Masters of the Universe

Title: Masters of the Universe
Rating: 4.5/5
Genre: Action, Adventure
Starring: Dolph Lundgren, Courtney Cox
Director: Gary Goddard

“I wonder why they put the meat on these little white sticks?”
“Those are rib bones.”

[Insert lolwut face]

Pre-Scream yet post-Star Wars comes a film that by all reasonable sense should be something of an atrocity. Clearly taking a lot of influence from Star Wars in particular, bordering plagiarism in fact, which I largely let slide as for all the laser guns, deflecting blasts with swords and running around trying to hunt a guy who looks like a Skeleton (the aptly named Skeletor), all of this featured prominently in the early 80s cartoon and book series on which the film is based. If anything would be guilty here the original series should burden the blame, and despite the obvious appearance of a late 80s budget pile of crap; nothing more than a cash-in on a popular series, the simple fact is that against all odds, this is a classic in the same way that Star Wars is remembered.

It was only a year previous that “Star Trek” hit upon a fantastic idea for a film that utilises a minimal budget, and it wasn't long before Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (probably the greatest Star Trek film to date) was released, and here the idea is shamelessly stolen. Following the successful invasion of castle Grayskull, He-Man and his groupies (Teela and Man-At-Arms) track down the keymaker with his invention that allows for teleportation and make their way for the heart of the castle to defeat the evil Skeletor. Falling into his trap, they teleport out to a random location and land on Earth, losing the key in the process. Hunting for the key, they find themselves the prey of Skeletor's mercenaries as they struggle to find a way back to Eternia and have another crack at retaking the Castle.

Now I'll readily admit there may be bias in my opinion; I still harbour fond memories of being read the children's books from back before I was allowed to stay up with milk bottle in hand, gurgling to Terminator flicks. After all you're probably reading this and thinking, Lundgren? Really? The poor man's Schwarzenegger? But this Swedish pile of muscles with a face attached has a distinct advantage: he can act. I mean not well, that would be asking a little too much of him but well enough that he can carry the story. You aren't distracted by the accent, it isn't filled with cheesy over the top expressions and he does the job better than the other well known muscular heroes would. As does the young Cox in fact, but if you thought the original Star Wars was good for the acting, well I got news for you.

If you placed the original cast of Star Wars into another film, the result would probably be awful. What makes Star Wars memorable is the story, the direction of the characters and all the excitement created as a result of the manner things unfolded, and here is no different. Within thirty minutes we get what looks like the final confrontation only to have it go tits up and have our heroes run for their lives through a vortex which happens to land them a short walk from a fast food joint on Earth. Hunted by an array of mercenaries – A beast between Chewie and well...“Beast” from the X-Men, a man with a blade fetish, a reptilian creature and a menacingly masked fourth – under the command of the evil Skeletor, the merc's are soon led by his second in command. Imagine Darth Vader but with tits and a pretty face.

Throw in a decent dollop of Star Wars, and stir in with some “Back to the Future,” a sprinkling of “Bill and Ted” here and some “Star Trek” there, toss in one of Jim Henson's creations that got lost in the wrong studio as a surprise and the result is here. Nothing's terribly original, but if you're going to take some influences you might as well take it from the best. The action never lets up from the very start, the characters are plentiful enough to remain interesting, the love interest never really gets the time of day (to ruin everything) and the Earth tie in results in some great comical scenes. Masters of the Universe is a B-Movie in reverse, the usual hope of being so bad it's good need not apply as this shows 80's action at its finest.


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