Friday, November 8, 2013

Masters of The Universe

What happens when a cartoon is popular? It gets a film adaptation! What happens when that film is made by Canon films? You get a film adaptation that is mid to low budget and is loosely tied to its source material. Such is the case with Masters of The Universe, a 1987 film starring Dolph Lundgren and Frank Langella. It took the popular He-Man and The Masters of The Universe property and took it to Hollywood. Was the resulting film an action filled adventure film? Yes, but was it a good or bad movie?

The film stars Dolph Lundgren as He-Man, the defender of Eternia and arch-nemesis of Skeletor. Skeletor has trapped the sorceress of Grayskull and wants to gain all of her power when the great eye of the galaxy opens. Our heroes He-Man, Man at Arms and Teela are forced to escape to earth and regroup for another assault only to have lost their way home, the cosmic key. Can they find the key before Skeletor's forces do and get back to Eternia in time to stop him?

The plot is pretty standard fare for a fantasy film, but it was still entertaining. Even though I'm not  really familiar with the story of the cartoon, I didn't find it was necessary to know the full story to enjoy the movie for what it is. The overall story was good, but the weak point of the movie is the time spent on Earth. It felt like the epic world and story on Eternia was the bookend to the mediocre one on earth wedged in the middle. Had some of the original plot points, such as He-Man's mother being from Earth been included, it might have made the Earth Segments more interesting.

The acting is where most of the criticism on this film lands. I think Dolph Lundgren was good in the role as He-Man, especially for it being early on in his career, though no doubt he was cast due to him looking the part. Frank Langella as Skeletor is without a doubt the highlight of the movie, he nailed being an over the top villain and his performance was perfect. James Tolkan was great as Detective Lubic and had outstanding reactions to what was happening and great delivery of one liners. The supporting cast was good as well, my only complaint was with Courtney Cox who didn't seem to be playing a character so much as playing herself.

The music of the movie was fantastic, and really helped boost up the epic feeling of the film. Bill Conti's main theme for the movie was an amazing mix of everything I love about John Williams' work with both Star Wars and Superman and mixes together and makes for a great musical score. It has a nice mix of both heroic segments and also more dramatic sounds and just pushes the epic feeling of the movie to 10.

While popular opinion is that this movie was horrible, I really have to disagree. Taking into consideration the time the movie was made in and its technological and budget restrictions, I think it was a decent movie. It may not have been the "Star Wars of the 80's" that Canon proclaimed it to be, but they were known for over hyping things. What it is though is a great action adventure movie that is fun to watch and not take too seriously.

Verdict: Nostalgic cheese at its finest and great throwback to 80's fantasy films.


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