It’s very easy to see how this movie came to be. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was a hugely popular cartoon series and toy line throughout the ’80s so why wouldn’t it get made into a live action film? Dolph Lundgren had just gone mano y mano with Sly Stallone in Rocky IV and was looking to expand is action film cred. Conan worked for Schwarzenegger, why wouldn’t this work for him? And who better to play the nefarious Skeletor other than the man that had played a very effective Count Dracula nearly ten years earlier (Academy Award nominee Frank Langella).
And what about the fact that the cartoon takes place in the mythical world of Eternia? Your average movie goer might not be able to relate to that. Well, why not transport them to Earth and introduce two human characters for our audience to relate to? And there you have it: Masters of the Universe the live action adaptation of a cartoon and toy line. And it’s just as horribly amazing as you would expect it to be.
While fighting Skeletor and his cronies, He-Man, Teela (Chelsea Field) and Man-At-Arms (Jon Cypher), meet a dwarf creature named Gwildor (Billy Barty) who made a key that can transport anyone anywere. Needing to escape they wind up on earth, but loose the key. The key falls into the hands of two humands, Julie (Courteney Cox) and Kevin (Robert Duncan McNeill). Kevin thinks it’s some kind of sweet new synthesizer and starts messing with it. Pretty soon Skeletor’s cronies are on earth searching for He-Man and the key and all kids of wackiness ensues.
Maybe my memory is fuzzy, but I don’t remember any guns in the cartoon. However, He-Man uses a laser blaster more than he uses his sword. Many scenes in Masters of the Universe feel like they could be scenes out of a Star Wars except the Stormtroopers are black instead of white. This film feels more like Flash Gordon than the sword-and-sandel style fantasy of the cartoon.
Also (and a bit of a SPOILER), the way Skeletor dies at the end is exactly the same as the death of the Emperor in Return of the Jedi, which got a really good laugh out of me.
I think what’s most impressive about this film, is how some of these lines of dialog were delivered without the actor bursting into hysterical laughter. Now that is some seriously good acting.
And as a friend recommended to me, “stay to the end of the credits.”
This film is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio. This is the first time I’ve seen this film, but for an 80’s sci-fi film it looks really good. Definitly a really good transfer.
Commentary: Gary Goddard is pretty proud of this film and he provides a lively entertaining and informative commentary. Theatrical Trailer
Masters of the Universe is pretty entertaining. It’s terrible, but entertaining. But the one thing I kept thinking about through the whole thing was: I wonder if Courteney Cox and Jennifer Aniston would argue on the set of Friends over who had a worse first movie experience.
Warner Bros. presents Masters Of The Universe. Written by: David Odell. Based on the Mattel toy line. Directed by: Gary Goddard. Starring: Dolph Lundgren, Frank Langella, Courteney Cox, Robert Duncan McNeill, Billy Barty, Jon Cypher, Chelsea Field and James Tolkan. Running time: 105 minutes. Rating: PG. Released: October 2, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: Courteney Cox, Dolph Lundgren, Frank Langella, He-Man, Masters of the Universe