Craptastic Cinema

Celebrating The Best Of The Worst Movies

Masters Of The Universe

Year : 1987 Director : Gary Goddard Running Time : 106 MInutes Genre : ,
Movie review score

“By the power of Greyskull, I have the power!!!”

As a child growing up in the 1980’s, there were few cartoons that were cooler than  He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.  The Filmation cartoon was actually based on a toy line from Mattel of the same name.  It wasn’t the first time a show was based on a toy, but it was perhaps the most popular.  It was so popular that it had a spin off show based on another Mattel toy called She-Ra: Princess of Power.  The show sold more toys, and increased the toy sales, made more kids watch the show.  It was win-win, money money money.  Until 1987 that is.

Two years after the cartoon went off the air, Warner Bros. Pictures wanted to get their piece of the He-Man money pot, and released Masters of the Universe on the big screen.  This was a live action version of the cartoon with Dolph Lundgren, fresh off his “break out” role in Rocky IV, portraying He-Man.  Frank Langella also stars in this movie as Skeletor, He-Man’s arch nemesis.  This is also Courteney Cox‘s first majorly distributed film.  The film itself is actually cast very well.

The plot of the movie is that Skeletor, with his army of bad guys, capture the Castle Greyskull and The Sorceress (Christina Pickles).  His intent is to open the “Great Eye of the Galaxy”, to harvest the power that comes with it.  He-Man, Man-At-Arms (Jon Cypher), Teela (Chelsea Field), Gwidor (Billy Barty) and his “Cosmic Key” storm the castle in hopes to save The Sorceress.  The “Cosmic Key” is a portable gateway to different places, and universes, that is activated by playing musical notes on it.  Once inside the caste, He-Man and his friends reaize they are outnumbered and must escape.  Gwidor opens up the Cosmic Key, and it sends the four of them to beautiful Whittier, California!!!!

In the process of the transport, they are separated from the Cosmic Key.  It is found by two teenagers Julie (Cox) and Kevin (Robert Duncan McNeill) who begin pressing the keys on it.  Kevin, being a struggling musician, thinks he found an incredible new instrument.  In reality, they simply pinpointed to where He-Man and his friends escaped to.  Eventually, He-Man meets Julie, and they go to recover the Key from Kevin.  By this point, Skeletor’s troops, lead by Evil-Lyn (Meg Foster) have already made their way to Earth and began blowing stuff up in search for the Cosmic Key.  This introduces the police detective Lubic, played by James Tolkan of Back to the Future fame.

Eventually Skeletor comes to Earth, gets He-Man back to the planet Eternia, and it sets up the final battle.  Of course, He-Man’s friends are left of Earth, and it’s up to Kevin to find faith in himself as a musician to recreate the music he heard on the Cosmic Key that opened the portal.  This sends Julie, Kevin, Man-At-Arms, Teela, Gwidor, and Lubic off to Eternia just in time to witness the final battle between Skeletor and He-Man.

All in all, it was a good plot.  All in all, it was a good cast.  All in all, it was a horrible movie.  Oh my dear lord is this a bad movie.  While the plot was good, the dialog wasn’t.  While the cast was good, the acting wasn’t.  The pacing is slower than a snail race.  The action is dull.  Not a single character is interesting: and because of such, there is no draw to continue watching the movie.  The soundtrack is a joke too.  The theme is a corny ripoff of Superman’s theme.  The only thing this movie has going for it is the visuals.  The sets of Eternia are awesome looking.  The costumes are amazing too.  The costumes and sets are so good, that they were reused in a couple other movies after this.  The most popular would be Cyborg, with Jean-Claude Van Damme.

This was one of the of the earliest memories I have of being bored watching a movie as a kid.  I could see the looks in my parents’ faces too of “this is the last time we let Matt pick the movie” looking over in the theater.  Of course it wasn’t the last time, but I can see why they felt that way.  After watching the movie for this induction, it will be a very long time till I watch it again.

So on the Craptastic Scale, where does Masters of the Universe rank?  I had a hard time with this one.  Originally, I wanted to give it a 2 out of 5 because  of the costumes, and James Tolkan’s performance.  Dolph Lundgren’s mullet also factored into that score.  Asking fellow reviewers for their input painted a very different picture.  James Tolkan plays the exact same role as he does in Back To The Future, just a cop and not a High School Principle this time.  He is a Sheriff in Back to the Future III though.  Also, costumes do not make a good movie.  Dolph’s mullet is still kick ass.  Taking in their opinions, and watching the movie as closely as I can, this movie will score a 1 out of 5.  It’s best to avoid this movie, but if you wanted to see it go right ahead.  Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Masters of the Universe will have you begging for almost two hours of your life back.

Oh, and just in case you really like this movie, the movie is being remastered and released on Blu-Ray on October, 2, 2012, for it’s 25th anniversary.  The DVD is just fine though for a quick viewing.  Though, the mullet must be breath taking in HD.

-Matt Camarco

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