- Movie Rating -

Masters of the Universe (1987)

| August 7, 1987

The way that I understand it, this Masters of the Universe movie is a by-product of a toy line that started out as a more kid-friendly version of Conan the Barbarian,  I can see that.  The toys were colorful, if a bit fetishistic and eventually they spawned an immensely popular syndicated television show that, thanks to the low-budget handlings of Lou Scheimer’s Filmation studio – garnered a wonderfully daffy camp value.

I bring all this up because it is curious that the toys came first, then the show, then the movie – these things usually happened the other way around.  Yet, in the case of Masters of the Universe, it is best that the toys and the show came first because the movie is terrible.  It’s crummy-looking.  The characters are dull.  And the plot is right off the shelf.

Plus, the movie cheats.  In an effort to save money (it came from Cannon, the same studio that slashed the budget on the third Superman sequel and turned it into a pile of garbage) the movie doesn’t even take place in the mystical land of Eternia.  No, the plot whips the characters around and brings them into our world.  Our dull, uninteresting, unexciting world of suburbs and shopping malls.  So much for fantasy.

The movie stars Dolph Lundren as He-Man – this is his follow-up to Rocky IV – as a blonde with muscles who does battle with the evil Skeletor (Frank Langella under a ton of make-up) over some kind of mystical key that opens the doors to time and space.  More or less, the same plot that is available in any action video game.

I’m angry with this film.  The TV show promises a colorful world full of colorful characters and a camp aesthetic, but what happened here?  Why does the movie feel like it comes right off the shelf?  Why are the characters so dull?  Why does the movie have to take place in the real world?  This is a massive disappoinment.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1987) View IMDB Filed in: Action, Kids