Retroplex Cinema: Masters Of The Universe (1987)

Welcome to a new edition of Retroplex Cinema.  Today we look at a film that is loved by some for it's childhood memories and hated by others.  Recent news of a reboot has interest in the film revived as well as an upcoming Blu-Ray release of the picture.  The film celebrates it's 25th Anniversary this year and that film is Masters Of The Universe.
Masters Of The Universe (1987) is of course based on the very popular cartoon and toy line from the same era and titled the same thing.  Masters Of The Universe was the adventures of the great hero He-Man and his battle in the world of Eternia against the evil Skeletor and his minions.,  The toys and cartoon were mega popular so of course, Hollywood wanted to cash in and make a live action version.The movie stars Dolph Lundgren as He-Man and Frank Langella as Skeletor. Other actors include Jon Cypher as Man-At-Arms, Chelsea Field as Teela, Billy Barty as Gwildor, and Courtney Cox before she was a known star.  The film was released in the United States on August 7, 1987 after the popularity of the toy line and cartoon had peaked.
     The film is heavily influenced by Star Wars and was even called "the Star Wars Of The 80's" by one critic.  The movie is anything but Star Wars, but it's influences are well seen throughout.  The movie had a relatively small budget for such a big undertaking of only $22 Million because as director Gary Goddard said himself said, the studio kinda balked at spending too much on a comic book movie back then.  Who knew that twenty years later comic book movies would rule Hollywood.
     Plot:  On the Planet Eternia, at the center of the Universe, the forces of Skeletor have managed to seize control of Castle Grayskull and capture the Sorceress of Grayskull. Skeletor is planning to exploit Grayskull's hidden powers when the "Great Eye of the Galaxy", a portal in the castle's throne room, opens and Eternia's moon is correctly aligned with it.
     The remaining Eternian forces are scattered and outnumbered. One of Skeletor's patrols is attacked by Eternia's greatest warrior and Skeletor's archenemy, He-Man, veteran soldier Man-At-Arms and his daughter Teela. He-Man rescues a Thenorian inventor/locksmith named Gwildor, who reveals to his rescuers his newest invention: a "Cosmic Key" that can open a portal to any location in time and space. Skeletor stole the Key from him and used it to get into Castle Grayskull, but Gwildor still possesses the prototype. When his home is attacked by Skeletor's forces, Gwildor leads He-Man and his friends into a secret passageway leading directly to Grayskull.
     At Grayskull, the group is ambushed by Skeletor and his troops. In desperation, Gwildor uses his Key to open a random gateway through which the group escapes to Earth, but the Key is lost upon their arrival and the Eternians split up to find it. Meanwhile, in the nearby town of Whittier, California, two teenagers, Julie Winston and Kevin Corrigan, discover the Key and start pressing its buttons. This allows Skeletor's second-in-command, Evil-Lyn, to track the Key to Earth, and she sends a team of mercenaries to recover it. They consist of Saurod, Blade, and Beastman, with Karg appointed as their leader.
     Kevin, an aspiring musician, mistakes the object for a Japanese synthesizer and takes it to a friend at a local music store to get a second opinion, leaving Julie in their high school gym. Skeletor's mercenaries arrive and pursue Julie until He-Man rescues her. The mercenaries return to Grayskull where, incensed by their failure, Skeletor kills Saurod and sends the others back to Earth with a larger force under the command of Evil-Lyn.
     Kevin returns to find the high school on fire and Julie missing. The detective on scene, Lubic , takes Kevin to Julie's house to look for her. Over the phone, Julie reveals to Kevin the importance of the Cosmic Key, but Lubic confiscates it, suspecting it to be stolen. Immediately afterwards, Evil-Lyn captures and interrogates Kevin, then leaves to acquire the Key from Lubic. Julie and the Eternians reunite with Kevin, and they proceed to the music store where Lubic has taken the Key for expert analysis. Skeletor's troops also arrive at the store and a battle ensues, during which Evil-Lyn, masquerading as Julie's dead mother, persuades her to hand over the Key.
     With the Key acquired, Skeletor triumphantly arrives on Earth. He-Man retrieves the Key from Evil-Lyn, but Skeletor surrounds his friends and critically injures Julie with his magic, destroying Gwildor's Key in the process. He-Man surrenders to save his friends and returns to Grayskull as Skeletor's prisoner. The remaining Eternians combine their technology to create a new Key, using a modern-day keyboard to play the special sequences of tones, which Kevin had memorized. Lubic blunders his way through the portal and is transported to Eternia with them.
     On Eternia, the Great Eye opens and Skeletor is transformed into an armored warrior god. He tries to force He-Man to kneel before him, but is interrupted by the arrival of He-Man's friends. He-Man is freed and reclaims his sword, absorbing the power of Grayskull once more. Now evenly matched, He-Man engages Skeletor in combat and breaks Skeletor's staff, causing him to lose his newfound powers. Skeletor draws his sword to continue the fight, but is sent plummeting into a deep pit.
The rescued Sorceress heals Julie, and a portal is opened to return the humans to Earth, except for Lubic who decides to stay on Eternia. Awaking the morning of her parents' death in a plane crash, Julie prevents them from taking their fateful flight. She then finds Kevin, who confirms their shared experiences were not just a dream and holds out a souvenir from Eternia: a small blue sphere containing a hologram of He-Man in front of Castle Grayskull.
     After the credits, Skeletor's head emerges from liquid at the bottom of the pit and proclaims, "I will be back!"
     Production Notes:  Masters Of The Universe took a lot of heat from fans for having too much of the  film take place on Earth.  Director Gary Goddard has said many times that it was due to budget restraints but still non the less for a $22 Million dollar picture, the film looks very good.  The sets of the film that do take place on Eternia look amazing, and the costume design for the film is outstanding.   The original draft of the film included more time spent on Eternia, Snake Mountain, Beastman had a speaking role, and even revealed that He-Man's mother was originally from Earth, thus linking the two planets.  The film was not well received by critics or fans for that matter only grossing about $17 Million at the box office.  Over the years however, the film has found a following and people find it to be a nice piece from the 80's that brings back childhood memories.  The film isn't perfect, but it's not all that terrible either.
     A sequel was put into pre-production at one point The low-budget ($4.5 million) project that was to be directed (back to back with their aborted "Spider-Man" movie) by Albert Pyun was abandoned when Cannon wouldn't pay for Mattel's fees and the production used the already-made costumes and sets for the low budget sci-fi movie Cyborg.
  Legacy:  The actual Masters Of The Universe film doesn't carry a whole lot of legacy with it, but He-Man still resonates today.  The toy line and cartoons were extremely popular and a rebooted cartoon in 2002 was well received and kept He-Man alive and well. Recent rumblings of a new live action film have interest in He-Man at a fever pitch again, and the original film hits Blu-Ray in October. Reports are that director Jon M. Chu is in negotiations to direct a new live action film with a script from Predators writers Alex Litvak and Mike Fitch.  Chu recently directed the G.I. Joe sequel which is in post 3D conversion production for release next March.  So a new Masters Of The Universe film could be on the horizons of Eternia but for now enjoy the 1987 film.  You can pre-order your Blu-Ray here and check out trailers, posters, and more the film below.

Pre-Order Masters Of The Universe on Blu-Ray today!!