Masters of the Universe (film)
|Masters of the Universe|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Gary Goddard|
|Produced by||Edward R. Pressman
|Written by||David Odell
Robert Duncan McNeill
|Music by||Bill Conti|
|Editing by||Anne V. Coates|
|Distributed by||Cannon Films
(Warner Bros. Pictures)
|Release date(s)||August 7, 1987|
|Running time||106 minutes|
Masters of the Universe is a 1987 science fiction fantasy film, based on the toy line of the same name. The film stars Dolph Lundgren as He-Man and Frank Langella as Skeletor, alongside Jon Cypher as Man-At-Arms, Chelsea Field as Teela, Billy Barty as Gwildor, and Courteney Cox as Julie.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (October 2010)|
On the Planet Eternia, at the center of the Universe, Skeletor's (Frank Langella) army has seized Castle Grayskull and captured the Sorceress of Grayskull (Christina Pickles). He plans to exploit Grayskull's hidden power when the "Great Eye of the Galaxy" (a portal in the castle's throne room) opens.
The remaining Eternian defenders are scattered and outnumbered. Among them are Eternia's greatest warrior and Skeletor's archenemy, He-Man (Dolph Lundgren), veteran soldier Man-At-Arms (Jon Cypher) and his daughter Teela (Chelsea Field). They attack a unit of Skeletor's troops, and rescue a Thenorian inventor/locksmith named Gwildor (Billy Barty), who takes them to his home and tells them Skeletor has stolen his newest invention: a "Cosmic Key" that can open a portal to any point in time and space. Skeletor used it to breach Castle Grayskull, but Gwildor still has the prototype. When Skeletor's forces arrive seeking it, Gwildor escapes with it and the Eternians through a secret passageway, directly to Grayskull.
At Grayskull, they are ambushed by Skeletor and his troops. In desperation to flee, Gwildor uses the Key to arbitrarily open a gateway, which happens to lead to just outside Whittier, California. The Key is lost upon their arrival and they split up to find it. Meanwhile, in Whittier, two teenagers, Julie Winston (Courteney Cox) and Kevin Corrigan (Robert Duncan McNeill), discover the Key and start pressing its buttons. This allows Skeletor's second-in-command, Evil-Lyn (Meg Foster), to trace the signal to Earth. She sends a crack team to recover it, consisting of Saurod, Blade, Beastman and Karg (who is appointed as leader).
Kevin, an aspiring musician, mistakes the Key for a Japanese synthesizer and takes it to a friend at a music store to get a second opinion, leaving Julie in their high school gym. Karg's team arrives and chases Julie until He-Man rescues her. Karg's team returns to Grayskull where, incensed by their failure, Skeletor kills Saurod with a blast of energy and sends the others back to Earth, with a larger force under Evil-Lyn's command.
Kevin returns to find the school on fire and Julie missing. The detective on scene, Lubic (James Tolkan), takes Kevin to Julie's house to look for her. Julie calls home, and Kevin answers. She tells him the importance of the Cosmic Key and to guard it, but Lubic confiscates it, suspecting it is stolen, and leaves. Immediately afterward, Evil-Lyn captures and interrogates Kevin about the Key with the use of a mind control collar, then leaves to get the Key from Lubic.
Julie and the Eternians reunite with Kevin, remove his collar and proceed to the music store where Lubic has taken the Key for identification. Skeletor's troops also arrive at the store and a battle ensues. Julie hides in a back room with the Key, but Evil-Lyn, holographically disguised as Julie's dead mother (Gwynne Gilford), lures her out and persuades her to hand it over, before revealing her true self.
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 magic lightning, destroying Gwildor's Key in the process. He-Man surrenders to spare his friends and returns to Grayskull as Skeletor's slave. The remaining Eternians combine their technology to create a new Key, using a regular synthesizer to play the particular melody required for Grayskull, which Kevin had memorized. Lubic blunders his way into the portal and is transported to Eternia with them.
On Eternia, He-Man is brought inside the throne room of Castle Grayskull and chained to the floor by Skeletor's warriors. Skeletor informs He-Man that he will kneel before him for all of Eternia to witness, before he is killed. In a show of defiance, He-Man lunges towards Skeletor and states that he will never kneel before him. Enraged, Skeletor orders Blade to torture him with a laser-whip. Bound and virtually broken, He-Man is forced to watch the Great Eye of Grayskull open and Skeletor absorb the powers of the universe. Convinced that he is now the Master of the Universe and is finally victorious over his nemesis, Skeletor once again orders He-Man to kneel before him, to which He-Man again refuses. Skeletor demonstrates his new powers in an attempt to force He-Man to kneel.
Back on Earth, Gwildor builds a make-shift Cosmic Key via a combination of a keyboard and Eternian equipment from Man-At-Arms and Teila. Kevin remembers the tones used by the Cosmic Key and plays the keyboard to activate a dimensional doorway back to Eternia and inside Castle Grayskull. As Skeletor orders them to be destroyed, he accidentally blasts He-Man's chains in the process. This frees He-Man, which allows him to take out many of Skeletor's minions and allows him to reclaim the sword of Grayskull. Evenly matched, He-Man does battle with Skeletor. Using the sword of Grayskull, He-Man destroys Skeletor's staff, causing Skeletor to lose his newfound powers. In desperation, Skeletor draws his sword, but He-Man knocks him into a deep moat at the bottom of the castle.
The rescued Sorceress heals Julie, and a portal is opened to return the Earthlings to Earth. Lubic, treated as a hero here, decides to stay on Eternia. Awakening on the morning of her parents' death in a plane crash, Julie prevents them from taking the 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 raises his head from red liquid at the bottom of the moat and proclaims, "I will be back!"
One of the original drafts from the script by David Odell (whose previous writing credits include Supergirl and The Dark Crystal) was reviewed in episode 3 of the He-Man and She-Ra podcast, Masters Cast. The original draft 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, as per the Queen Marlena character from the Filmation animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, thus linking the two planets.
- Dolph Lundgren - He-Man
- Frank Langella - Skeletor
- Anthony De Longis - Blade
- Meg Foster - Evil-Lyn
- Tony Carroll - Beast Man
- Chelsea Field - Teela
- Billy Barty - Gwildor
- Courteney Cox - Julia "Julie" Winston
- Robert Duncan McNeill - Kevin Corrigan
- Jon Cypher - Man-At-Arms
- James Tolkan - Detective Lubic
- Christina Pickles - Sorceress
- Pons Maar - Saurod
- Robert Towers - Karg
- Peter Brooks - Narrator
Despite debuting at No. 3 at the box office with a budget of $22 million, the movie only grossed $17,336,370 in the U.S  It is referred to as a "flop" by Variety magazine, and has a 18% "rotten" rating at Rotten Tomatoes. The film was poorly received by critics including by the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. The film earned a Razzie Award nomination for Billy Barty as Worst Supporting Actor. Jim Whaley of WPBA-TV/Atlanta called the film "the Star Wars of the '80s".
Comparison with Jack Kirby's Fourth World 
|“||"The best New Gods movie, IMHO, is 'Masters of the Universe'. I even corresponded with the director, who told me this was his intent, and that he had tried to get [Jack] Kirby to do the production designs, but the studio nixed it." "Check it out. It requires some bending and an occasional sex change (Metron becomes an ugly dwarf, The Highfather becomes the Sorceress), but it's an amazingly close analog, otherwise. And Frank Langella's Skeletor is a dandy Darkseid!"||”|
Director Gary Goddard clarified this in a letter appearing in John Byrne's Next Men #26, in which he stated:
|“||"As the director of Masters of the Universe, it was a pleasure to see that someone got it. Your comparison of the film to Kirby’s New Gods was not far off. In fact, the storyline was greatly inspired by the classic Fantastic Four/Doctor Doom epics, The New Gods and a bit of Thor thrown in here and there. I intended the film to be a "motion picture comic book," though it was a tough proposition to sell to the studio at the time. 'Comics are just for kids,' they thought. They would not allow me to hire Jack Kirby who I desperately wanted to be the conceptual artist for the picture…
I grew up with Kirby's comics (I’ve still got all my Marvels from the first issue of Fantastic Four and Spider-Man through the time Kirby left) and I had great pleasure meeting him when he first moved to California. Since that time I enjoyed the friendship of Jack and Roz and was lucky enough to spend many hours with Jack, hearing how he created this character and that one, why a villain has to be even more powerful than a hero, and on and on. Jack was a great communicator, and listening to him was always an education. You might be interested to know that I tried to dedicate Masters of Universe to Jack Kirby in the closing credits, but the studio took the credit out."
Brian Cronin, author of the "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed" column, concludes that "the film itself was not intended to be literally a reworked Fourth World, although the intent WAS to make the film a tribute to Jack Kirby - just a tribute to ALL of his work, not just the Fourth World."
Abandoned sequel 
Cannon Films intended to create a sequel, which is indicated after the end credits when it is revealed that Skeletor in fact survives his fall. 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.
Future film projects 
|This section is outdated. (September 2011)|
A new He-Man movie directed by John Woo was reportedly being developed in 2007, but despite many rumors circulating around the Internet regarding the film's production status and casting, the project was never officially green-lit. The film rights to He-Man have reportedly since reverted to Mattel.
In September 2009, Sony took over the rights from Warner Bros to produce the Masters of the Universe live action film after Mattel and producer Joel Silver, who was previously involved with a potential film, couldn't agree on creative direction for the film. Sony and Escape Artists' Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal and Steve Tisch will now start developing the project from scratch for Columbia Pictures. In April 2010, Sony hired screenwriters Mike Finch and Alex Litvak to draft a new script.
Home video 
Masters of the Universe was released on DVD October 23, 2001. A 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray disc was released on October 2, 2012.
- "`Masters` A Lesson In More Thrills For Less". Chicago Tribune. 1987-08-13. Retrieved 2010-08-28.
- Arts, ' (1987-08-11). "Weekend Box Office". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-17.
- "Masters Cast - Episode 3". Masters Cast. Retrieved 2012-07-23.
- Box Office/Business information for the film at the Internet Movie Database.
- ""He-Man Returning to the Big Screen" superherohype.com/''Variety''; May 24, 2007". Superherohype.com. Retrieved 2010-04-28.
- "Masters of the Universe at Rotten Tomatoes". Rottentomatoes.com. Retrieved 2010-04-28.
- Goodman, Walter (1987-08-08). "Film: He-Man Seeks Key". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-08.
- Wilmington, Michael (1987-08-12). "'Masters Of The Universe' Misfires". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
- "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #75". Goodcomics.comicbookresources.com. Retrieved 2010-04-28.
- "Masters of the Universe DVD (1987)". BBC. Retrieved 2010-08-08.
- "Sequel Baiting Endings That Didn't Work". Empire. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
- Clint Morris, Fox2000 no longer has the Power of Grayskull, Moviehole, November 30, 2006.
- By (2009-09-23). "Barbie's a living doll at Universal - Entertainment News, Film News, Media". Variety. Retrieved 2010-04-28.
- drees, Rich. "MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE Gets Screenwriters". filmbuffonline.com. Retrieved 2010-04-12.
- "Masters Of The Universe: 25th Anniversary (BD) | WBshop.com | Warner Bros". Wbshop.com. Retrieved 2012-07-24.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Masters of the Universe|
- Masters of the Universe at the Internet Movie Database
- Masters of the Universe at AllRovi
- Warner Bros.