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Rated PG
Copyright 1987 Cannon Films Inc.
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 'a long time ago'

The Characters:  

  • He-Man - Dolph Lundgren! Steroid defender of all that is good.
  • Duncan - Man at Arms, a grizzled veteran who is constantly hungry.
  • Teela - Duncan's daughter who, um... ...she's in every scene darn it.
  • Gwildor - Dwarf (They have some other upbeat name for his race.) inventor who created the Cosmic Key and likes talking to cows.
  • Julie - Courteney Cox! Depressed girl who can't get over her parents death and is moving to New Jersey as treatment. I think I'd rather go with electric shocks to my brain housing group.
  • Kevin - Julie's boyfriend and 80s musician. (Which means he plays a synthesizer.)
  • The Sorceress - For some reason this woman has a chandelier on her head, maybe it focuses solar energy? I dunno...
  • Lubic - James Tolkan! (The bald CO from "Top Gun.") Short cop with an attitude.
  • Beastman, Blade, Saurod, and Karg - Mercenaries in Skeletor's army, Karg is one of those "take charge and yell a lot" guys. Skeletor zaps Saurod into special effects heaven.
  • Evil Lyn - Meg Foster! (Cagney from Cagney and Lacey.) Probably the only competent evil person in the whole movie.
  • Skeletor - Embodiment of all that is evil, a powerful warlock who wishes to control the universe and destroy He-Man. Falls into a power well, where have I seen the main bad guy fall down a shaft into a reactor or something before?

Buy It!

The Plot: 

Who said action figures couldn't make for a great movie? Well, this film actually, but it is pretty darn amusing. The acting is really something else, half the time I'm wondering why He-Man sounds so damn happy. Considering that Castle Greyskull has fallen to a surprise attack by Skeletor and the Sorceress is his prisoner, this guy should be a little worried.

Soon he discovers how the forces of evil penetrated their defenses, a slightly insane Dwarf who created the ultimate key. This key, which sounds like it was manufactured by Yamaha, can open anything - even doorways between dimensions. Which is how the group ends up on Earth, though the device which brought them there lands some distance away.

This gives a neat reason to include a budding Courteney (not a joke about her breasts, well maybe) and her A-Ha idolizing boyfriend, because they find the Cosmic Key and immediately begin playing with it.

Skeletor's forces lock in on the signals and battles rage through the suburbs. Surprise, surprise the good guys lose the first encounter and He-Man is taken in chains back to Greyskull, everyone else is left alive on Earth to rot.

Of course Gwildor MacGuyvers up a makeshift Cosmic key and Kevin remembers the song to open the gateway to Eternia. He-Man sees his friends, breaks free, and recovers his sword for a final battle with a Skeletor (who has just absorbed the power of the universe, as if that would matter. He's the BAD guy, Dolph is the GOOD guy - he's screwed).

Okay, the film is very predictable, but combine the premise with a "motivating" fantasy score and I start cracking up. They should play this music in mental wards, though having two hundred people in gowns acting like Conan would probably be bad...

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • One blonde weight lifter with a sword can take out two dozen guys with laser rifles.
  • Good guys use blue lasers, evil guys use red lasers.
  • Anybody randomly jumping dimensions will end up on Earth.
  • Courteney Cox doesn't look good in a red cowboy hat.
  • Never annoy an undead warlock.
  • Microwaves are excellent jamming devices.
  • People from other dimensions speak perfect English, but use different units of measure.
  • A bargain synthesizer can open dimensional gateways.
  • Sword fights tend to blow the fuses.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 3 mins - VADER?! Sorry...false alarm.
  • 15 mins - If Quinn Mallory jumps out of that thing I'll die laughing.
  • 21 mins - Courteney Cox! Girl, where in the hell did you get that hat? (Snap, snap, snap.)
  • 38 mins - Why the heck does everyone think this thing is Japanese?
  • 65 mins - Now who didn't see this coming? Julie, you are dumb as a post.
  • 67 mins - No! Don't hide behind the 1968 Firebird!


  • Skeletor: "Your wondrous Sorceress will die!"
    Duncan: "You dare threaten her life?"
    Skeletor: "I dare anything! I am Skeletor!"

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note mastersu1.wav Narrator: "At the center of the Universe. At the border between the light and the dark stands Castle Greyskull."
Green Music Note mastersu2.wav Duncan: "He-Man! Thank the Sorceress you're alive!"
He-Man: "I've been looking for you."
Green Music Note mastersu3.wav Kevin: "Whoa-hoo! You know this is one of those new Japanese synthesizers."
Green Music Note mastersu4.wav He-Man and Skeletor square off on an intellectual level. (This really doesn't last long.)

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipmastersu1.mpg - 1.8m
If the movie had not included this scene it would not have been complete. I wanted to hear Dolph say it, you wanted to hear Dolph say it, so all together now, one, two, three:

"I have the POWER!"

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Comments:Write CommentPages: 1 ... 4 5 [6] 7 8 9
Masters of the Universe
Reply #41. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:03 PM by Felicity
I *liked* the fact that Lt. Parisí character was a hopelessly 1980s synthesizer-playing musician!  Meg Foster was *so* beautiful as makes me want to be her so badly.

This movie suffers the same problem as a lot of potentially enjoyable movies--it has a decent premise, and in the first fifteen minutes promises to be delightfully absurd, but then it sort of stalls and gets really boring.  Also, I just canít watch Billy Barty.  He always looks like heís in a lot of pain.
Masters of the Universe
Reply #42. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Peter
I logged on to this site by accident (I was looking for pictures of Meg Foster on Google). Boy, this sure brought back memories.

To be honest, MOTU is by far not the worst movie ever made, but certainly one of the cheesiest (or kitschick, I believe is the German word). There were three redeeming factors for me: one, Meg Foster; two Frank Langella; and three, the script did provide for some memorable moments.

The casting of Evil-Lyn was spot on - Meg Foster did an incredible job of acting (I really felt her presence radiating through the screen) and somehow, it really her interpretation really felt right. Those eyes of hers are incredible - anyone know their actual colour? Remember her scenes with Skeletor, or the henchmen or when she manages to convince Courtney Cox (Arquette) to bring her the synthesizer. From what I remember of the cartoon series, Evil-Lyn seemed to be a lacklustre character. Meg breathed life and dynamic into her. And Meg, if you ever read this, you are one of the few actresses that I still can recall clearly from the eighties - you were that memorable and I wish I had seen more of your work.

Frank Langella, I suspects, suffers from bad choices in his selection of movies and then being poorly directed in them. He does a competent job most of the time. However, as Skeletor, he (like Meg) took a two dimensional creation and gave it direction and vitality. You could feel the hubris, his need for control, the reason he lusted for power.

Now remember, I'm trying to recreate the movie in my mind from memory, but I remember the scene with Teela and Man at Arms when they were eating the spare ribs, or some of her more ironic comments. They were other moments which at this moment I can't recreate, but the interaction between the Eternia characters was not bad, the inclusion of the Earthlings seemed ackward and inappropriate most of the time. With a little bit of more effort, the scriptwriter could have had a lot of fun with the Eternians exploring their new environment, contrasting it with their native one and eventually coming to terms with it (ah well, hindsight is 20/20).

Those were the reasons I still fondly remember the movie.

Dolph Lundgren was only cast because he looked like He-Man. Does that mean he can't act? No, just look at his performance in Universal Soldier, I thought it was great. But honestly, at that time of MOTU his acting was wooden and he was out of his depth (he does eventually improve).

Courtney was cute, but she overacted. (Incidentally, I believe that Christina Pickles who plays the Sorceress is also her mother in Friends).

I liked what the actors did for their characters of Teela and Man At Arms and regret that the script treated them mostly as part of the landscape.

The Earthlings could have really been better scripted. Instead I just recall them as cardboard cutouts.

The special effects were in most part cheap and certainly looked it.

The sets were a little claustrophobic, but for all their limitations, weren't bad.

Loved Evil-Lyn's and Skeleotor's costumes - the others could have been improved.

To sum up, the whole movie looked extremely rushed to me. If they had more time, they could have arranged acting lessons for Dolph, really polished up the scripts and carefully planned just where they could spend that budget to squeeze the maximum bang for the buck out of it. How much did this film cost? Whatever it was, the money was certainly not used correctly (or is this a variation of Mel Brooks' The Producers). The actors ranged from neophytes who struggled to get their characters right to professionals who gave us some exceptional moments.

On the whole, Masters of the Universe will remain one of those fond hazy memories that give you a warm, fuzzy feeling  when you recollect it, but should not be examined too closely because its faults then tend to overshadow what you loved in that movie.

Thanks for listening.
Masters of the Universe
Reply #43. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Banana Jones
I can't believe this awful film had such a huge budget! It looks as if it was made for some 50 thousand dollars (and Canadian dollars at that)... Goddard must have spent all the budget on cocaine and whores. Or perhaps Lundgren pilfered it all and spent it on steroids?
Masters of the Universe
Reply #44. Posted on December 15, 2004, 10:45:48 AM by Cal Smith
All the people in this movie look like God Damn Pro Wrestlers with bad Gimmicks. But the that little midget guy was cool.
Masters of the Universe
Reply #45. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by kurash
I really liked this movie.  Now before you gone to say that "oh this guy liked it, im not gonna read this post" go ahead and hear me out.  Overall, if i have to be honest, this was a bad movie.  I like it because i grew up watching it as a kid, and since i was born in 89 I missed mostly all of the He-Man era.  But i still like this movie because as a kid you dont think about cheesy acting or bad plot, you just enjoy the fighting.  I liked Star Wars, and this (technology wise) was like Star Wars.  So i watched it everytime it was on TBS.  I watched it a few years ago and i still love it, but for different reasons.  Now, to the actual review.

The acting is abyssmal.  Everyone sheds an uneven performace and attempts to make a one liner to make the audience laugh.  Most of these one liners come off as retarded middle school calibur performances. The only exception is Frank Langella.  The only real reason i watch the movie is because of Franks performance.  I love villains more than the heroes (i guess i have some hidden anger), so i love watchin movies like Nightmare on Elm Street and others like that.  Skeletor in my opinion should be ranked as one of the best cartoon-movie villain performances of all time.  He brought depth to the character, and i feel hes the only real character who was able to be mirrored from the cartoon to the movie.  The visuals were pure garbage except for the inside of Castle Greyskull.  Not havin so many of the main characters didnt really bother me, since this is happening at the end of a war, and we can assume most of the heroes except for He-Man have been captured.  A little mention of there names would have been nice though.  The laser blasts are laughable.  1978 A New Hope looks more advanced special effects wise then MOTU did.  The music was pretty good.  The overall storyline wasnt to bad, but there was several things that could have been done to just make it much better.  I felt that the story was choppy, if they could have made it flow more, it would have been a much more enjoyable experience.  I personally think Frank Langellas performance outweighs all of this, and thats why i watch this movie about once a year.  E-mail if you disagree with any of my opinions.
Masters of the Universe
Reply #46. Posted on September 16, 2005, 11:35:24 PM by I HAD THE POWER
Great special effects, music, production design and makeup in an awful movie years before Revenge of the s**t-I mean Sith.
Masters of the Universe
Reply #47. Posted on June 07, 2005, 07:20:27 PM by giant claw
They left out orko the funny little guy from the cartoon i mean nothing livens up a movie like this then a funny little wizard guy
Masters of the Universe
Reply #48. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Mark
Skeletor"s black-gloss troopers are the best villain troopers I have ever seen in movie! Stunning!
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