Buck preceded Flash Gordon in the funny pages by a few years, but by the time he hit the big screen his adventures were definitely overshadowed by the goings-on over on Mongo. The main knock against BUCK ROGERS has always been that's it's an inferior knock-off of the FLASH GORDON serials, but it's probably better than FG CONQUERS THE UNIVERSE and actually stands by itself as one of Universal's better chapterplays (there I go, damning with faint praise).
The strengths of the serial include three of its four leads; Buster Crabbe is the greatest of all serial heroes, tightly coiled, ready for action, not too good with words. Constance Moore is suitably charming as Wilma, although no match for Jean Rogers, and Jackie Moran is one of the few kid tagalongs in chapterplay history that's not annoying. Unfortunately, Anthony Warde as Killer Kane suffers immeasurably from comparison to Charles Middleton. The fact that Warde looks exactly like Thomas Dewey makes him seem more silly than menacing; ya know he was bound to lose.
The miniatures are pretty well done for a Universal, although the rocketships make the same "Norelco electric razor" sounds as Flash's did. The highlight of the chapterplay is the constant use of "degravity belts", which are about as realistic as Senor Winces sticking a tuft of hair on his hand and simulating a puppet. There's a good supporting cast, including C. Montague Shaw, Henry Brandon, Ken Duncan and Philson Ahn, who is apparently the worst actor on Saturn.
The costumes are not too good, and the zugg men all look like Harpo Marx flashing a "gookie".
I can't remember anything else about this one, but I'm sure everybody has lost interest and I'm down here at the end of the review, all by myself. So I'll give BUCK ROGERS two stars; enjoyable, not a masterpiece, but fun, which is what this is all supposed to be about. The end.