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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 ... 5 6 [7] 8 9
Masters of the Universe
Reply #49. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by jmsynth
So this was Cannon's idea of a Blockbuster Franchise-starter. This movie was nearly incomprehensible to me as I never really watched the cartoons. Still the sets are impressive and it kind if works for the last 20 mins or so. Oh, and Skelletor is one of the best villains ever! Here's hoping they use him in the new movie.
Masters of the Universe
Reply #50. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Nathan
Ok, I admit, I REALLY LIKE this movie, overall.  Don't get me wrong, it had some major flaws.  As one other fan noted, Dolph wasn't the actor that he would become.  I didn't understand why (IF THEY MUST BE ON EARTH), no one called in the Army or the doggone National Guard or something.  You mean, no one in suburbia noticed the army of mutants marching down the street?!?  But this movie did have it's moments, and in my opinion the moment that makes this whole movie worthwhile is Skeletor's monologue right before the Eye of Enternity is opened.  THIS IS WITHOUT A DOUBT THE BEST "VILLAN POWER TRIP" ON FILM!!!!!  Frank Langella sells this scene so well, that if there were an Eternia and he was obsessed with power, THIS is what he would be like.  There are some movies on this website that I don't think should be here, but this one is ALMOST borderline decent.  Great acting does that for me.
Masters of the Universe
Reply #51. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by T.J.
To be fair to Gary Goddard, Cannon/Golan-Globus were on the verge of bankruptcy when the film was being made, and consequently siphoned off a large chunk of the budget. He mentions on the commentary track he had to put up his own paycheck in order to film the ending of the film.  Too bad the ending was so similar to Return of the Jedi's.  A better/cheaper (for the effects team) version could have had He-Man strike a final sword blow at Skeletor.  Skeletor could have used his Cosmic Key to deflect it, and as a result if the Key being split, he disappears into a burst of energy; similar to Saurod.  This would have left his fate open for a sequel.

Plus, getting back to Goddard, he redeemed himself in the same year with Mattel by co-creating the fantastic Captain Power television series and interactive toys:

I was one of the few in 1994 to catch what might have been his true version of what the MOTU film was meant to be in the form of the animated series, Skeleton Warriors:
Masters of the Universe
Reply #52. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Ash
"Nobody takes potshots at Lubic!"

An immortal line from James Tolkan, principal of George McFly's high school.

My friend and I are both in our thirties and we will still quote that line on occasion. If only he could've cursed Skeletor's henchmen as slackers while unleashing a hail of pump-action buckshot in their direction!

This movie would've been so much better without Dolph. Why not just star Tolkan as Lubic? That would work.
Re: Masters of the Universe
Reply #53. Posted on March 10, 2008, 03:48:08 PM by Giant Claw Jr
They didnt include ORKO the funny little guy from the cartoon series i mean theres nothing like a goofy little wizard guy as comedy relief
Re: Masters of the Universe
Reply #54. Posted on April 09, 2008, 07:30:03 PM by Kooshmeister
Probably because Orko was annoying and nobody liked him. Hehe, just kidding. My guess it would've cost too much to do the flying special effects, and, unlike the Air Centurions, Orko would've been a major character in almost every scene, and they would've wound up going way over-budget. So they opted for an Orko-esque character in Gwildor, who is just as annoying. BounceGiggle
Re: Masters of the Universe
Reply #55. Posted on April 20, 2008, 04:15:09 AM by J.D.
Gary Goddard is out of touch and thin skinned.  TeddyR MOTU is here on this site because people like it for for what it's not. That being an A movie. We like B movies here and love the reviews. Seems to me that Andrew's review was not done out of malice but in fun and humor. Pointing out all those cheesy scenes we have all watched, loved and felt the same about and joked about at some point in our lives. B movie fans have that strong of a bond over such things. No matter what their job is or type of person they would classify themselves as. Silly and immature to many. It's a harmless recreation many of us will never give up. Seems to me Gary should consider another line of work since he's so sensitive. I think there's an opening for a mime in Hollywood.
Re: Masters of the Universe
Reply #56. Posted on November 11, 2008, 09:38:11 AM by WilliamWeird1313
I just watched this again for the first time in years last night with two of my friends (one who'd never seen it before). I can't believe this flick was as much a part of my childhood as it was. The one thing I can't stop thinking about is how obviously the filmmakers desperately wanted this to be "the next Star Wars" or something. Epic fail!
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