Friday, December 20, 2013

Masters of the Universe (1987) Review:

It's no surprise that after the success of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) cartoon that Hollywood became interested in creating a live-action version of the series. However, it turned out to be a financial and critical blunder for everyone - crewmembers and audiences alike. It's pretty much a split right down the middle. It either will be enjoyed or it won't be. I for one had a hard time figuring out where my stance is. It certainly is not even close to being a good movie but it also isn't close to being a terrible film either. It's just blah.

The film starts out with already what seems like a finale to the film - Skeletor (Frank Langella) has captured the Sorceress of Castle Grayskull and wants to lure He-Man (Dolph Lundgren) himself into a trap so he can acquire the powers of Grayskull. All Skeletor needs is He-Man's sword. But writer David Odell thought it would be a good idea to create a subplot that involved a gizmo called the "Cosmic Key" that can transport anybody anywhere across the universe. But the only way to make this item work is to play a musical tune out of the finger pads surrounding it. I mean, it’s an ok plot device but it's not necessary.

Upon being ambushed when He-Man arrives to confront Skeletor, a portal is opened from the cosmic key and he lands on Earth. From there a boy and a girl find the instrument and mistake it for a synthesizer. How 80s like. It's because of this plot device that carries the whole film. As a whole, it’s a chase, but it's a slow chase. And kind of cumbersome too. Every scene is one cliched chase after another where each team is a step behind the other. It's just so happens that everything occurs coincidentally with one another to string along a very thin plot line. It's not great entertainment but one should also understand that it isn't unwatchable either.

The Eternians
To be fair, this film stays pretty faithful to the cartoon. Everything from the set design of Eternia, to the costume design of each character looks and feels like the cartoon was rendered into the real world. Dolph Lundgren's physic matches He-Man accurately as does his co-star Jon Cypher as Man-At-Arms (with that brush of a mustache). Frank Langella as Skeletor was an okay choice, but his make up could have been done better and he could have at least tried to make his voice a little higher pitched. The same goes for many of the other creature like characters. In some ways, they remind me of Steve Wang's creature costumes. I did wish the character of Man-E-Faces was included though. He was an awesome character.

What's even more interesting is too see a very young Courteney Cox as the girl. However, that doesn't mean that the acting is great. For the actors that take part in this, the performances aren't really convincing. No one's performance really feels genuine, nor is any of the dialog anything special. Even for an 80s movie, you'd think there'd be cheesy one liners - not even that. But again, it's not terrible, just plain. But, the other aspect I did find gratifying was Bill Conti's score to the film. I am confused to why he didn't reuse the theme from the cartoon but his new tune sounds praiseworthy none the less. There is a theme and it sounds heroic. Too bad it can't support all the other dead weight.

For a live-action film, it stays faithful to the cartoon and has a good musical score, but its' actors' performances are barely passable and the writing is too silly.

Points Earned --> 5:10

No comments:

Post a Comment