Masters of the universe

Masters of the universe
Original title:Masters of the universe
Director:Gary Goddard
Running time:106 minutes
Release date:07 august 1987
On the planet Eternia, at the head of an army, Skeletor has seized the Castle of Shadows and dreams of conquering the entire universe. Musclor, a warrior whose strength is matched only by his courage, uses a cosmic key to travel to Earth with his daughter Teela and Gwildor, the master-at-arms. But on the way, they lose the precious object, which is found by Julie Winston and her boyfriend Kevin Corrigan. Waiting to find out how it works, they send a signal to Skeletor's henchmen, who come to retrieve the artifact. Originally a toy line and then a cartoon, Masters of the Universe also had a film adaptation that has gained a cult following over the years.

Mulder's Review

In the annals of 1980s cinema, Masters of the Universe stands out as a singular and endearing film, one that embraces its flaws and transforms them into a unique and nostalgic visual experience. Directed by Gary Goddard, the film is an adaptation of the beloved animated TV series and Mattel's iconic toy line featuring the muscular hero He-Man and his nemesis Skeletor.

The film opens on the war-torn planet Eternia, where the embodiment of good, He-Man (played by Dolph Lundgren), battles the sinister Skeletor (Frank Langella) for control of Castle Grayskull and the power it wields. The plot takes a turn when He-Man and his comrades, including Man-At-Arms (Jon Cypher) and Teela (Chelsea Field), use a "cosmic key", a portal-opening device, to escape Skeletor's clutches. However, a miscalculation lands them in 1980s America, introducing a fish-out-of-water scenario that adds unexpected layers to the narrative.

The scenario, admittedly, doesn't make much sense and deviates considerably from the source material. Nevertheless, the film makes up for its lack of coherence with a relentless pace of laser-gun action and a cast that fully embraces the work's campy character. Dolph Lundgren, with his chiseled physique and shaggy blond hair, embodies the very essence of He-Man, even if his performance sometimes leaves something to be desired. Frank Langella's Skeletor steals the show, bringing a Shakespearean gravitas to the role of the menacing villain.

What really elevates Masters of the Universe to cult status is its nostalgic visual appeal. The neon-colored images, reminiscent of the era's fascination with bright, bold aesthetics, transport viewers back to the flamboyant 1980s. The film's oversized synth score complements the action sequences, creating an audiovisual experience that encapsulates the spirit of the era.

Courteney Cox, in one of her first performances, brings a touch of realism to the role of Julie, a teenage Earth girl unwittingly drawn into He-Man's cosmic adventure. The eclectic mix of fantastical elements, from swords to laser guns, places the film somewhere between the space operas of Star Wars and the campy delights of Flash Gordon.

While Masters of the Universe lacks the depth and coherence of more critically acclaimed sci-fi adventures, it succeeds in being a kitschy entertainment that demands to be taken for what it is. Its appeal lies in the fusion of nostalgic visuals, eccentric characters and the performances of its villains. For those wishing to step back into an era of escapist fantasy, Masters of the Universe is a cosmic key that opens a portal to the charming, cheesy and endearing world of 1980s sci-fi cinema.

Masters of the Universe
Directed by Gary Goddard
Written by David Odell
Based on Masters of the Universe by Mattel
Produced by Yoram Globus, Menahem Golan
Starring Dolph Lundgren, Frank Langella, Courteney Cox, James Tolkan Christina Pickles, Meg Foster, Robert Duncan McNeill
Cinematography : Hanania Baer
Edited by Anne V. Coates
Music by Bill Conti
Production company : The Cannon Group, Inc.
Distributed by The Cannon Group, Inc (United States), Cannon France (France)
Release date : August 7, 1987 (United States), December 9 ,1987 (France)
Running time : 106 minutes

Reviewed on January 7, 2024 (Blu-ray)

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