Thursday, September 23, 2010

Masters of the Universe

Masters of the Universe was released in the summer of 1987.  Directed by Gary Goddard, who is known for producing theme park attractions, this film tried to bring the animated series to life without much success.  The film had a guaranteed audience because of the success of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.  The characters and universe are rich but, unfortunately, the budget wasn't.  Masters of the Universe fails to live up to its potential.
The casting is almost the best part of the film.  This is Courtney Cox's first film and also Robert Duncan McNeill's first big credit.  Dolph Lundgren makes a good He-Man.  He really looks the part.  Unfortunately, he doesn't have much to do in the film which is really odd since He-Man really built the franchise.
Frank Langella is a fantastic actor and his performance of Skeletor brought a sense of gravity to the film.
I think my favourite cast member has to be Meg Foster who played Evil-Lyn.  Foster has had a terrific career and she was born to play this role.  Those eyes are just incredible.
Production designer, William Stout and his team did a really good job creating the world of Eternia on a budget.  Kudos also to Michael Westmore's make-up and Julie Weiss' costumes.  It is never easy to translate animation or comic art to live action but I think they managed pretty well.
He-Man's power sword should have been a key prop in the film but, as mentioned above, He-Man doesn't figure that prominently in the story and neither does his sword.  The prop reflects that.  It's fairly lackluster.
I think the original concept behind He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is brilliant and this film could have been but it suffered from too small a budget ($17 million).  The budget forced most of the story to take place on present-day Earth rather than on Eternia.  The film was a little too dark for most kids and a little too cheesy for most adults.  Nevertheless, it has some endearing qualities and can still be fun to watch.  The DVD is nothing special.  It features only a commentary with Gary Goddard.  I would love to see some features on the special effects and design but I doubt it'll happen any time soon.

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