FLASH GORDON -- At the Embassy Circle, K-B Bethesda, K-B Cerberus, K-B Cinema 7, NTI Landover Mall, Roth's Parkway, Roth's Tysons Corner, Showcase Beltway Plaza, Showcase Fairfac Circle, Showcase Oxon Hill, Springfield Mall and Wheaton Plaza.

Let's hear it for dumb blonds!

Flash Gordon has a perfect body (if you're into inverted pyramids), blank baby face, bleached hair and lots of revealing costumes -- sort of a boy Barbarella. His girlfriend, Dale Arden, is a feisty, wisecracking brunette who's strong as an ox. Whatever else is wrong with "Flash Gordon," the role reversal makes a good gimmick.

This movie needs one, too. "Flash Gordon," a combination "Superman," "Batman" and Star Wars," doesn't have much of an identity of its own. They haven't camped it up enough. The costumes are fun, but the special effects are not what you'd call mind-boggling. When a city explodes it's like scale models of Disneyland toppling down amid billows of dry ice.

The explosions take place on the planet Mongo, where Flash, a quarterback for the New York Jets (nice touch), and Dale, a travel agent (even nicer), and Dr. Hans Zarkov, a discredited scientist, set down in Zarkov's rocket ship. They are all taken prisoner by Ming the Merciless, a bad person. Ming wants to kill Flash, marry Dale and destroy the earth. It's not giving too much away to say that after a few narrow escapes, Flash saves the day.

Though it's hard to understand what Dale sees in Flash, they do have a few choice moments together. "You look great," the big galunk says adoringly when he meets up with Dale in Ming's torture chamber. "It's the eye make-up," nods Dale. Melody Anderson is delightful as Dale though it does seem as if she wandered into the wrong movie. Topol is another unlikely touch, downplaying his role as Zarkov the scientist ("I expect you'd like to use my phone," he offers when Flash and Dale crash-land in the middle of his greenhouse).

As for Flash, poor thing, so what if he's no match for their wits? He cuts a fine figure in a black leather bikini.