February 13, 2015

Five Good Things about Masters of the Universe: Number 3, Eternia

Apart from the faux-Stormtrooper armor of Skeletor's guards, the look of the movie's planet Eternia is pretty rad. For not much money (and with no CGI), they create a rather interesting alien planet and pull off some snazzy shots. French artist Moebius, who lent his considerable artistic talent either directly or indirectly to the visual designs of Blade Runner, Alien, and Dune, did some impressive conceptual work. The film opens on a nice matte painting of the exterior of the iconic Castle Grayskull, and most of the first act takes place within, on what is really a neat set. Think the Emperor's throne room in Return of the Jedi, complete with a dangerous and highly unnecessary bottomless shaft for the black-robed, white-faced lightning-shooting evil wizard to fall into, combined with the Emperor's throne room in Dune.

He-Man gets a great introduction. Skeletor, having taken Grayskull, believes he has won. (And, were it not for the contrivances provided by the screenwriters' trusty Plot-O-Matic 3000, he has.) This being the case, he occasionally makes bombastic announcements to the "people of Eternia" as their new ruler, in which his giant face is holographically projected (presumably) all around the planet. Against the background of Skeletor's colossal face declaring that "Those who do not pledge themselves to me shall be destroyed!", He-Man appears in the foreground, tiny and alone on a rocky outcropping, his ripply muscle-y Dolph Lundgren back to us, staring grimly (I assume) at this evidence of Skeletor's seeming victory. This shot says everything we need to know just by the visuals. Rebels, Empire. We get a sense of how small and ill-equipped the Rebels are and how large and powerful the Empire Skeletor is.

They then immediately ruin this nice moment by showing He-Man fighting men in reflective padded armor shooting laser guns while he uses his sword to deflect their blaster fire back at them. Hmm...where have I seen that before?

But hey, if you're gonna steal, steal from the best, amirite?

Of course, because this movie sucks, we almost immediately leave Eternia and spend the rest of the movie on boring old Earth, that primitive and tasteless planet. But for a few early scenes, man, they were really onto something.

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