Friday, May 04, 2007

New Adventures of Tarzan, Flash Gordon, and the Undersea Kingdom: Part III

Undersea KingdomNow that I've finished all three of them, it's time to wrap up my reviews of these three serials.

The New Adventures of Tarzan stayed pretty strong throughout. Like I said last time, they had a great storytelling engine that let them keep it going as long as they wanted without its getting tiresome. The character of Ula Vale stayed kick-ass through the whole thing and managed to save Tarzan and the men a couple of more times before the end. Seriously, I want to write an Ula Vale novel and I'm going to buy this serial on DVD mostly because of her.

The only major criticism I have is that they ran out of story (or maybe budget) about five minutes into the last chapter. They shouldn't have because of that story engine, but they did and they had to fill the last ten or fifteen minutes with the movie-serial equivalent of a clip show. Basically, Tarzan and the cast have a big party to celebrate their victory and retell the whole serial to the other guests who weren't along for the adventure. Lame, but if you think about it as a long epilogue to an otherwise great tale, it's okay.

Flash Gordon stayed strong throughout. I'm buying it on DVD partly because Jean Rogers is beautiful, but mostly because it's such an amazingly faithful (considering the state of movie effects at the time) adaptation of the comic strip. It is absolutely tons of fun and if Netflix is correct, the first disc of the sequel, Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars should be arriving today. I'm betting I end up buying it too. This has got me way excited to see what The Sci Fi Channel does with the franchise.

Unfortunately, Undersea Kingdom never did get better. For all the good stuff like Crash's dressing up like a robot to infiltrate Unga Khan's headquarters or his getting tied up to the front of a floating tank and rammed into a city wall, there was something awful like Crash and the girl reporter's announcing their engagement at the end when there wasn't the teensiest hint throughout that they were even interested in each other. It's like they had to get engaged because that's what heroes and girls do in the movies, nevermind the fact that the writers completely forgot to lead up to it at all. I'd dearly love to see Mystery Science Theater's ripping into a couple of the episodes (they did the first two in Season Four, but they're not available on DVD as far as I can tell), but that's the only way you'd get me to revisit this one.

Read Part I of this review.
Read Part II of this review.

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