple of weeks ago, I couldn't help myself watching through this movie again. Admittedly this time around I replayed the "football" throne room fight and the big Hawkman battle sequence more than a few times before moving on with the movie. With this restoration, there's so much more detail to see that certain sequences I felt like I had to keep watching it again to see everything. This may not have been the smoothest production ever, but damn did it come together to create one hell of a visually intricate film.

Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray

Flash Gordon 40th Anniversary makes its grand 4K UHD Blu-ray debut in a massive 5-disc swag-filled box set containing 1 4k UHD Blu-ray disc, the film on Blu-ray with two additional bonus features Blu-ray discs plus a soundtrack CD. The swag package includes a 32-page booklet, 16-page Titan mini-book "The story of Flash Gordon", comic strip reproduction booklet, original artwork poster, four art cards, and 1 sew on Flash patch. Per standard, the 4K UHD disc is Region Free, but the three standard Blu-ray discs are Region B locked. 

The Zavvi exclusive SteelBook release only offers the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc, the feature film standard Blu-ray, and the main Blu-ray bonus features disc. It doesn't include the Life After Flash bonus disc.

Video Review


From my review of the Check Disc I reviewed of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray - my thoughts and options haven't diminished after what amounts to five or six viewings now. If anything I'm even more excited about it!

While I thought the 2012 Universal Blu-ray was alright, it was ankled by some ill-advised DNR that pulled out the natural film grain presence and deprived the image of essential details outside of facial closeups. I am very happy to report that no apparent DNR was employed here. Film grain retains a natural film-like quality allowing for a full range of details to survive in every frame. The film looked incredible when it was at a simple airstrip in the beginning or in Zarkov's laboratory - but man, when they get to Planet Mongo and Ming's reception hall it's like Dorothy walking out into Munchkin Land.

There is so much incredible production design and costume details on the screen you have to pause to appreciate it all. I already loved looking at this movie but now I was feeling like I was seeing so many details for the first time. Hell even at the landing strip you can clearly spot Robbie Coltrane as the airplane attendant. But man those costumes of the different cultures of Mongo - I really wish we'd gotten more time with them because they're so cool! Part of what makes these such visual splendors in 4K is the intense handcrafted quality of them. The beads in Ming's cloak is intricate - but now also Dale's black wedding dress at the end is a real highlight for details. This isn't to say this is a completely flawless transfer, there are a few lingering issues cooked in that only stand out more. Softness in the initial photography is still there for some sequences. Harsh lines with the blue screen backgrounds are still rough around the edges. Mat lines stand out even more for a few of the sequences but that's the worst of it. The image is free of any speckling or scratches. 

For this restoration, Mike worked with the team to dig back into the film and remove some of the wires holding up the space ship models and Vultan and the hawkmen for the Ajax attack sequence. Overall it's very clean and you can't really tell they removed them. A couple of sequences where they were initially "painted" out in 1980 still look lighter than the rest of the scene but those are relatively brief moments. 

Dolby Vision HDR does exactly what it should and add extra pop and highlights to the colors, brighten whites, and make blacks nice and inky. Again - the costumes! I'll refer back to Dale's wedding dress again because those black beads pick up a lot of spectral highlights as does the metallic armor of Ming's guards. Red and Green are major colors of the film and they come through with terrific pop as do blues - especially with one hapless character's blood early on smeared on a golden sword. 


Audio Review


From my review of the Check Disc I reviewed of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray -

This 5.1 track sounds like it's been rejiggered a little to allow for a more distinctive surround presence with some object placement and a little more side/rear activity - but - it still feels like the front/center channels haul the main load. When the songs from Queen come on they appropriately dominate the mix making for a really exciting soundscape for the big hawkman battle scene. 

Just as welcome is the DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo mix. While this film did get a 6-channel surround mix for some theatrical exhibitions, the one time I saw this in theaters it only had a stereo track, and that's always felt more natural to me than a full-on surround track. To that, it really is dealer's choice as I like both tracks here. I do lean towards the 5.1 mix because I love how the soundtrack fills all of the channels. The dialog is clean for both tracks and there aren't any unfortunate age-related issues to contend with.

Special Features


With the Zavvi SteelBook you get the bulk of the bonus features of the full 40th Anniversary set's extra features that are also available on the Arrow 2-Disc release - but perhaps not all of the best. The Zavvi SteelBook loses not only the extra soundtrack CD, but it also misses out on the second Blu-ray bonus features disc which includes the Life After Flash 2017 documentary. The commentary tracks are a blast - as I said in my Check Disc review the Brian Blessed commentary is a riot. The additional interview clips are mostly filler and cut moments from the Life After Flash documentary. All in all this is a pretty damn amazing set of features. 

4K UHD Disc / Blu-ray Film Disc

  • Audio Commentary featuring Mike Hodges
  • Audio Commentary featuring Brian Blessed
  • Lost In Space: Nicolas Roeg's Flash Gordon (HD 27:50)
  • Behind the scenes of Flash Gordon (SD 14:27)
  • Still Gallery
  • Storyboard Gallery
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

Bonus Features Blu-ray 1

  • Interview with Mike Hodges (SD 31:47)
  • Flash Gordon Episode 24: The Survival Game / Gremlin's Finest Hour (HD 24:31) 
  • Sam Jones on His Acting Start (HD 4:04
  • Entertainment Earth on Flash Gordon Merchandise (HD 4:20)
  • Bob Lindenmayer on Deleted / Alternate Scenes (HD 2:20)
  • 35th Anniversary Greenroom (HD 8:26)
  • 35th Anniversary Reunion Featurette (HD 6:29)
  • Renato Casaro Extended Interview (HD 5:38)
  • Brian Blessed Anecdotes 
    • Brian Blessed Proves His Point (HD 1:45)
    • Brian Blessed Loves Dwarves (HD 1:57)
    • Brian Blessed's Own Special Effects (HD 3:44)
    • Brian Blessed on Sam as Flash (HD 2:07)
    • Brian Blessed's Raffle (HD 1:00)
  • Melody's Musings
    • Melody Anderson on Her Wedding Dress (HD 1:25)
    • Melody Anderson on Improvisation (HD 1:50)
    • Melody Anderon on Her Hardest Scene (HD 1:32)
  • On The Soundtrack 
    • Brian May on Dino (HD 3:42)
    • Brian May on Recording the Soundtrack (HD 1:11)
    • Howard Blake on Brian May and Mickey Mouse (HD 2:37)

Bonus Features Blu-ray 2

  • Life After Flash (HD 1:33:33)

Final Thoughts

If swag isn't your thing but you still want cool packaging, the Zavvi SteelBook release of StudioCanal's Flash Gordon 40th Anniversary 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release is a nice alternative. However, this comes with the caveat that you're not getting everything this set has to offer. The full StudioCanal set offers an additional bonus features disc as well the soundtrack CD and a bunch of other fun print materials. As the Zavvi SteelBook has sold out, the full StudioCanal set is a pretty damn impressive set. The price point is the only real sticking point but if you're a big fan of the movie, this may be the best way to celebrate the movie and worth considering the import. Featuring a stunning new native 4K restoration with Dolby Vision HDR, two great audio mixes, and hours of extra bonus features - this is the home video release of Flash Gordon fans have been waiting for. Highly Recommended.