The origin of how this movie came about takes root from the Mattel smash toy hit of the same name. Trust me, when I was little, everyone had He-Man toys. We'd walk around and ask each other if they want to play "He-Mans" and usually had our figures in tow at all times. We fucking loved this shit. What's funny is that the toys were super cheaply made. For the most part, every figure had the same overly muscular body spray-painted different colors with different heads and different accessories or attachments. When you have a bunch of of the very same body for every male figure, it makes production costs quite a bit lower and gives you much more of a profit when these things sold like crazy hotcakes.
There were comics from DC Comics, a video game on Intellivision, and, of course, a super popular animated series on pretty much every day after school. Much like G.I. Joe and Transformers, the He-Man cartoon pretty much was there to only boost further sales of the toy line. But the popularity did not go unnoticed by Hollywood. It was only a matter of time that a live action movie would be produced.
And lucky us... It was Cannon Films that came along to deliver the goods.
Cannon was no stranger to big time flops of things that had no business being unsuccessful. Superman IV was an utter disaster. Over the Top starred the biggest star of the 80s, Sylvester Sallone, and was dead on arrival at the box office. A second dumpster fire Allan Quatermain film also pushed Cannon to the financial brink.
All of the movies listed above were also released in 1987. It was simply dud after disaster after shitcake slathered in body oil.
As kids, we were all overjoyed that He-Man would finally come to the big screen. We thought the Russian bad guy from Rocky IV also looked the part as well. So what could possibly go wrong? It's really hard to fuck up what's essentially a "swords and sandals" movie that has some sci-fi elements tossed in for good measure. I mean... Right?
|There's a face you can trust - to sell Teela to Evil-Lyn for the|
purposes of really kinky sex shit.
Which I would like to watch.
Make that fucking movie.
So this little monster guy, Gwildor, has this cosmic key device. It's a key to open passages to allow for people to travel quickly from one place to another. Skeletor already has one that has helped him basically concur Eternia. With Gwildor's, he will basically be able to rule the universe.
So what is it, movie? Controlling these keys will make you Master of the Universe or controlling Grayskull will make you Master of the Universe? I'm beginning to think you don't have a clear path through this plot.
Alright, well, He-Man and Skeletor have a brief face off when He-Man attempts to save the Sorceress. Gwildor is fucking about with the key which Evil-Lyn spots, and tries to cut a deal with the little runt to buy Teela for some kinky sex shit... Wait. That's the movie I want to watch, not the movie I AM watching. Shit. After the brief battle, Gwildor opens a portal that leads him, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, and Teela to Earth.
|Welcome back to Conan the Barbarian Meets a Monster |
Midget, a Borg, and a Sexy Mad Max Lady only on CBS.
That's a valuable lesson I will repeat just to point out its importance:
When on a quest to save your whole world DO NOT TAKE A DWARF WITH YOU. They can't run. They can't fight. They don't seem to care much for adventure as per the actual dialog of this movie. Plus... He's just being an asshole with his pork chop face.
After landing on Earth, He-Man and pals lose the key. As you do when you travel across space, time, and dimensions. Just as they were going to try to find the key to help them get back to Eternia, they encounter a cow. Instead of helping formulate a plan of how they will find the key, Gwildor decides to talk to the cow.
Nah, I'm mostly kidding. While Gwildor is inexplicably interested in communicating with a cow, He-Man does formulate the plan of what to do when they find the key. So at least someone is in charge here and not letting it spiral too far out of control thanks to the little fucking twerp with the monster face.
|The one with the hat was named Sarah Connor.|
Julie gets picked up by her boyfriend, Kevin, played by the guy who was Tom Paris on Star Trek: Voyager. Kevin takes Julie to the cemetery to say goodbye to her parents who died previously in a plane accident. That's... That doesn't seem important to a Masters of the Universe plot. I mean, I guess it means something to the Julie character and gives her a history, but it's really a strange thing to add to this sword and sorcery movie. In fact, one could say it is nothing more than a convenient character point to give Julie an excuse to buy totally into a grand adventure that may take her off Earth and into the stars forever. Another could say that she's just a Luke Skywalker ripoff. Parental figures are dead, so she can join up with the band of otherworldly characters fighting for a grand cause.
|Goddammit, Paris! This is why Janeway demoted you to|
Ensign for a bit. You fuck shit up, man!
Skeletor's troops arrive on Earth and attack Julie who has been left alone while Kevin goes to show off the key to the guy who runs the music instrument shop in the town. Julie escapes a whole bunch of army guys AND the four big bad crack troops and runs into He-Man who basically defeats the bad guys single handed until Teela and Man-at-Arms' arrival causes a retreat. He-Man tells Julie all about the battle against Skeletor and how they are looking for a cosmic key to get back home and win this crazy otherworldly battle. Julie just sits there listening to this story as if this is some normal business. He-Man's description, though, does reveal to Julie that this is the key she and Kevin found. Kevin rushes back from the music store but is headed off by this guy named Detective Lubic who is going to help him find Julie. So now there's a plain old, crotchety police detective mixed up in all this Eternia bullshit too, I guess?
However, when they report their failure, Saurod is killed and is replaced by Evil-Lyn - which totally extinguishes her fired up loins for that bony Skeletor dick.
Back on Earth, Lubic and Kevin get to Julie's house. She calls to confirm that Kevin still has the key and tells him to stay put so she and her new friends from Eternia can arrive and explain everything. Lubic starts fucking about with the key which, again, gives away the location of the device. Lubic leaves with the key to try to figure out if Kevin is telling the truth about where he found it and what it is by, I can only assume, finding an Eternian technology expert in this podunk middle-America town they live in. Evil-Lyn and Beast Man attack Kevin. He's forced to tell them what he knew of the key. They manage to leave just before He-Man arrives.
Oh, need another reminder why you DO NOT TAKE THE LITTLE DWARF MONSTER GUY on your quest?
|Okay, everybody... What have we learned?|
There are two important things about this. First, the movie takes place at night to help hide any bad effects or costumes. That's an old movie trick. Second, though, you can really get a feel for how cheaply this movie is made due to there being pretty much NO extras in this movie. The streets are practically... no, COMPLETELY empty. There are just a few cars parked in front of houses as well. There's hardly anyone else in this movie that doesn't have a speaking part. That's a tale tell sign of a movie that is being made on the very tightest of budgets and schedules. Even in, what I can assume is meant to be based on every piece of evidence given us during this movie, a sleepy middle-America town, there should be some sort of life seen. But there isn't. It's like this town this takes place in is a ghost town. It's like this thing that all these monster people with big, hovering tanks, and people in strange clothing, not to mention a giant muscle-bound gladiator guy walking around wearing hardly anything, has been noticed by no one. No one other than our main cast is affected by this at all. Without collateral damage, it's kinda hard to really feel worried for anything when there are no consequences to this giant inter-galactic battle has broken out on Earth.
But I digress...
Oh, and guess what... When Julie came in and snatched the key, Gwildor is unable to chase after her to stop her. You know why? See all that stuff I said above about not taking a little dwarf with you on your grand quests. That is fucking why.
|Just in case you're wondering, Pence is on the second hover|
car thing behind him.
Skeletor captures Teela, Man-at-Arms, Gwildor, Julie, and Kevin.to set a trap for He-Man. He nearly fights through all the soldiers to get to Skeletor, but he's given a choice - return to Eternia as Skeletor's slave or he and everyone else can die on Earth. He-Man surrenders and is taken back. The others are left behind with their damaged key that Gwildor says cannot be repaired to send them home.
|Whoa... Things are gettin' kinky in Eternia tonight!|
Skeletor receives the power to become Master of the Universe. He gets a fancy new gold godly outfit and demands He-Man to kneel. On Earth, the key is activated and He-Man's friends are transported to Eternia just as Lubic comes along and tries to arrest them like an asshole. During the battle in the throne room, He-Man breaks free from his bonds and fights his way to his sword where he holds it up, and says his "I have the power!" thing and is able to then battle Skeletor on an equal level. The battle between Skeletor and He-Man is... really badly shot. It's basically just them swinging a staff and a sword around in a darken, backlit room that only lasts about 3 minutes before Skeletor is knocked off into a bottomless abyss. With him defeated, the Sorceress regains her powers and Eternia is freed from Skeletor's terror.
Lubic suddenly has Eternia clothing and a young broad to fuck him and seems to be plenty happy just stay and fly a middle finger to Earth. Julie and Kevin are sent back to Earth. Gwildor says, "Yo, you sure you don't want to travel back into Earth's history? You know, I can send you back to any time you wish." Julie says no, and starts to walk through the portal before realizing she can go back to before her parents left for their trip when they died. It's a good thing Gwildor knows what's what and sends her back to the morning before her parents left. So... Happy ending I guess.
Here's the thing about this movie... It's not that bad. It's far from good, though. Don't get me wrong there. On a base level, this wasn't much different than some of the other sword and sorcery films of the 80s. They are stilted and they are kinda poorly acted and there are crazy ideas that are absolutely silly. However, take away the recognizable title, names, setting, and you pretty much have something seen quite often in the earlier part of the decade. I think the fact that this was called Masters of the Universe and it pitted He-Man against Skeletor probably set expectations higher than normal. It likely also set the movie up to fail if it was off center just a bit.
It would also be interesting if this wasn't a Cannon Films production, but instead something from Warner Brothers or Paramount. I think we would have seen quite a bit different casting and the movie would have probably looked much more polished with all its effects and sets being much better crafted. I think it's safe to say this movie would not have primarily taken place on Earth. A larger studio knowing what popularity the cartoon had, would have very likely stuck much closer to Eternia with all the weirdos that are found there. I can't say that the movie would have been any better as an end product, but at least it would have looked like something other than a cheap ass Cannon production.
That does it for this week's B-Movie Enema. Let me tell you, I'm glad to finally be done with the year 1987 for this Summer of Anniversaries series. That was a rough summer for movies that seemed to be surefire successful properties. So, we bid adieu to the Jawses and Supermen and the He-Men and journey to 2002 for our next anniversary. It's the first chance for me to talk about a Vin Diesel movie. So, let's shake hands with EXTREME! with Xander Cage in xXx! See you next week!