Masters of the Universe (1987)

masters of the universe poster 1987 movie
4.0 Overall Score
Story: 2/10
Acting: 4/10
Visuals: 6/10

He-Man comes to the big screen

Favorite characters never really translate in the film,

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Masters of the Universe

Studio:  Golan-Globus Productions/Pressman Films/Cannon Films

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  August 7, 1987

MPAA Rating:  PG

masters of the universe he-man teela man-at-arms gwildor dolph lundgren chelsea field jon cypher billy barty

Oh Orko…I mean…Gwildor…you ruin everything

He-Man (Dolph Lundgren), Man-At-Arms (Jon Cypher), Teela (Chelsea Field), and a Thenorian named Gwildor (Billy Barty) make a raid of Castle Grayskull in the hopes of usurping Skeletor (Frank Langella) who has taken the Sorceress (Christina Pickles) prisoner.  Forced to flee using Gwildor’s Cosmic Key, He-Man and his allies end up on Earth in a race against time to return to Eternia.  Finding help from an Earthling named Julie Winston (Courteney Cox) and her musician boyfriend Kevin Corrigan (Robert Duncan McNeill), He-Man and his allies are faced with an invasion force from Eternia and must stop Skeleton from conquering Earth as well.

masters of the universe courteney cox robert duncan mcneill cosmic key

Wait until I dump you and your band for new “Friends”

Directed by Gary Goddard, Masters of the Universe is a science-fiction action-adventure.  The film was based on the popular toy line that premiered in 1982.  The movie was met with mostly negative reviews and fared poorly at the box office.  It received a Razzie nomination for Worst Supporting Actor (Billy Barty).

I was a Masters of the Universe junkie growing up.  I had all the toys.  I read and re-read the mini-comics.  I watched the Filmation TV show (plus She-Ra:  Princess of Power).  I was totally pumped for a Masters of the Universe movie…about 4 years before this movie was released.  By the time Masters of the Universe movie was released in 1987, most kids had moved on…but even with the faded interest I still went to the movie with excitement.

masters of the universe evil-lyn beastman karg meg foster

Beastman, Evil-Lyn…and that guy

The story largely deviated from both the cartoon and the toys (though it did take some aspects from the earlier mini-comics).  The core characters of He-Man, Teela, Man-at-Arms, the Sorceress, Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, and Beastman (though he looked more like Grizzlor) did appear, but the movie boosted new characters when they easily could have adapted a few more.  I did like the design of Saurod, but he is killed immediately…Blade is nice but he easily could have been Tri-Klops.  It is little decisions that helped sink the movie.

The decision to make Earth the battlefield wasn’t out of left field since in the cartoon had Adam’s mother coming from Earth (and even a trip to Earth in the holiday special).  The filmmakers have admitted that they created a lot of the mythos of the film as an homage to Jack Kirby and his Fourth World.  It amplifies the science-meets-sword & sorcery aspect that was in the cartoon and toys.  The movie does suffer in that by shifting the story to Earth, it immediately dated the movie by style and looks.

masters of the universe skeletor cosmic key frank langella

Wait ’til they get a load of me…

The casting is interesting.  This was Dolph Lundgren’s first big solo premiere, and he actually is not the worst He-Man.  Likewise Jon Cypher and Chelsea Field were decent Man-at-Arms and Teela casting.  Meg Foster is inspired Evil-Lyn casting with her haunting eyes, and Frank Langella eats up his scenes as Skeletor (he took the role because his son liked the toys).  The film also is notable for giving Courteney Cox a big role around the time she was starting on Family Ties.

Masters of the Universe is fun in that it is a relic of the 1980s, and no one has still given He-Man a fair movie.  The film was plotted for a sequel which never arose (the script for the sequel was modified for the Jean-Claude Van Damme film Cyborg).  The film was allegedly a beast and the results were not necessarily stellar…but as of now, it is all fans have for a big screen He-Man…He-Man will return however.

Related Links:

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe 1

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe 2:  Origins of Eternia

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe 3

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe 4:  What Lies Within

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe 5:  The Blood of Grayskull

He-Man and She-Ra:  A Christmas Special (1985)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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