Before it was standard practice to turn any toys, cartoons, and everything in-between into a movie, 1987 gifted us a live-action He-Man movie starring Dolph Lundgren and Monica from Friends. Much like most people who saw Masters of the Universe, my first experience was catching it on a rainy bank holiday. If you thought Krull was a shameless attempt to be ‘the new Star Wars’, Masters of the Universe tries so hard it out camps Flash Gordon yet lacks any of charm of Mike Hodges’ 1980 cult classic.
Every cent of the $22 million budget is up there on the screen, from the rubber mask that Frank Langella wears to play Skeletor, or the shameless attempt to “cash in” on Star Wars. For all the sins too numerous to list, Masters of the Universe swings all the way around from bad, to it’s so bad it’s kinda brilliant. Bathed in the harsh neon glow of the 80s, Masters of the Universe is by all accounts a movie trying desperately to launch a franchise, sell more toys, and SELL. MORE. TOYS.
I grew up watching the animated series, I owned the toys, I wore the T-shirt, I never grew the mighty He-Man bangs, but my brother once gave me an unrequested bowl haircut. Dolph does his best with a stinker of a script “I’ll never kneel before you!” he delivers with all the subtly of an actor reading his line. Unintentionally kinky, lifeless action sequences, and the set up for a sequel that never arrived. Masters of the Universe is utter 80s dross at its finest, it has aged terribly, and its lasting gift to the world is a neat Comsic Key ring tone. A reboot is in the works, but for now, Masters of the Universe holds the title of best and worst live-action portrayal of He-Man. Actually, that’s not true as that Money Supermarket advert was pretty good.