Masters of the Universe is a silly movie that seems to be better regarded today than it was back in 1987. The visual effects at times is lame, the acting fairly substandard save for Frank Langella and the story is fairly thin, though given the source material (a toy line and cartoon series), one has to give credit to the writer for doing his best. Having said all that, there’s little doubt this is at least a fun flick to watch every couple of years. It’s a cheesy picture that doesn’t take itself overly seriously.
Genre(s): Fantasy, Action, Science Fiction
Warner Bros. | PG – 105 min. – $19.98 | October 2, 2012
Directed by: Gary Goddard
Writer(s): David Odell (written by)
Cast: Dolph Lundgren, Frank Langella, Courtney Cox, James Tolkan, Christina Pickles, Meg Foster
Theatrical Release Date: August 7, 1987
Features: Commentary, Theatrical Trailer
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 2.0)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Disc Size: 18.3 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 3.0/5
Plot: Planet Eternia and the Castle of Greyskull are under threat from the evil Skeletor (FRANK LANGELLA), who wants to take over the planet. A group of freedom fighters led by the heroic He-Man (DOLPH LUNDGREN) are accidentally transported to Earth by a mysterious Cosmic Key, which holds the power to make Skeletor all-powerful. Once on Earth, He-Man joins alliances with two teenagers (including COURTNEY COX) as they attempt to find the key and return home.
Quick Hit Review: I actually remember my sister taking me to see Masters of the Universe back in 1987 at the age of 6. Of course, I don’t recall much about the movie itself but for a 6 year-old boy, it likely dazzled me, though at that age, it really didn’t take much, so it doesn’t say a whole lot.
25 years later, there’s no doubt this film is cheesy to the extreme with a sprinkling of pepperoni on top for good measure. Everything about this “epic” fantasy action-adventure probably would make today’s youth cringe from the acting from Dolph Lundgren, the half-assed story and the subpar visual effects even for that era; some elements were just as bad as Cannon’s Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. Good news is Masters is actually a better, more aptly made motion picture.
On the positive side going for the film: Director Gary Goddard, making his feature debut, though he hasn’t directed any other feature films since making his career in the writing realm. However, what Goddard accomplished bringing such a, well, unique entity into the live action territory, is nothing short of amazing. Yes, the costumes are silly and I’m not sure how the story exactly stacks up with 1983 television series, but he did an notable job, all things considered.
The other great aspect to this film is the hammy but oh so good performance from a make-up/prosthetic heavy, unrecognizable Frank Langella, who chews up the scenery like a raw piece of steak. It’s certainly laughable but oh so much fun to watch each and every scene he was in, it’s only a shame He-Man was the main character as I would’ve much preferred to have followed Skeletor’s evil journey.
I suspect much of the love for Masters of the Universe possibly comes from those in their 30s with nostalgic memories for the film. Is it a good film? Absolutely not. Is it a competently made movie with regards to the source material? I’d say there’s a good amount of debate to say it was. Personally, I’m not sure if I’ll revisit the film any time soon, but I understand the passion it has from so many fans.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1.25/5
The disc includes a Feature Commentary by Director Gary Goddard and the Theatrical Trailer (1:42). Goddard’s commentary is alright as far as solo tracks providing behind-the-scenes anecdotes and how some scenes were shot, although he does do a fair amount of screen narrating.
VIDEO – 3.75/5
Masters of the Universe makes its Blu-ray debut with an average 1080p high-definition transfer. Presented with a 1.78 widescreen transfer, the film doesn’t exactly pop off the screen, but given the age, the picture is nicely cleaned up. The detail levels are sufficient enough and probably better than its DVD counterpart but it also highlights the cheap visual effects which certainly don’t look the best. Even so, this video transfer should impress fans of the movie.
AUDIO – 3.5/5
Not surprising, but the disc merely has a DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo track and for the most part is adequate but hardly overly impressive. It’s a bit more dynamic compared with the DVD’s Dolby Digital 2.0, and with the various action scenes, it does come across better as does the dialogue levels.
OVERALL – 2.5/5
Overall, Masters of the Universe is a silly movie that seems to be better regarded today than it was back in 1987. The visual effects at times is lame, the acting fairly substandard save for Frank Langella and the story is fairly thin, though given the source material (a toy line and cartoon series), one has to give credit to the writer for doing his best. Having said all that, there’s little doubt this is at least a fun flick to watch every couple of years. It’s a cheesy picture that doesn’t take itself overly seriously.
The Blu-ray is OK with good or adequate video/audio transfers but drops the ball in the features; since it is a cheap catalogue release, it’s not surprising there wasn’t anything new included.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.