Film Review: Masters of the Universe (1987)


If you were making a movie based on a famous toy line and you had no choice but to cast Dolph Lundgren in the lead, you probably couldn’t do much better than Gary Goddard did with Masters of the Universe.  The screenplay by David Odell (The Dark Crystal) transplants the action from He-Man’s home world to our own planet.  I’m sure this was a cost-cutting measure more than anything else, but seeing these larger-than-life characters as fish out of water is probably one of the reasons this movie ends up cutting the mustard… barely.

Dolph certainly doesn’t help matters.  Every line he utters is a tortured one, but the rest of the cast actually do an admirable job.  Frank Langella gives a wonderfully over-the-top performance as Skeletor.  James Tolkan, Billy Barty, and Meg Foster are good in supporting roles. The icing on the cake is Rocky composer Bill Conti’s thunderously triumphant score, which is terrific enough to make you forget how uneven or silly the movie is at times.

In the end, Masters of the Universe manages to be just a little bit more than an extended toy commercial.  I think it’s cool that someone even tried to stretch those boundaries.

Rating: 2.75/5 ★★¾☆☆ 


About Scott_S

Scott studied film and sociology at Indiana University and is currently the video producer for a large publishing company. He is the director of several independent films, including "House of Hope," "Off the Beaten Path," "The Day Joe Left," and "Found." For more about Scott, visit Scott is also one of the principal organizers of the Dark Carnival Film Festival. (

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