“The heroic warrior He-Man battles against the evil lord Skeletor and his armies of darkness for control of Castle Grayskull.”

Director: Gary Goddard
Writers: David Odell, Stephen Tolkin, Gary Goddard
Staring: Dolph Lundgren, Frank Langella, Meg Foster, Courtney Cox, Robert Duncan McNeill
Release Date: August 7, 1987
IMDB

What if I told you that one of Courtney Cox’s first movies was alongside Dolph Lundgren and followed a fantastical tale of a hero in an out-of-place world trying to save his own world from a villain played by Oscar nominee and renowned drama/theater actor Frank Langella? Is it more believable than Jennifer Anniston’s breakout role revolving around a murderous Leprechaun?

Masters Of The Universe (1987) is a perfect 1980s movie for molding 10-12 year old minds and generating toys to sell by cashier stations. It is wonderfully simple in its premise and zany enough with its atmosphere that it ensured itself as a VHS rental for numerous adventure seeking nerds in early middle school.

I can say this, because this was me. I was the kid wanting to go see every adventure movie when I was 10 years old, begging to go see a PG-13 movie but instead I would get movies similar to this, The Masters Of The Universe.

If you know He-Man, then you know the man premise of the story.

Skelator (Frank Langella) is wreaking havoc on the planet Eternia. His army of evil are overthrowing Castle Grayskull and they have the Sorceress (Christina Pickles) held captive in order to capture her immense power. He-Man (Dolph Lundgren), alongside Duncan (Jon Cypher) and Teela (Chelsea Field), are attempting to rescue the princess, but things are not going their way.

This is where Gwildor (Billy Barty) and his cosmic key comes into the picture. This high-powered piece of technology is coveted by all, for it has the power to do many things…like sent you to different worlds. He-Man, Duncan, Teela and Gwildor find themselves on Earth trying to escape the evil of Skelator, and upon arrival, they lose the cosmic key. The weird cylinder techno-sounding button-mashing device is discovered by a pair of young high school lovers, Julia Winston (Courtney Cox) and Kevin Corrigan (Robert Duncan McNeill).

As you could predict, the heroes of Eternia join forces, but not before Julie has a face-to-face meeting with Skelator’s assassins. She escapes the bad guys’ terrible aim and is rescued by He-Man. Dolph Lundgren does his grunting and flexing and sends the bad guy flying over tables and cardboard boxes with amazing ease.

It is in this action scene that I most think about the old TV shows like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Power Rangers. It is cosmically over-the-top. The buffoonery of Skelator, Beastman (Tony Carroll), Blade (Anthony De Longis) and all the bad guys is what draws every kid into the story. The Masters Of The Universe makes it evidently clear who is good and who is bad. There is no debating who is going to win and who is going to lose.

Listen here, Masters Of The Universe is not very good. In fact, I would consider it bad. Can you find enjoyment in the little things of a bad movie? Absolutely. Was I laughing at the outrageous line readings from Dolph, or the blatant Star Wars staging of Skelator as this movie’s Darth Vader? Is the aim of Skelator’s cronies more askew than a drunk college kid trying to get home at 2 AM on their first Thursday night out?

Gary Goddard directed one major motion picture in his career….and it is this one. After that there were four video shorts from 1996 till 2005. He has also helped write some shorts here and there, but again it is never not a TV movie or video short.

The Masters Of The Universe is a crazy movie. It is a time capsule to a different era of action/adventure family entertainment. You have to appreciate what the movie is and you have to acknowledge that it is not about it being a good movie. it is about you going through a journey of entertainment. It is like Mortal Kombat (1995), or a much (MUCH MUCH) lesser version of Highlander (1986).

It is crazy the scope of the action movies in the 1980s. You have all-time classics like Aliens (1986), Robocop (1987), Commando (1985) and Conan The Barbarian (1982).

You know what, Masters Of The Universe was Dolph Lundgren’s child attempt at Conan. No armor except for his pecks, abs and biceps, Lundgren wants to vanquish evil and look cool doing it.

The fact of the matter is that he does not pass the test. Experience He-Man in its original form, in the animated show that ran from 1983-1985. See Skelator the reusable GIF and great laugh in its original context. It is a better bit of cultural time travel; nothing to blow your socks off but enough to tickle interest if what could be if this story was ever retold in an adult way.

That is a good blog idea. Remake He-Man modern cast. Cast that one aside for later.

STANKO RATING: F+ (1.0/5 Stars)


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