Saturday, 31 October 2009

Masters Of The Universe (1987)

Masters Of The Universe (or MOTU) is one of the first films I can ever remember watching from my childhood, along with the likes of Big, The Goonies and Beetlejuice (I can't for the life of me, pinpoint which was the first film I ever saw). As everyone knows it's based on the popular cartoon and comic book strips of He-Man, which in turn was made as a marketable version of Conan for little kids. Now, the live action movie is far removed from the cartoon, which was to many fans (the aforementioned little kids) chagrin. There are characters added and characters taken out, but in my opinion that did not hurt the film, as all we were bothered about was He-Man! I caught the cartoon series late, but I had all the toys and play sets (I still have some of them!) and looking back at it recently, I have to say it doesn't hold up well. Watching MOTU, the cartoon became somewhat of a nostalgia killer for me, but nevertheless I'm still fond of it. I'm also one of few people I know, who actually prefers the film version. Even with all of it's problems I find it to be far superior and far more enjoyable than the saturday morning 'toon.

I will always remember the first time I watched this film and I absolutely loved it to bits! Skeletor (Frank Langella) has taken over Eternia and is trying to harness the power of a "magic key" that will aid him in his plot to dominate all the galaxies. However, He-Man (Dolf Lundgren) is there to get in his way. Anyway, a small battle takes place and He-Man and co meet the extremely irritating Gwildor (Billy Barty), who has one of these "magic keys" leading to the heroes escaping to Earth. Once on the unfamiliar planet and having lost the key, He-Man comes to the rescue of Julie (Courtney Cox) who has found said key. Skeletor sends his minions to find the key and to kill He-man, ultimately leading to a big showdown and dramatic finale.

I always used to love the sound that cosmic key made, that screwed up progression of synthy notes was really wonderful to me as a child. I haven't noticed any small touch or whimsical moment in any modern children's flicks that matches it.
I loved Skeletor and his horde of mutants the most though, Frank Langella makes this movie! He is a great actor and I have seen him in many varied roles over the years, but this is his best by far. He is so into character and backed by great make-up and costume, that he really makes Skeletor menacing. The Skeletor from the cartoon has always seemed camp to me with a bad voice-over but Langella is rasping and larger than life. Dolf Lundgren is wooden. I don't expect He-Man (if he were real) to be a good, diverse actor or linguistical genius anyway.

Originally this film was supposed to be entirely based on Eternia, but the film went vastly over budget and they had to keep shutting down production all the time for various reason. They then ran out of money completely. There was also supposed to be a sequel, thus explaining the moment at the very, very end of the film (Skeletors head popping up exclaiming - "I'll be back!"). That was canned, due to the cost and admitted failure of this feature. I'm led to believe the intended sequel's script was morphed into "Cyborg", one of Jean Claude Van Damme's worst films.

I know people who did and didn't grow up with this, they tend to hate it, but I look on it with cheesy fondness. It's a film of it's time, full of fantasy and warmth standing well beyond a vast percentage of the trash churned out today. It's no "master"piece (pun intended), but it's very enjoyable and I wouldn't hesitate to sit a child of mine (if ever I have one!?) before the TV, to bask in the 80s glory of MOTU.

Things I Learned From This Movie:

-The planet of Eternia is in fact, one room
-You can't get shot whilst barechested, ever
-Humanoid aliens can't grasp the concept of fried chicken
-Finding weird instruments in open graves is perfectly normal
-Lizards are afraid of skeletons
-80s synthersizers can open intergalatic portals
-Harnessing the power of the universe will cover you in gold
-Dolf Lundgren can bring your parents back from the dead

Best Quote: "Tell me about the loneliness of good, He-Man. Is it equal to the loneliness of evil?"


1 comment:

  1. Groovy review. Cool to see you getting into the blogspot thing, man. I put a link to Flash Metal Circus in my Bearded Weirdo links page. I can already tell this is gonna be one of my favorite blogs to read on a regular basis. Y'know, I actually went through my review archive, and so far almost half of all my reviews are of movies from the 80's. The rest is a patchwork combo of new stuff, a little bit of 90's stuff, and 50's stuff. 80'S DOMINATE!!!