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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 ... 6 7 [8] 9
Re: Masters of the Universe
Reply #57. Posted on November 18, 2008, 10:38:14 PM by Master
This movie is great, I mean the coming to earth concept is now over used but when I was kid and saw this I LOVED IT!! I was a fan ofthe toys and cartoon sjow since 84 so by 87 I wasstill excited for the film and enjoyed it^_^

Nerds and geeks with no lives are hard on the film becuz they are jaded and lonley and feel worthless in their exsitance
Re: Masters of the Universe
Reply #58. Posted on June 06, 2009, 01:29:52 AM by FLU-BIRD
But without ORKO that funny little wizard and CRINGER the gt=reen tiger with the grange stripes who doubled as BATTLEi mean those two were comedy releif on the cartoon
Re: Masters of the Universe
Reply #59. Posted on August 25, 2009, 08:12:14 PM by Tector
I ate a bag of mushrooms with a friend and watched this movie and it blew my f**king mind! Seriously. Awesome movie!! Amazing effects! I just watched tomb raider, now that is a s**tty movie. Pathetic how movie effects in the 80s look a hell of a lot better than all this cgi crap.
Re: Masters of the Universe
Reply #60. Posted on March 29, 2011, 04:20:20 PM by ralphyralph
This is a really good bad movie and should deserve more green drippies.
Re: Masters of the Universe
Reply #61. Posted on April 16, 2011, 10:53:48 AM by Crom
Gary Goddard always blames everyone else for the film's various failings, or viewers for daring to point out such obvious failings, but the truth of the matter is that there is a very good reason why he hadn't directed a feature before this, and has never been offered another one since, or even any tv work directing, and that is because he was a very poor director who spent his budget very poorly, and didn't deliver what he promised on time or on budget. And that kind of reputation doesn't go away in Hollyweird.

He whines about a lack of money and a low budget, and yet he had a budget of 17 million dollars in 1987 to play with, and still couldn't deliver all that was required (and pre-costed) in the script, and in fact did so poorly at being able to deliver what was required and do it in time and on budget that Cannon had to inject another 7 million dollars into the budget just to get enough of the required footage so it could be edited into a releasable condition. Goddard complains that they cut his last three days of shooting, what he fails to mention is that those three days were part of the weeks of over-runs that his ineptitude as a director had caused the production. And even with a final budget of 22 million all up, his film still doesn't deliver a whole lot visually and certainly doesn't have any style or energy to it, particularly during the action sequences. Remember, this became, at the time, Cannon's biggest budgeted film ever. It's also partly responsible for the company's later collapse.

By comparison James Cameron had just delivered Aliens shortly before on a budget of only 18 million dollars, after having made Terminator for around 6.5 million. Oliver Stone had made Platoon for only 6.5 million, David Cronenberg delivered The Fly for 15 million, Russell Mulcahy delivered Highlander for 16 million, Star Trek IV had only slightly more than Masters at 24 million, Top Gun was made for around 15 million, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors was only 5 million, and The Untouchables cost 20 million. None of these were simple or small films, and yet they survived on their budgets just fine. Thrived even.

Now take a look at Masters of the Universe. A film with no really expensive stars at the time, compared to the casting of other films of the time. Masters looks like a 5-10 million dollar film of the era, at best. And more often looks like something Albert Pyun would squeeze out for less than half that. It basically only had one big set, the inside of Grayskull, and only 5 not overly complex creature effects in Beast Man (a rather simple fursuit with a face appliance), Skeletor (with his skull mask appliance), Saurod (lizard head appliance and some body make up), Karg (another body suit and face appliance), and Gwildor (full 'hero' level face appliance, body suit, sculpted hand appliances, and mechanized ears) who was probably the most complicated. On top of that you had laser effects, that by that time even tv shows like V could replicate easily on a weekly basis, a couple of setpiece flying vehicles, which for the most part are just shells, and the hover board sequence, plus maybe a dozen different dedicated custom costumes, a couple of different mass produced guns, and some other custom weapons (swords, havok staff etc). That Goddard could barely deliver what surprisingly little that we got with 22 million dollars at his disposal in an era when that was a pretty damn large budget, well that is pretty telling in regards to his quality, or lack thereof, as a director. And that he still uses the "we didn't have enough money" excuse and fails to take any responsibility for any of the film's problems to this day is pretty pathetic frankly.

By the way, if you ever get the chance, ask Dolph Lundgren about Goddard. You'll get some pretty choice stories, believe me. And none to Goddard's favor either.

Now don't get me wrong, there's still some cheesy fun to be had with the film, if almost despite itself and all it's various problems, and what it did manage to deliver it did okay at, and I personally have a bit of a soft spot for the film, but even so, Goddard was the captain of this ship, and while his direction was merely mediocre and rather lifeless, his mismanagement of the film was borderline incompetent, and considering the budget that he had at the time he should have been able to deliver a lot more on screen that we ultimately got.
Re: Masters of the Universe
Reply #62. Posted on April 16, 2011, 01:44:07 PM by Psycho Circus
I'm sorry Crom, I'm not trying to argue with you but I do feel that you are being very hard on Gary Goddard whether he's a competent director or not. It's hard to transfer comics, cartoons or videogames to screen and try to please everyone all the time. Whether you have 17 million or 70 million to spend on a feature, sometimes it just doesn't come off and there are problems. I absolutely love this film, for all it's flaws it's been a big part of my childhood even though I know it could have been miles better. I accept the excuses Gary Goddard has given over the years, but I am also open to the reasons given by others involved with the film. It's 2011 now, not 1987 and Masters Of The Universe is what it is.
Re: Masters of the Universe
Reply #63. Posted on April 17, 2011, 03:26:37 PM by Crom
Hey, no need to be sorry, you are entitled to your opinion and you are entitled to disagree, that's cool. And I'd never try to convince you otherwise, just as I'd never tell someone they should like a film they don't, or shouldn't like a film that they do. Everyone is entitled to their own distinct tastes and opinions, and the right to share them, so as long as that is done non confrontationally (as it was here) then it's all good.   Cheers

I won't go on and on about it, lest it seem like I have some kind of crazy stalker grudge against Goddard, but over the years I have personally talked to a couple of the cast members, as well as three of four of the crew that worked this show, and few had anything kind to say about the man, his direction, or his management of this production. At best he comes across as someone who was in way over his head, and who lacked the necessary skills, talent, and experience to be able to make good on his promises and ambitions. At worst...well, I won't even say. He ended the show with few friends on that set though, and a reputation that didn't exactly lend itself to picking up more work behind the cameras from that point on, but lets leave it at that.

The film is what it is, and people are free to like it or not, as they see fit. I guess I've just heard and read too much about the making of this film to be ever able to truly see it unhindered from such knowledge, and minus the baggae of it being, in my eyes, such a missed, even botched, opportunity.

But again, to each their own.

Re: Masters of the Universe
Reply #64. Posted on December 23, 2011, 03:43:09 AM by ChunkeeOne
Oh this was just as bad & good as we all remember. I know someone who still has the castle of grey skull chilling in his garage. And I am very happy to still have a picture of myself, wearing a Dick Tracy shirt slurping jello through a straw at the table with... you guessed it, my He-Man toy and his green tiger sitting center view. Everytime I look at  kids' toys now and think, "What in the crap are they teaching kids in these shows today?!?" I think back to He-Man and the "Snorks", "Fraggle Rock" and the "Thundercats" and then shut my trap.
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