Synopsis: LIFE AFTER FLASH explores the life of Sam J. Jones since his iconic performance as ‘Flash Gordon’ in the 1980 classic of the same name, and the aftermath of the young stars’ clash with one of Hollywood’s biggest legends, producer Dino De Laurentiis. The film is an inspiring and moving feature documentary that celebrates what makes that Mike Hodges enduring classic so iconic with audiences to this day, and looks at the real man behind the heroic mask: his successes, his battles, and his ultimate struggle for redemption.
What We Thought:
I’ve been wanting to see Life After Flash since I first heard about it for two reasons. One, I’ve always had a soft spot for the cult classic that is Flash Gordon. I saw it as a kid, own it on Blu-ray and just completely enjoy the over-the-top ridiculousness of the film. Second, I met Sam J. Jones on the set of Ted in 2011. I worked background on the film in the house party scene where Mark Wahlberg and his stuffed live bear Ted do shots and much more with the real life Sam J. Jones. I talked to Sam on set in between takes and he came across as such a good dude.
So what did I think of the documentary? I really dug it. It shows what Sam is doing nowadays, his security job and traveling around doing different conventions and it also gets pretty personal. He’s not shy about his choices and clashing with Dino De Laurentiis during the making of Flash Gordon. He’s not shy about what his choices and those clashes did to his career. He admits to listening to the wrong people and not being a good husband and person at different times. He’s a family man now, but he does open up about his struggles after the film and not having the career he expected. It’s somewhat rare to hear such brutal honesty nowadays and someone taking responsibility for their decisions and not blaming the world.
There’s a lot more about the making of Flash Gordon than I expected in the documentary and I’m 100% OK with that. Honestly, this should be required watching for film classes. It talks about casting and production. It shows how certain scenes were shot especially the winged characters on wires. Through old and new interviews incredible actors like Brian Blessed, Max von Sydow and others talk about their roles and acting in the film. Flash Gordon had a slew of problems including issues with directors, Dino De Laurentiis wanting a more serious film and Sam J. Jones leaving and being dubbed over. They don’t hide the fact that production was a nightmare and that the film wasn’t what most of them expected it to be. It may be a beloved cult classic now, but it was not the box office juggernaut and franchise tent pole it was supposed to be. In fact, Jones’ contract was for multiple films and most of the cast expected it to have sequels.
I also loved the scenes with Queen’s Brian May. Queen did the soundtrack for the film and let’s be honest, the theme song might be as iconic as the film itself. May in the documentary sits at a piano and plays a little bit of the song which is awesome in my book.
Life After Flash is a fascinating look at a man who could have been huge, but bad choices, issues with a producer and a movie not living up to expectations lead to a life of ups and downs. Friends and family talk about the man that Sam J. Jones became and fans talk about the impact the movie had on pop culture. As a fan of both Flash Gordon and Sam J. Jones, nothing else to say but…
Writer & Director: Lisa Downs
Cast: Sam J. Jones
Producers: Lisa Downs & Ashley Pugh
Executive Producers: Sam J. Jones, Aleksandar Smiljanic, & Matt Pasant
Runtime: 94 minutes