Judge David Johnson has an octode rectifier!
Our review of Masters Of The Universe, published November 1st, 2005, is also available.
"The Alpha and the Omega. Death and rebirth. As you die, so will I be reborn!"
In 1987, with the nation engulfed in full-on He-Man frenzy, blockbuster chop-shop Cannon unleashed this live-action fantasy adventure. Oh what joy to see these animated icons of my childhood spring to life! He-Man! Skeletor! Evil-Lyn! Teela! Man-at-Arms! Kevin the unemployed high school keyboardist!
Facts of the Case
"Eternia." What comes to mind? Majestic palaces? Purple mountains? Whimsical fluorescent flora and fauna? Skin-tight pink wool jumpers?
Think again. Eternia is a war-torn apocalyptic landscape, burnt-out and scorched after years of armed conflict between the forces of the evil Skeletor (Frank Langella, The Box) and Castle Grayskull's army of benevolence and olive drab uniforms, led by the mighty He-Man (Dolph Lundgren, The Expendables).
For so long, He-Man has been able to squelch Skeletor's advances, combining masterful swordcraft with a winning smile. Only when Skeletor stumbles upon a magic key made by an ugly dwarf do the tables turn. This key creates portals in space-time, allowing the bad guys to penetrate the defenses of Grayskull, capture the Sorceress (the castle's guardian), and put into action Skeletor's diabolical plan: Open Grayskull's drawing room window at midnight, and use the key's magic to soak up the power of the universe, turning him into some kind of magic steampunk pharaoh.
He-Man once again throws a wrench into the works, stealing the key and jumping into a wormhole that drops his gang onto Earth. Skeletor tracks them and sends an invasion force, forcing He-Man to do what must be done, namely, burning a small Midwestern town to the ground.
So much to unpack.
Masters of the Universe represented the culmination of my cartoon-watching life in the mid-1980s. With a live-action Transformers film not considered plausible, this was the sole big-screen realization of the stuff I watched during my formative couch potato years—and it was glorious.
What it wasn't, was a straight adaptation of the cartoon. There was no Cringer, no Orko, no King and Queen, no Ram-Man, and, most notably, zero Prince Adam-to-He-Man transformations (a dynamic I haven't quite yet wrapped my head around; is He-Man some kind of Hyde-like parasite that emerges tan and fit when the situation calls for it?)
Cannon's muscular opus takes the mythology in a different direction, adding new characters, subtracting many others, and cooking up a cornball story centered around one of the plot deviciest plot devices ever shoe-horned into a movie.
No matter. It was big fun and remains big fun. If you think otherwise you must hate America or tall blonde men in capes.
Let's take a closer look at the characters:
Kevin and Julie
Teela and Man-at-Arms
The New Guys
Sadly, fans of this breathtaking work are denied the HD treatment we so richly deserve. The 1.85:1/1080p transfer is a mediocre one. The resolution is soft and grain is evident throughout. It's an upgrade from the DVD, sure, but not by enough to mandate a re-buy. Add to that a so-so DTD-HD 2.0 Master Audio track and one recycled extra from the standard-def release—an entertaining commentary from director Gary Goddard, the highlight of which is his recounting of the Tale of Pig Boy—and you have a release that doesn't measure up to…Oh, who am I kidding. It's a miracle this thing got a Blu-ray release in the first place.
Be a hater if you want. But I bet you a thousand octode rectifiers that deep down you're disappointed the implied sequel was never greenlit.
Not Guilty. Good journey!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
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