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Rated PG
Copyright 1987 Cannon Films Inc.
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 'a long time ago'

The Characters:  

  • He-Man - Dolph Lundgren! Steroid defender of all that is good.
  • Duncan - Man at Arms, a grizzled veteran who is constantly hungry.
  • Teela - Duncan's daughter who, um... ...she's in every scene darn it.
  • Gwildor - Dwarf (They have some other upbeat name for his race.) inventor who created the Cosmic Key and likes talking to cows.
  • Julie - Courteney Cox! Depressed girl who can't get over her parents death and is moving to New Jersey as treatment. I think I'd rather go with electric shocks to my brain housing group.
  • Kevin - Julie's boyfriend and 80s musician. (Which means he plays a synthesizer.)
  • The Sorceress - For some reason this woman has a chandelier on her head, maybe it focuses solar energy? I dunno...
  • Lubic - James Tolkan! (The bald CO from "Top Gun.") Short cop with an attitude.
  • Beastman, Blade, Saurod, and Karg - Mercenaries in Skeletor's army, Karg is one of those "take charge and yell a lot" guys. Skeletor zaps Saurod into special effects heaven.
  • Evil Lyn - Meg Foster! (Cagney from Cagney and Lacey.) Probably the only competent evil person in the whole movie.
  • Skeletor - Embodiment of all that is evil, a powerful warlock who wishes to control the universe and destroy He-Man. Falls into a power well, where have I seen the main bad guy fall down a shaft into a reactor or something before?

Buy It!

The Plot: 

Who said action figures couldn't make for a great movie? Well, this film actually, but it is pretty darn amusing. The acting is really something else, half the time I'm wondering why He-Man sounds so damn happy. Considering that Castle Greyskull has fallen to a surprise attack by Skeletor and the Sorceress is his prisoner, this guy should be a little worried.

Soon he discovers how the forces of evil penetrated their defenses, a slightly insane Dwarf who created the ultimate key. This key, which sounds like it was manufactured by Yamaha, can open anything - even doorways between dimensions. Which is how the group ends up on Earth, though the device which brought them there lands some distance away.

This gives a neat reason to include a budding Courteney (not a joke about her breasts, well maybe) and her A-Ha idolizing boyfriend, because they find the Cosmic Key and immediately begin playing with it.

Skeletor's forces lock in on the signals and battles rage through the suburbs. Surprise, surprise the good guys lose the first encounter and He-Man is taken in chains back to Greyskull, everyone else is left alive on Earth to rot.

Of course Gwildor MacGuyvers up a makeshift Cosmic key and Kevin remembers the song to open the gateway to Eternia. He-Man sees his friends, breaks free, and recovers his sword for a final battle with a Skeletor (who has just absorbed the power of the universe, as if that would matter. He's the BAD guy, Dolph is the GOOD guy - he's screwed).

Okay, the film is very predictable, but combine the premise with a "motivating" fantasy score and I start cracking up. They should play this music in mental wards, though having two hundred people in gowns acting like Conan would probably be bad...

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • One blonde weight lifter with a sword can take out two dozen guys with laser rifles.
  • Good guys use blue lasers, evil guys use red lasers.
  • Anybody randomly jumping dimensions will end up on Earth.
  • Courteney Cox doesn't look good in a red cowboy hat.
  • Never annoy an undead warlock.
  • Microwaves are excellent jamming devices.
  • People from other dimensions speak perfect English, but use different units of measure.
  • A bargain synthesizer can open dimensional gateways.
  • Sword fights tend to blow the fuses.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 3 mins - VADER?! Sorry...false alarm.
  • 15 mins - If Quinn Mallory jumps out of that thing I'll die laughing.
  • 21 mins - Courteney Cox! Girl, where in the hell did you get that hat? (Snap, snap, snap.)
  • 38 mins - Why the heck does everyone think this thing is Japanese?
  • 65 mins - Now who didn't see this coming? Julie, you are dumb as a post.
  • 67 mins - No! Don't hide behind the 1968 Firebird!


  • Skeletor: "Your wondrous Sorceress will die!"
    Duncan: "You dare threaten her life?"
    Skeletor: "I dare anything! I am Skeletor!"

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note mastersu1.wav Narrator: "At the center of the Universe. At the border between the light and the dark stands Castle Greyskull."
Green Music Note mastersu2.wav Duncan: "He-Man! Thank the Sorceress you're alive!"
He-Man: "I've been looking for you."
Green Music Note mastersu3.wav Kevin: "Whoa-hoo! You know this is one of those new Japanese synthesizers."
Green Music Note mastersu4.wav He-Man and Skeletor square off on an intellectual level. (This really doesn't last long.)

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipmastersu1.mpg - 1.8m
If the movie had not included this scene it would not have been complete. I wanted to hear Dolph say it, you wanted to hear Dolph say it, so all together now, one, two, three:

"I have the POWER!"

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Comments:Write CommentPages: [1] 2 3 ... 9
Masters of the Universe
Reply #1. Posted on July 19, 1999, 01:57:41 AM by

I should be more specific, Meg Foster only played Cagney in the very first (1982) season.  I honestly never watched the show, except it must have been that season (My mother loved cop shows, I still get "Hill Street Blues" flashbacks now and then.) since I always could have sworn the girl shown as Cagney wasn't the one I remembered.  Up until doing the review and checking the IMDB credits I thought I was losing my mind.
Masters of the Universe
Reply #2. Posted on July 20, 1999, 01:12:29 PM by NetFrog Alpha
This was probably the first movie I saw in the theatres, and it was cool. To top that off, it had a great line of toys, including a cyber-lizard looking-thing that shot sparks out of its mouth!!! How can you go wrong? You can't.
Masters of the Universe
Reply #3. Posted on July 22, 1999, 10:10:29 PM by
I remember when the He-Man toys first came out, I loved them. I also remember imagining what a live-action He-Man movie would be like. Years later, we got this. I was still young enough to want to see it, and I liked it. However, I've seen it a couple times since and it really was bad. Despite near perfect casting, the movie went afoul when He-Man came to earth. It never happened in the show. If it had been more like THE DARK CRYSTAL and stayed on Eternia,  instead of predicting the NINJA TURTLES movies, it'd be a classic. Well, maybe not. After all, what can you expect from a movie of a cartoon of a toy line that was originally intended as a CONAN toy line!
Masters of the Universe
Reply #4. Posted on July 23, 1999, 02:31:17 AM by
Hey, my name's Adam Tyner, and I created the second He-Man website ever, way back in 1995.  Honestly, it's pathetic that filmmakers with millions upon millions of dollars at their disposal couldn't capture the spirit of a syndicated cartoon made on a shoestring budget.  "Masters of the Universe" wasn't the greatest cartoon ever, but when it was done well, it was SPECTACULAR.  Episodes like "Teela's Quest" and "The Problem With Power" are some of the best episodes of any cartoon ever made, and it's a shame that such brilliance never made its way to the big screen.  If it had, we probably would've seen sequels and playing with He-Man figures till, what, 92, 93?  :-)  Actually, a little bit of obscure movie history -- MOTU did have a sequel go into pre-production, but it didn't take long for it to turn into a totally different project.  "Cyborg".  Yup, the Jean-Claude Van-Damme movie.  If you see it on TV, it should have the full title "Masters of the Universe II -- The Cyborg".
Masters of the Universe
Reply #5. Posted on August 01, 1999, 12:47:21 PM by Warren H.
Did you notice that after the closing credits, there's a short scene of bubbling red water out of which Skeletor jumps and says "I'll be back!"?  I remember the line for this movie stretching all the way around the block when I went to see it.  Gotta agree that He-Man coming to Earth was a totally bad idea, but compare this to other cartoon/comic-book based movies and it stands out as one of the best (well, better) ones.
Masters of the Universe
Reply #6. Posted on August 31, 1999, 11:40:25 AM by
Well, its very easy to take shots at works after the fact.  Let me tell you - that was an amazing experience. I had control over everthing except casting of Dolph, he came with the package, and the script, which also came wiht the package.  But I did my best to make it all work.  I think we did a pretty good job -- you have no idea what its like to make movie based on a toyline, wherein the toy company has final say on every aspect of the characters, what they say and what they do.  But the picture LOOKS great (Bill Stout on costumes, production design), the actors all went on to future suceess, and for many it was their first movie, and ultimatly, not that this is an excuse, but remember -- this was a movie for kids who knew the He-Man stories from the cartoons.  So we tried to aim it older without losing the kids. Finally, for all the fans that wanted Orco and Battle Cat and every other character - give me a break - we were not making cartoon that could contain 50 main characters, and we had to FOCUS on a human story of some kind.  Lastly, we had a small budget (by Hollywood standards at the time) and THAT is why they came to Earth kids.  I watched the movie again recently and guess what - its prety damn good and frankly, I don't think it belongs here on your list of "bad movies" but hey - those that can, DO, and those that can't, write stupid criticisms with "witty" cutdowns.  

Gary Goddard
Masters of the Universe
Reply #7. Posted on March 10, 2000, 06:41:54 PM by
Dolph and Frank did a great job.Teela is sexy but that little elf guy really got on my nerves(Bily Barty is not funny).I am glad that they made it live action and not just an animated 90 minute toy advertisemnt.
Masters of the Universe
Reply #8. Posted on April 19, 2000, 06:05:31 PM by STPezatcha
This movie is a supreme disapointment...Where the hell is orco? instead we get this red haired grizzy adams midget. I'm still looking for battle cat.
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