A life-action feature film based on the popular cartoon kids show about a prince turned warrior named He-Man.
Release Year: 1987
Rating: 5.0/10 (14,200 voted)
Stars: Dolph Lundgren, Frank Langella, Meg Foster
The world of Eternia in the aftermath of Skeletor's war on Castle Grayskull, which he has won after seizing Grayskull and the surrounding city using a cosmic key developed by the Thenorian locksmith Gwildor. The Sorceress is now Skeletor's prisoner and he begins to drain her life-force as he waits for the moon of Eternia to align with the Great Eye of the Universe that will bestow god-like power upon him.
Robert Duncan McNeill
Sorceress of Castle Grayskull
Anthony De Longis
A Battle Fought In The Stars. Now… Comes To Earth.
Warner Bros [United States] |
Release Date: 7 August 1987
Filming Locations: Culver City, California, USA
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $4,883,168
(9 August 1987)
Did You Know?
Production designer William Stout intentionally wanted the interior of Castle Greyskull to combine elements of both good and evil. Stout said of Castle Grayskull in an online interview, "This was the seat of power for the entire universe. I reasoned that power is neither good nor bad — it's what you make of it and how you use it. So, above floor level were what I called the Space Gods, giant bronze statues of those who had used the power based in that room for good. Below floor level was the dark side, demonic creatures that represented power used for bad or evil."
Throughout the movie, particularly in the beginning with one of the first fight scenes, He-Man appears to have a gash on his upper chest/shoulder area. It switches from right to left and back again several times.
[Skeletor has just been fired upon by Teela and Man-At-Arms but uses his magic to shield himself]
Not the way to treat your beloved ruler.
Awesome fantasy adventure
Just as some movies that should be great turn out to be awful, some movies
that should be awful turn out to be great – Masters of the Universe.
Unfortunately, for a film that's based on a cartoon that today's
20-somethings used to watch in the 1980's, none of the said 20-somethings
are going to admit to liking it now. Few will give it a chance and realize
the direction is good, the acting is good, the music is good, that it's
exciting, funny, scary, suitably epic and absolutely action-packed and
it looks fantastic. But Superhero Cinema does.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was a hugely successful mid-80's
cartoon based on a line of action figures. The success of each fed the
other, as well as a popular comicbook and loads of other merchandise.
Finally in 1987 came the big one: the motion picture.
What looks like suicide at first glance – converting a cartoon based on
action figures into a full-length feature – gets more appealing when you
look at thes ource material closer. The cartoon is a epic hybrid of
and sci-fi, with ancient castles and sorcerers mixing with laser guns and
cyborgs. It also has a very mythic feel, mixing Ancient Greece-era
and challenges with fairy tale locations.
There are also hordes of exotic characters – warriors, mutants, monsters,
magicians of every description, so the film makers could pick the coolest
ones to bring to the screen. The ones they've chosen are He-Man and his
enemy Skeletor (obviously), amazon-type female warrior Teela and her dad
Man-At -Arms, the Sorceress of Grayskull, Skeletor's second in command
Lyn (which is always pronounced 'Evil-In'), and Beastman. Added to these
four characters that were created for the film – Gwildor, a dwarf-like
inventor, Karg, a cross between Captain Hook and a bat, snake-like Sauron,
and Blade, a sword and knife-obsessed slaphead. So that's eleven fantasy
characters running about, which is a pretty good total.
Masters of the Universe succeeds because it takes the cartoon and adapts
it's superficial qualities, but it's essence into a movie, turning it into
mature sci-fi/fantasy adventure. This is where so many comic and cartoon
based movies fail. They don't adapt their source material properly to make
successful feature film. You need to make the movie a natural progression
from what it's based on, altering the look enough so it looks acceptable
real action, altering the characters into real people, choosing actors who
can give real performances. It's not simply dressing superstars up as
characters from a comic or cartoon, it's re-imagining the ideas as a
MotU does this perfectly. You can fault it as a film itself, of course,
you can't fault it as an adaption.
The production design is superb, with some superbly realized sets and
costumes. Everything has been adapted to look more realistic on the big
screen. The cast give uniformly decent performances. Nobody lets the side
down – these are all 3D characters, not cartoons. Dolph Lungren proves
one of the European bodybuilder brigade who can act. Frank Langella gives
outstanding performance as Skeletor, his powerful presence almost bursting
out of the TV and into your living room. Langella gives a shining example
all actors portraying comicbook and cartoon characters in live action.
is a pervading sense of dread whenever he appears, especially during
Grayskull sequences, and the script gives him some awesome lines which he
delivers with pure evil dripping from his voice.
The monsters are pretty bloody scary, especially for a family film,
especially the Beastman (who's had a 'the' added to his name). The
where they invade a school gym and chase Julie around it is excellent, far
more exciting and scary than similar chases in many horror films
some of those Courtney Cox has been in). It's also, like the rest of the
film, surprisingly violent, as the bad guys attack Julie with swords,
laser guns and high velocity darts. That she manages to escape is not
unbelievable at all, because of the way the chase is staged – it's just a
relief she gets out of there, the goal of any such chase scene. The sheer
ammount of bad guys that the small band of heroes has to face adds greatly
to the drama.
Setting half of the movie on Earth has it's advantages and disadvantages.
does give the film a human component, and two ordinary teenagers to be
pulled into the adventure with. It also makes the monsters scarier –
than being in a distant galaxy, they are in the neighbourhood, viciously
attacking people and destroying whatever they come across. On the other
hand, it would have been cool to see some more of the war torn Eternia and
the planet's weird inhabitants and locations, but MotU had a relatively
small budget, so that sort of stuff was off limit anyway. A little too
time is spent on the almost soap-opera angle of Julie and Kevin, but it
helps flesh out their characters to make them believable.
MotU is also packed with action, and we do mean packed. There is an
of violence every 15 minutes or so, usually even less, and there is
and imagination among the content, unlike many action films, which consist
of repetetive shoot outs and nothing more. It could possibly be said that
it's quantity over quality, as some of it, particularly the shoot-outs,
badly filmed, and none of the action ever reaches adrenalin pumping.
However, it's good enough, in-yer-face and quite exciting to watch, with
He-Man taking out hordes of bad guys with his sword, laser beams
mass destruction and some good old rough and tumble. And all the action
grows organically from the story – none of it seems put in simply because
the movie needed an action scene at a certain point.
One of MotU's greatet assets is it's atmosphere. The sense of an
intergalactic civil war is tangible, as is the sheer menace of the
the desperation of the good guys, the growing sense of doom as Skeletor
captures the Cosmic Key. There is a cower-behind-the-sofa scariness
to that of TV's Doctor Who.
If Masters of the Universe was re-released at cinemas this summer, people
would realize how good it is compared to the blockbuster summer fare we
these days. And all for $17m, which was hardly anything, even in 1987.