George Lucas's homage to Flash Gordon embraces, too, some of the beloved clichés of cowboy, swashbuckler, and aviator movies. The story is set in a remote galaxy in the remote past, so that it can't be mistaken as a reflection of anything in modern-day society except Hollywood hokum, and it can be recommended warmly to anyone with a mental age of under twelve. The miniatures and special effects are the best that money can buy; the wholesome heroes, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford, look as though they've been recruited from a volleyball court on the California coast; the anthropomorphized robots, especially the crotchety one who talks in the voice of a prissy British valet ("I've got such a bad case of dust contamination I can barely move"), are as adorable as your household pets; and the narrative, despite a bewildering prologue three paragraphs in length, is not so complicated or imaginative as an average Captain America comic. Should Lucas be thought primarily benevolent for giving the audience such blissful, innocent, simple-minded thrills, or primarily cynical for deciding the audience requires nothing more? With Alec Guinness, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing. 1977.

Duncan Shepherd

  • Rated PG

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