Friday, November 11, 2016

Now That Everybody Loves Movies Based on Toys, Let's Watch Masters of the Universe

Based on the 80’s action figures and cartoon series, Masters of the Universe (1987) is an 80’s big budget mash-up of Conan the Barbarian (1982) and Flash Gordon (1980) with a dash of Clash of the Titans (1981).  Starring Dolph Lundgren as He-Man, this was the movie that was supposed to catapult him to stardom after his cameo in A View to a Kill (1985) and perfect casting as Ivan Drago in Rocky IV (1985). 
Masters of the Universe moves quickly from the civil war on Eternia, He-Man’s home planet when the “cosmic key” opens the doorway to our dimension, which just happens to be 1980’s New Jersey.  He-Man then gets to meet Courtney Cox in her first movie as Julie Winston, a waitress in a western-themed burger joint (kinda like Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in 1984), and save her from Skeletor’s finest warriors, Beast Man, Saurod, Karg and Blade.
Frank Langella is unrecognizable as Skeletor (and received second billing to newcomer Dolph Lundgren, that must have hurt), while Meg Foster from They Live  (1988) and more recently Rob Zombie’s The Lords of Salem  (2012) and 31 (2016) plays Evil-Lyn, Skeletor’s second in command.  Also look out for Billy Barty as Gwildor the wizard/mad scientist dwarf, the go-to Hollywood little person who appeared in The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Legend (1985), Willow (1988), and an IMDb page of nearly 200 credits that goes back to 1922 and Robert Duncan McNeill, Ensign Tom Paris from Star Trek Voyager as Julie’s boyfriend Kevin.
Masters of the Universe, despite having a certain nostalgic appeal, has a high level of analog production values, especially where it concerns makeup, costume and interior design.  They actually built all those elaborate sets on Eternia, which created a sense of reality that is missing in modern movies, despite the unapologetic scenery chewing.  It’s also hard to move in those costumes, which made for some pretty awkward fight scenes.
Dolph Lundgren is not the greatest actor but that shouldn’t have held him back; he followed the same formula as Arnold but wasn’t able to achieve a similar level of 80’s fame.  There’s no reason this movie shouldn’t have worked, it even had a soundtrack by Bill Conti.  But the summer of 1987 saw the release of Lethal Weapon, Predator, Robocop, and The Lost Boys, there were just too many iconic 80’s movies at the time, and ironically, Masters of the Universe was dismissed as a movie based on toys and a shameless cash grab. 

my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).