February 5, 2015

Five Good Things About Masters of the Universe

Masters of the Universe is one of the worst theatrically-released action movies of the 1980s. It's so bad it sunk its production company, the unparalleled masters of crap known as Cannon Films, a company that even The Apple and 17 Chuck-Norris-in-Vietnam movies couldn't destroy. But MotU managed it.

Masters of the Universe began as a toy line, whose only "story" consisted of mini-comics included with each doll action figure. Not a lot of depth there. This is a toy line in which the muscle-y barbarian hero is named "He-Man" and the villain, who is an animated skeleton, is called "Skeletor". A skeleton. Named Skeletor. They must've spent upwards of minutes coming up with that one. The Filmation cartoon series added more depth, but it was actually worse because the added elements made even less sense. The dumbest thing of all was giving He-Man an alter ego in the form of the meek and ineffective Prince Adam. In order to "transform" into He-Man, Adam had to pull the Sword of Power from his back and hold it aloft in the most phallic way possible, standing as erect as his iron-hard sword allows in order to become a real man. (It's not quite on the order of Thundercats, in which the hero's sword literally grows longer and stronger as he cries out for a lady of the evening, but it's not far off.) Never mind the fact that Adam is wearing pink and white tights, so there's no way he could carry a sword strapped to his back without its being visible, yet it doesn't appear until he reaches for it, and never mind that Adam looks exactly like He-Man, only paler and wearing clothes. Superman at least wore glasses. He-Man...loses his tan. Surely Skeletor will never penetrate this cunning disguise! And even when yer old pal Carl Eusebius was a wee tot 3 years of age and therefore dumb enough to like this crap, he wondered how Adam could be a weakling when he has exactly the same ripped physique as He-Man.

I guess it's still better than Battle Cat, the tiger He-Man rides (really). BC transmogrifies from a green-and-yellow-striped tiger into a green-and-yellow-striped tiger...wearing a hat. It takes the Sword of Power to put a hat on a tiger? Was The Sword designed by Siegfried and Roy?

So MotU sucked from the beginning, making it a real challenge for Cannon: Make the film too similar to the show, and it'll be terrible, but make it too different, and you lose the built-in audience of dumb kids that presumably were the reason the film was made in the first place. Being the kings of bad decisions, the people at Cannon decided to go for broke and do both. Following the comics and not the TV show, the movie left kids who only knew the show baffled (almost all of them, since the comics had long since been discontinued by 1987 and the show was the closest MotU had to canon at that point), while the adults who didn't know anything about the series guffawed at every mention of the name "He-Man" and sat bored out of the their skull-bones until the credits rolled.

Still, before I rip into this piece of shit, I wanted to point out some good things about it. Because as bad as it is, there are some really, really effective parts. And that just makes yer old pal Carl Eusebius even madder. This good stuff, wasted here in this pile of crap. It's enough to make you want to stop purposefully watching shitty movies and writing a terrible blog about them. So, over the next five days, enjoy Five Good Things about Masters of the Universe.

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