Masters of the Universe

tn_mastersoftheuniverseMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE is a Golan and Globus production starring Dolph Lundgren, but it’s a little more mainstream than that implies because it’s for the children, it’s based on action figures and on a cartoon based on action figures. I was looking for that same authorial voice and unique perspective we saw represented in the TRANSFORMERSes and GI JOE, but it turns out that’s Hasbro, this one is based on the works of Mattel. That’s like mixing up H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe. I feel like an idiot.

I guess Cannon was trying to make their version of a STAR WARS type fantasy sci-fi-deal. You can tell that when a character says “You got us here, you Thumerian wurbat, now get us home,” but it was already clear from the opening credits over a starfield and the STAR WARSy themes by Bill Conti. Then the credits explode into a shower of sparks. How could this not be exciting?

The place: the vegetarian planet of Eternia. The battle: for Castle Grayskull, a castle that has a skull on the front, that has now been taken over by a skull-faced villain called Skeletor (Frank Langella, Academy Award nominee for FROST/NIXON). He sits on the throne and has the castle’s on-site sorceress (Christina Pickles) held hostage in a magic bubble. He makes evil declarations to his army of Darth Vadery troopers and his platonic life partner Evil Lynn (THEY LIVE’s Meg Foster), but this brings up an important question. Why did somebody else make a castle shaped like a giant him? You’d think there’d be a backstory about how the castle was taken from him in the first place. Or, since he refers to the others as “the Eternians” he must be from another planet. Maybe he comes from a race of ancient astronauts who all looked like skulls and they built this castle and now he’s reclaiming it for his people.

But I guess if any of that was true he would’ve mentioned it. All he explains is, “I must possess all, or I possess nothing!” Later he’s referred to as “the Lord of Snake Mountain,” so maybe that’s the beef here. If he’s gonna get to have the skeleton castle he should have to give the snake mountain to some sort of a snake-faced man. It’s not fair if he gets both.

mp_mastersoftheuniverseThere are good guys too. Dolph plays He-Man, a half-naked muscleman. His lifestyle I guess is summed up by the sword in his right hand and the laser pistol in his left. A poser barbarian, maybe. Nobody else seems to be wearing a leather thong on this planet. He has two friends, Duncan (Jon Cypher, VALDEZ IS COMING) and Teela (Chelsea Field, THE LAST BOYSCOUT) who are also warriors, but who wear shirts and pants and stuff.

In order for Skeletor to achieve his goal of possessing everything he has to steal “The Cosmic Key,” a musical laser-cannon-looking contraption invented by a squeaky-voiced goblin dude called Gwildor (Billy Barty). But before Skeletor can get it, Gwildor randomly pushes a bunch of buttons on it, and it causes him, He-Man, Duncan and Teela to warp to another world…

OH MY GOD IT’S EARTH. That’s fuckin crazy because we live on Earth. What are the chances? Skeletor calls us a “primitive and tasteless planet,” but still it’s an honor to be included in this story.

I guess it’s kind of like THOR, because a musclebound warrior with ancient weapons plus magic plus some futuristic technology accidentally gets transported from another world to a small American town where not very many people seem to ever be outside. But instead of falling in love with an earthling He-Man just becomes acquainted with a teenage couple, Julie (Courteney Cox, SCREAM 1-4) and Kevin (Robert Duncan McNeill, Star Trek: Voyager). Julie is a waitress whose parents were recently killed in a small plane crash. This is a big day for her because tomorrow she’s leaving town forever. For Kevin it’s a big day because his girlfriend is leaving him and because he’s gonna play keyboards at the school dance. Then they get attacked by mercenaries from space looking for the Cosmic Key.

I always enjoy when mundane daily routine is suddenly invaded by inexplicable mayhem, so there’s a couple laughs here. Before they know anything out of the ordinary is going on here Kevin is doing a sound check in the school gym and he leaves Julie alone there saying, “Don’t let anyone in here except Carl.” So, not Saurod, Blade, Karg and The Beastman, then? ‘Cause that’s who shows up, a bunch of dudes in space armor with knife hands and monster faces and shit. When Carl (the gym teacher, I think?) runs into them he says, “Listen, you kids can’t just come in–”

That’s when Julie gets attacked and saved by He-Man, but Kevin isn’t there, so he gets to have a good moment in his apartment. They need to depict him in his every day life so they have him putting Burger King garbage into his sink (?) and then wiping the counter off. AND SUDDENLY THE BEASTMAN EXPLODES ROARING THROUGH THE DOOR. Like that terrible feeling of an unexpected loud knock on the door from a cop or a fireman. Actually more like a home invasion, but with fur and fangs.

One thing that’s not really covered in the movie, but maybe it’s in the cartoon: who the fuck is He-Man? What is he supposed to be? What does he do? Here he’s just a nice guy with a sword that apparently is magic, but we don’t know why he has it or what it does. He is good at sword fighting and at kicking guys. They treat him like he might be the leader, but leader of what I’m not sure. And actually he doesn’t do that much in this movie. He does save Julie from the mercenaries, but only after a good chunk of the movie where the other characters are exploring Earth and talking about it and then they cut to a couple shots of He-Man just walking around by himself. He doesn’t even have animals to talk to like The Beast Master. In another section of the movie all of them are inside a pink Cadillac for a while, and you just see shots of it driving around. It would be funny if you could see He-Man through the window, but you don’t even get that.

Then at the end he fights Skeletor and knocks him off a precipice. In fact, he doesn’t really knock him off, they just cross swords and then for some reason Skeletor falls.

If you look at the whole battle for the Cosmic Key it seems like both sides are overcomplicating things. Skeletor is trying to get the Key, but Gwildor runs off to Earth with it, so Skeletor sends the mercenaries to get it. When the mercenaries do get it instead of bringing it to Skeletor on Eternia, Skeletor comes to Earth to have a parade, then bring it to Eternia. (Everything must close down by 6 pm in this town, because nobody except the handful of main characters ever see any of this cosmic battle and parade that goes down.)

The whole point of hiding the Key was to stop him from opening up this black hole thing that turns him into Super Skeletor. But then he does get the Key, he does turn into Super Skeletor, but He-Man beats him anyway. So really that whole Earth part of the movie was a completely irrelevant tangent, a pathetic escape attempt that just wasted everybody’s time. They should’ve just given him the Key and beat him and got it over with in 10 minutes.

I guess on the positive side they did meet this teenage girl and use time travel to make her parents not die in a plane crash. But who knows what kind of butterfly effect ripples that will cause? Maybe her parents go on to become double Hitler. The whole matter of the plane crash is pretty weird. Why does Kevin keep a newspaper clipping about it laying around in his apartment? Why does Karg know that he should steal the clipping and carry it around with him? Why does Julie not seem in any way suspicious when her dead mother suddenly shows up and explains that she actually faked her death and is a secret agent and needs her to go steal the space weapon from the alien muscleman? And does Evil Lynn feel like, even though her name is Evil Lynn, that was kinda mean to pull that trick on a kid?

Writer David Odell (SUPERGIRL, THE DARK CRYSTAL) and director Gary Goddard (HERSHEY’S REALLY BIG 3D SHOW, DEEPO’S UNDERWATER 3D WONDERSHOW) may not have had much say in the basic premise, which killed this thing from the beginning. The idea of combining this fantasy world with small town America is just dumb. Imagine if instead of STAR WARS George Lucas had made a movie about Luke, Han, Chewie and Leia getting zapped to earth to befriend some teens, and the local police have to fight storm troopers and Darth Vader. I don’t know about you but I’m against it.

There’s alot of hacky humor about how Earthlings react to Eternian shit. When Kevin finds the Cosmic Key he immediately says “This is one of these new Japanese synthesizers.” Then he carries it around and “plays” it. I thought that “assuming that advanced technology must be Japanese” thing had happened in some other ’80s movie, but then I realized I was thinking of the first TRANSFORMERS.

The best is Detective Lubic (BACK TO THE FUTURE principal James Tolkan), the cop who sees He-Man and friends and keeps trying to arrest them. He explains all these battling alien warriors are a “loony fringe group” or “cultists” and says “I was in Korea. I never saw anything like this,” and “I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone or something!” but after he goes to Eternia for a brief 5-10 minute skirmish he decides on the spot just to stay there to live for now on. In the skull-shaped castle, possibly.

There are some pretty cool effects in the movie. When He-Man is flying around on a little water ski type thing it’s stop motion and if you look closely you can see that he’s pretty much posed like a He-Man action figure. It all looks really nice on blu-ray. There’s one close-up of Skeletor that made me laugh because it’s so clear that his nose is painted on black, not an actual hole. They didn’t know about hi-def when they shot this.

I also feel kinda bad for them that they had to make sense out of Skeletor. I think the cartoon guy just has an actual skull for a head, no eyes or anything. They didn’t know how to do that so they have latex makeup on Langella, but what is he? He has eyes, not sockets, but his nose looks like a nose hole. But it looks like skin, not bone. I don’t know what he is. And unfortunately Langella is not as cool as he is as Dracula. He’s doing an “evil” voice that’s not as cool as his normal one.

This is one of these movies from the ’80s that is pretty much all around bad, except for all the work in designing and building everything, but somehow the combination of effort and misguidedness makes it interesting enough to dig up and enjoy every once in a blue moon.

This entry was posted on Friday, March 8th, 2013 at 3:07 am and is filed under Fantasy/Swords, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

81 Responses to “Masters of the Universe”

  1. You bring up an interesting question: How do people, who have no idea about the whole MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE thing, react to the lack of backstory. I never really bothered that much, because I grew up on the action figures, comic books and cartoons and therefore knew that He-Man was was just wimpy Prince Adam (A Clark Kent/Superman deal, right down to the why-does-nobody-ever-notice-that-these-too-look-alike thing. Only with magic, because apparently Adam can’t just change into different clothes to become He-Man, he must use his magic sword first.). Also my mother never seemed to ask me anyway. Maybe she didn’t care or remembered that shit from when my sister and I told her about it or caught this when seeing snippets of the cartoon with us. I don’t know.

    DEGREES OF ROBERT DUNCAN MCNEILL: He directed a few years ago an episode of CHUCK (he was also a producer on it), in which Dolph was guest starring. Unfortunately it was more some kind of stunt casting deal, where Dolph never does anything special. It was kinda cool to see him getting murdered by Linda Hamilton, though (spoiler).

    Also Chelsea Field (TeeLa) is the wife of Scott Bakula, who also appeared in several episodes of CHUCK and was of course the captain in ENTERPRISE, which had McNeill sitting on the director’s chair for a few episodes.

  2. Yep, a pretty terrible movie. Saw it in ’88 or so, and although it is rubbish, I think Frank Langella makes a very good job of Skeletor – he seems to be having a good time and has some good lines (or at least he delivers some bad lines really well – the ‘Everything comes to he who waits’ seems to have stuck with me over the years). Frank Langella has a track record of being good in awful movies – look at Dawg in CUTTTHROAT ISLAND – ‘I love this, I LOVE IT!!!’ I am kind of interested in the clash of proper sword and sorcery and lasers though – it could have been interesting. I keep expecting a reboot.

    But this was awful. Any film that has a headband of truth is awful in my book. It was worth them making the movie for your reference to Double Hitler, though.

  3. BTW the original ending featured the sorceress telling Courtney Cox the secret of Eternia: IT’S ACTUALLY EARTH IN A FAR AWAY FUTURE!!!! (At least in that version. In the comics and cartoon, it was just another planet.)

    One thing that is interesting about the German dubbing, is that Lubic is much more of a comic relief character here, constantly saying things like: “Throw your heads away and put your hands over your weapons. No, the other way around.”

  4. I gave this a shot last year, when I pretty much went through Dolph’s whole career. Not at the top of my list, but excactly at the bottom either.

  5. ‘the combination of effort and misguidedness makes it interesting enough to dig up and enjoy every once in a blue moon’ is a SUPER-PERCEPTIVE comment.

    This is one I think that you’d LIKE to have a soft spot for, but every time you throw it on for a look, it just doesn’t give you enough in return. Super Mario Bros is in the same category / era etc.

    G Goddard’s commentary is cute though… he’s quite taken with the whole thing, and still has regrets over a few cuts and FX. Find peace Gary!

  6. Havent seen it since 1987. All I can remember about it is not being able to understand a single fucking word that Dolph Ludgren said.

  7. Can’t say that I ever watched the Masters of the Universe show. Even though I loved Star Wars as a kid, the mix of sci-fi and fantasy bothered me. My time in front of the television was also severely restricted, so I had to really pick and choose what I wanted to watch. Half naked dudes fighting skeletons just didn’t make the cut.

  8. Funniest review I’ve read for this movie so far! Loved it how you pointed out all the nonsensical things the film has, I guess translating a silly cartoon into a movie is no small feat, but I always asked myself the same questions, who the hell is he-man and why does everyone look at him as some sort of leader? I guess he is some sort of local super hero, Skeletor is afraid to kill him because they’ll turn him into a martyr, so I guess He-Man is kind of like Eternia’s Che Guevara or something.

    I always thought it was strange how suddenly Luvic wants to stay in Eternia, right out of the blue ha ha….and he sits on the throne of Castle Greyskull…what the hell!

    Laughed out loud with your comment on Eternians being vegeterians. “Ugh! What a Barbaric world!” ha ha….

    True, what the hell is skeletor? The thing with this movie is that every character is so different that they all seem to come from a different planet, yet they all ended up in Eternia somehow! Agree the film did a bad job of explaining origins…I hope they fix this in the proposed upcoming He-Man movie which is in development hell as we speak. I truly hope they unearth Masters of the Universe and give it a proper film.

    But, for all its badness, Masters of the Universe is still fun as hell and has some amusing FX work, Langella is the best thing about it for me though!

  9. A perfect companion piece movie for this would be the first TMNT movie, both produced at a completely different time in Hollywood relating to so-called “properties” than if this was made now. To call this “cheap” would be an understatement. Then again G&G cheapened out the fourth (atrocious) SUPERMAN* movie which was part of an otherwise pretty successful (if uneven) franchise up to that point so why shouldn’t I be surprised?

    *=Black curtains used for “Outer Space” on that Moon scene. One of those things that once you notice, you can’t unnotice it.

  10. RRA, add the Garbage Pail Kids movie to that list. Fits the criteria perfectly: cheaply made, relies on people knowing a fair amount about the original property, shitty acting and writing, and just a total mess.

  11. I saw this shit in the theater. Lil Majestyk’s tiny brain had to do some backflips to reconcile whatever the hell this was with the TV show, of which I was a big fan, but I managed to enjoy them both. I was not cool with them substituting Orko for Gwildor, but since Courtney Cox was my first crush (not from this, from her recurring role as Alex’s girlfriend on FAMILY TIES) I forgave it. I mean, lasers are pretty rad, no matter the context. This is science.

    One thing gives me pause now that I’ve got a few more decades under my belt. So Cox’s character is about to leave her tiny, uninhabited small town at the beginning of the movie, right? She’s presumably off to do big things, follow her dreams, etc. But then He-Man brings her parents back to life, so she stays, because how could she even think about leaving them now after being without them for so long? She probably marries Kevin, who sticks with his music thing for a few more years before grunge comes along and now nobody wants a keyboardist in their band anymore. So he gets a job selling insurance and immediately starts drinking a lot, getting melancholy, pining for the good old days when he was a rock star. Sometimes he breaks out the old Casio late at night and plunks out a few power chords, but they just don’t sound the same anymore. Cox keeps waitressing for a while, then maybe goes to beauty school, starts doing hairdressing, makeup for weddings, that kind of thing. She keeps her figure even after the twins, but Kevin packs on the pounds, sitting in front of the TV every night, becoming real incommunicative. Twenty years go by, and Cox’s dad has passed on. Her mom is in a home, her mind not really all there anymore. And while Cox is grateful for all the extra time she had with her parents thanks to her Eternian allies, part of her can’t help but wonder: Is this right? Is this the way things were supposed to play out? She was supposed to leave this town, to strike out on her own, to see what this big old world has to offer. And instead she’s stuck here with a chubby ex-keyboardist and a crazy story about a beefy Swede from outer space that nobody believes, her good looks going to waste on a town with no people to appreciate them. When she thinks about who she could have been, some deep, hidden, but undeniable part of her resents her parents for being alive. And she hates herself for it.

  12. You missed my favorite part of this movie, which is at the end of the credits where they show Skeletor pop up out of the water and say to camera “I’ll be back!” This is the first time I can ever remember a movie having an extra scene at the end of the credits, which now seems to be pretty standard on super hero type movies. So, it’s really interesting that you compared this to Thor. I think we can chalk this up to another similarity they share. Here’s the scene, by the way:


  13. ANoniMouse – Basically, yup. Though TMNT I’ll still argue surprised me when I rewatched it some years back with a well-directed opening. That’s the mean thing, it actually tricks you into thinking you’re getting a decent movie. Then the Turtles show up in their full glory….nevermind.

    Mr. Majestyk – your memory reminds me of my experience with SUPER MARIO BROS. Like gee I don’t remember the games being about Mario getting warped to below the Earth (or other dimensions, I can’t remember) and fighting his way out of a dinosaur-dominated dystopia city. In fact the whole enterprise reeks of being a completely unrelated sci-fi movie, that then after the fact shoehorned SMB references.

    You know, we live in a Golden Age of Comic Book Movies. Big talent and big money are behind these movies now, and you know what? For the most part, you can expect them to be usually decent. Sure you still get GREEN LANTERNs, but that happens. Video game-movies are still stuck in the old days of CBMs like SPAWN or whatever. When will those fans get their day in the sun?

    (Also bravo Mr. M on your fan fiction.)

    RJ_MacReady – I have problems with THOR, but at the least its a competent, watchable movie. I can rewatch that again and enjoy it. MOTU can only be digested on a bad movie level.

  14. Isn’t “Saurod, Blade, Karg and The Beastman” a Bob Dylan song? I think it’s on “Shot of Love” or something.

  15. Coincidentally these are also the names of my ex-girlfriends.

  16. No Mr. Subtlety, that song was on one of the Traveling Wilburies albums.

  17. The henchman that looks like some kind of mutant sheep-man really freaked me the fuck out when I was a kid, that thing seriously gave me nightmares for months. I dunno why, it’s funny the things that affect you when you’re young. You never forget that stuff either.

  18. Now that I think about this, is kind of more of a reverse FLASH GORDON, with the aliens actually being the heroes on earth and humans just being hangers on. Also, some really questionable moments for a kids movie at times, like Skeletor enjoying watching He-Man getting whipped in front of him just a BIT too much.

    Speaking of Langella, I saw him in ROBOT AND FRANK today, which is a nice little bittersweet gem, and he’s fantastic in it

  19. Stu – Nothing beats the villain making the heroine have an orgasm in the middle of the Outer Space Royal Court.

    I get what you’re saying, but FLASH GORDON is ridiculously goofy on purpose. MOTU was just incompetence.

  20. Oh my gosh Vern, you didn’t really rip this movie a new one! You liked it. You’re such a nerd. I knew there was a reason I liked you.

  21. The He-Man cartoon was always unsettling to me because I couldn’t (and still don’t) understand the relationship between technology and magic in Eternia.

    They always seem to have a lot of tech, weird jet packs and lasers and such, yet the principals (or their familiars) can all do magic so what’s the point? If you can just magick yourself through time and space why bother with having a tank/troop carrier? I guess you sell more toys that way but the production design seemingly totally unregulated and they could roll in any weird thing at will (so for most kids I guess this was a good thing).

    The only thing I remember from the film is a good example of this. The bad guys have a video scanner thing that shows what happened back in time when you point it at something: pretty cool gadget! But they’re pretty accomplished witches and wizards right? Couldn’t they just cast a spell and achieve the same thing?

    I’m sort of old-school sci-fi and really enjoy films that take the time to build worlds and establish logical rules for the characters to follow. Fantasy and magic often (not always) ignore such rules and as such are inconsistent with regard to what’s possible in these worlds and it really bugs me.

    He-Man tries to have it both ways, it’s like a toy based experiment in cognitive dissonance. Exhibit A: muscle-bound skeleton. Etc etc. Yes this still keeps me up at night.

  22. Vern, top fucking form on this review! The “double Hitler” line had me on the floor.

  23. I think Majestyk’s fan fic is being turned into an independant film by Sam Mendes with Dicaprio to star as the aging keyboardist. He’s gaining weight for the role as we read this. Wonder who they got to play Cox’s character?

  24. Vern, you missed an opportunity to credit Courtenay Cox for that Bruce Springsteen video.

  25. Amazing. Just yesterday I was looking to see if Vern ever reviewed MOTU, and was disappointed he hadn’t.

  26. Frank Langella’s line reading of “Everything comes to he who waits” has stuck with me, too, for over 20 years.

  27. The Original... Paul

    March 9th, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    This cartoon, and the one about the ancient Egyptian kid who goes into space (anybody remember what that was called?) were the ones I mainly watched. “Thundercats” I enjoyed, but I hardly ever watched it. Never liked “Transformers”.

    I can only echo everyone’s comments about the film, including Vern’s. Who on earth thought it would be a good idea to set it on Earth? It’s the usual experience when watching a Dolph movie that isn’t “Universsal Soldier: Regeneration” or “Blackjack” or even “Rocky 4” – you gotta think that the guy has SO much more talent than he’s been given an opportunity to show in some of the movies he’s been in.

  28. Still waiting for a MASK movie. (Stacy Keach IS Miles Mayhem!)

  29. Or Thundercats, if they can keep the furry-bait to a minimum.

  30. Yeah, that’s just not possible in a world where Cheetara exists.


  31. Thundercats was easily my favorite 80s saturday morning cartoon, it also had the greatest beginning credits of all time. Paul are you thinking of Ulysses 31? That cartoon was fucked up in all the right ways. Also Uma Thurman circa Kill Bill would’ve made a great Cheetara.

  32. Now they’ll just have to give it to whoever’s next on the list after Scarlett Johansson and Jennifer Lawrence say no.

  33. I always hated it in the cartoons when they would capture one of the bad guys and then let him go because they didn’t want to sink to his level. What? How is that any kind of message to send to kids? It’s okay to let the bad guys go so they can keep doing bad things because we don’t want to be mean. Um, okay. Whenever I see this in anything I refer to it as the He-Man Maneuver.

  34. Did He-Man ever settle down and get married, and if so, was his wife called She-Man?

    Had a couple of the action figures when I was a kid. Some random henchman who looked like the creature from the black lagoon. His name was Fish head or something, probably.

    Had Man At Arms too, He-Man’s pal.

    All in all, two utterly pointless action figures, but you could have them fight until MASK came along. Never bothered with the film. I want to seek it out now.

  35. I thought He-Man’s squeeze was She-Ra, so you’re not far off, Jimbolo.

    There are a few cartoons that I’m nostalgic enough for that I would actually go see their movie remakes in the theaters. I’ve always thought that the short lived Exo Squad cartoon would make a decent movie, and probably sell a few toys.

  36. EW! She-Ra was his sister! Unless Eternia is like Deliverance in space, I don’t think they’re getting together. (I would absolutely watch Space Deliverance.)

    I’m still waiting for my Jem movie, dammit!!

  37. She-Ra was He-Man’s sister? I had no idea. I guess this accounts for their similar names. Like I said, I never really watched the cartoon. I just assumed it was a Buster Bunny/Babs Bunny situation.

  38. She-Ra was his sister? My action figures have got some explaining to do…

  39. Oh come on, don’t tell me I and ANoniMouse are the only people who saw THE SECRET OF THE SWORD, which explains the whole relationship between He-Man and She-Ra. (And I wonder if Vern will ever dare to review this Filmation production. Just to fill his knowledge gap concerning He-Man [or…confuse him even more in that regard])

  40. When I was a kid I got bombarded with an absolute shit-ton of He-Man toys one Christmas, and even though I was more into Thundercats I wasn’t complaining since I got one of pretty much every figure/vehicle/playset that existed at the time. I didn’t find out until like 20 years later that it was because my dad and his work colleagues (he was in the police) liberated a warehouse full of this stuff and they decided to help themselves to much of the evidence.

  41. The father of a friend of mine also was a policeman. He always had lots of free cigarettes and Ninja weapons lying around in his house.

  42. He’ll, yeah, CJ! I was a big He-Man fan as a little girl. I still have She-Ra’s horse and gave it to my boys. I loved that She-Ra was raised by the bad guys on her planet. Overall, though, I preferred the Sorceress and Terla to any of the ladies from She-Ra, I only ever had He-Man and She-Ra figures.

    My boys just don’t like He-Man, although they love old-school Looney Tunes and some other classic cartoons, so I can’t complain!

  43. That should say Teela. Damn auto-correct.

  44. CJ – Now you mention it, my dad quit smoking around the same time he retired from the police. Maybe he decided that smoking gets way too expensive when you actually have to buy the cigarettes.

  45. He’d be right too- a pack of 20 costs like £8 in the UK these days. It’s fucking ridiculous.

  46. Isn’t everything in the UK more expensive though? And not that i smoke but a pack of Kools will run $5.25. You’re getting ripped off!

  47. Every time you guys talk about She-Ra I have to laugh. A friends dad always called his ex-wife She-Ra queen of the bitch people.

  48. Dang, the UK is even pricier than New York. I don’t buy smokes regularly but I seem to remember the last one being in the neighborhood of $14.

  49. I used to fool myself by just buying packs of 10. They must be close to £5 by now. I quit soon after going to Gibraltar. £1.50 for a pack of 20, no tax! When my stocks ran out, so did my habit.

  50. Hey, She-ra, I forgot about her. My cousin got one of the other figures for Christmas. It was one of the villains introduced later on (I think, I dunno). A big bumblebee guy called (seriously) Buzz Off. Not Bee Man, but Buzz Off. Ha ha. Shite. My cousin was gutted. I think he wanted Ram Man.

    Did you ever notice that the figures were really bandy legged? Did Dolph stay true to the toys and waddle around like John Wayne with a severe haemorrhoid issue.

  51. Shit, I remember Buzz Off! Also Mattell really had the guts to sell two action figures, that stank like shit: Moos Man and – obviously- Stinkor. Although Moos Man didn’T really smell like shit. He just had a very strong odor, that made me feel seriously sick when I played too long with him.

  52. The Original... Paul

    March 10th, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Mode 7 – Ulysses, that’s it! I loved that show. I really liked Thundercats as well, but it was on at the wrong time for me to watch it.

  53. Ulysses, Ulysses, going through all the galaxies.

    CJ. That is a joke, isn’t it? Moos Man? Stinkor?!

  54. Didn’t care for He-Man growing up, but hell even I knew She-Ra was his sibling. (or maybe I know now after getting refreshed by Nostalgia Chick?) I don’t remember ever actually seeing Thundercats.

    What I loved growing up was G.I. Joe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Transformers. Others that immediately come to mind are Toxic Crusaders* and Centurions. (Anybody remember Centurions? Basically a Transformers/G.I. Joe rip-off, but in a creative way. Guys in jump suits with holes or sockets which then any gizmo and weapon could be transported onto those suits like a plane or tank or whatever. OK not creative, but its a simple yet rich aesthetics pitch. Also Jack Kirby according to wikipedia actually contributed designs and concepts for it. That is cool.)

    *=Troma has been putting those episodes for free up on YouTube lately, and god damnit I’m a fan again. As a kid I consumed it at face value as yet another action figure-selling commercial, if creative with the freaks designed from of course the Toxic Avenger (not fucking or mutilating anybody here though). My favorite character back then was the mutated guy with two heads, one a stereotypical surfer and the other a stereotypical mad scientist.

    But rewatching them, Toxic Crusaders is actually fucking witty, pretty self-aware of what the show is and cracks jokes all the time about the inevitable cliches. And even the dumb jokes are funny.

    *Henchmen plant 4 palm trees.*

    Dr. Killemoff: “That’s all you could foliage?!?”
    Henchman: “Yeah boss, sorry we tried our best. They don’t exactly grow on trees.”

  55. Oh and I forgot another favorite from my childhood, that I’m actually a fan of again: EXTREME GHOSTBUSTERS. I know me and CJ have nerded over that one before in these comments, but man that empty void I had in my heart after being disapointed with GHOSTBUSTERS 2, well that show was the real sequel for me. Fun, creative, surprisingly intelligently-written (by future nerd hero JMS), and the show fully exploits that basic pitch’s full potential of variety.

  56. Fuck, apologies. I meant the THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS. I don’t know why I had the sequel/spin-off series in my head. (I liked that one too though.)

  57. I was a 90’s kid (born in 1989, another summer), so all these 80’s cartoons like He-Man, TMNT, GI Joe and Transformers were before my time (though I did watch Thundercats, which got some Toonami airtime) and they all seem so damn cheesy to me, give me Ren and Stimpy any day, as a kid I always preferred my cartoons funny, if I wanted action and excitement I would watch a live action movie like Raiders of The Lost Ark, Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park, the 90’s were too politically correct for a cartoon to be legitimately exciting (which is I why I flipped for Dragon Ball Z, a show where people would sometimes actually die, the Japanese don’t even know the meaning of the term politically correct)

    I mean I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade, I understand as well as anybody how powerful a force nostalgia is, but true animation buffs consider the 70’s and 80’s to be basically the dark ages for (western) animation, with very rare exceptions (Don Bluth and Ralph Bakshi being chief among them)

  58. A short making-of documentary about Masters Of The Universe:

    They have a interesting explanation for the underwhelming final confrontation and some other problems of the movie.

  59. I’m so glad you brought up the Burger King trash in the sink. Even when I was a kid, that confused the hell out of me. Maybe they’re too poor to afford trash service so they just force all their garbage down the sink disposal? I dunno…80’s, man.

    Surprised you didn’t bring up the goofiest scene, where Billy Barty uses a grappling hook to steal a bucket of fried chicken out of the backseat of a couple who are making out in the parking lot of a fast food place for some reason. I guess you did point out that Eternia is a vegetarian planet, as evidenced by Teela’s grossed-out reaction upon learning that the chicken was made of what “used to be an animal.” Yet her dad, Man-at-Arms, seems really excited and happy to be eating it, as if it’s something he used to do…I guess maybe he’s the veteran of some earlier Eternian war where they were under siege or something and forced to eat the pets. Or each other. Either way, it’s kind of disconcerting to see how into the fried chicken he is.

    On the blu-ray, is it more obvious how Blade dies? From what I remember, he just sort of charges at He-Man in the middle of the final fracas and falls or something, then we never see him again. Maybe they kept him alive so he can fight the Wesley Snipes Blade in a cross-over movie at some later date.

  60. Griff – Hey I was a 90s kids too, but somehow I was able to enjoy the best of both times.

    Speaking of 1990s PC, how did this get pass the daytime cartoon censors?


  61. Jimbolo – I was one of the proud owners of Stinkor and will never forget the smell. A few days ago I’ve stumpled upon a similar aroma when I’ve opened my Death Proof Special Edition DVD for the first time in years. The DVD is supposed to smell like gasoline if you rub it, but that never really worked.

  62. My childhood spanned both decades, but somehow I always enjoyed the 1990s cartoons a lot more than the 80s. Does anyone remember Swat Kats? It was about two anthropomorphic cats that fly a freakin’ souped up jet. It was pretty amazing. The entire world was made up of cats (but only the really cool cats spelled it with a “k”). So it wasn’t like these cat monsters saving humans, or anything. Anyway, the jet was cool.

    Also, I don’t know about how PC the 90s were, at least when it came to violence. I remember being pissed off, even as a kid, that the soldiers in GI Joe would always somehow run to safety. But by the mid-90s, The Batman Animated Series could get away with using real guns rather than the lame laser guns every villain had in the 80s. But of course, once you bring in Japanese cartoons, there’s no question that they could get away with a lot more.

  63. “Does anyone remember Swat Kats?”

    oh yes, I do as a matter of fact! that was made during the Hanna Barbera studios revival that was going on in the 90’s, they also had a Johnny Quest reboot that was actually pretty damn awesome too from what I remember and I seem to be the only one that remembers it at all (by the way, I wonder how many Furries Swat Kats is responsible for creating?)

    and yeah, Batman TAS destroys any 80’s cartoon, I’ll go to bat for that (no pun intended)

  64. Griff – is Batman TAS the greatest American animated non-sitcom TV series ever?

    Just maybe.

    RBatty024 – Don’t forget also in GI JOE, how every jet blown up the pilot always able to parachute away to safety just in time.

  65. I think the 90’s were subversive in ways that people tend to forget. Tiny Toons and Animaniacs both had some subtle and not-so-subtle moments that resonate with me more as an adult in a similar way that the old-school Looney Toons and Mac Fleischer cartoons do. (Huge Betty Boop fan, way before the junky oversaturated comeback of the late 90’s.) Ren and Stimpy, as well as Power Puff Girls, are slightly more obvious in their disregard for the PC, but I think the early Rugrats episodes have a lot to say (often quite critically) about modern notions of childhood, parenting, and the concept of family.

    And Batman TAS is one of, if not the best, animated series ever. I was in junior high and high school during the early years, and the depictions of the Scarecrow would give me nightmares.

  66. I honestly didn’t hate this movie. I liked the action and the costumes, and people like to call it ‘the best Jack Kirby FOURTH WORLD movie we’ll get’.

  67. ANoniMouse – the best cartoons were subversive, but there were still a lot of cartoons in the 90’s that were extremely PC, you know the type, they always had characters of every race and sometimes even a kid in a wheelchair because hey, why not? disabled is a race, right?

    I always hated that kind of shit as a kid because it felt so patronizing and phony

    and with rare exceptions like Batman TAS 90’s “action” cartoons were still pretty damn sanitized, that’s why so many kids of my generation went crazy for anime, here was animation that could have actual stakes, I mean even freakin’ Pokemon had to be politically corrected for American kids

    I’ve always been a pretty big animation fan of any kind and as I got older and learned more about anime it just clicked for me, it was like “yeah, why shouldn’t animation be allowed to be more than just “for kids”?”, as much as I love Disney, it is a great shame that they created the stereotype in the west that animation is only for kids instead of being just another medium to tell any story

    p.s. now that I think about it it’s pretty damn ironic that for how politically correct the 90’s my generation was the one that had video games like the Grand Theft Auto series

  68. Oh, I know those cartoons. Too many kid and teen live action shows were like that, too, all the while peddling in some of the worst “inoffensive” racial and gender stereotypes out there. I recall watching Beverly Hills Teens and the episode that made me stop watching that kind of crap: it was an episode about a beauty contest where the villain of the group was trying to get a girl to binge eat and miss the weight goal for entering the contest, all the while focusing on how bad cheating was while encouraging eating disorders and portraying an unattainable body image (I will never forget that the character had to weigh no more than 110 pounds.)

  69. I had to google Moos Man too, because I figured it was going to be a Cow action figure with evil udders or something, but couldn’t find anything about it. Then I realised it was Moss Man. Here he is:


    The guy needs to trim those pubes.

  70. Whoops, sorry for the typo or whatever. “Moos” is German for “Moss”, so that’s where I got that from.

  71. RRA, Griff

    A strange bit of synchronicity – I am right this second reaading a book that is basically an interview with Bruce Timm, talking about how he got into art/animation, etc. He worked on Filmation stuff like Blackstarr and He-Man and also Bakshi stuff like Mighty Mouse then went on to Warner’s and Tiny Toons and Batman. I never thought I would encounter much of that stuff again, much less all of it it in one place. And then somebody goes and mentions Jack Kirby’s Fourth World, which was an inspiration for Timm’s (and others) Superman series.

    You get everything here. Everything. Gosh darn it.

  72. I remember during the hype for Frost/Nixon, some interviewer was trying to be a funny guy by derisively mentioning Masters of the Universe in an interview with Frank Langella. Langella, ever the gentleman, pointed out that he learned alot about physical acting and technique by playing Skeletor, and that you learn SOMETHING from every acting job you do, and he honestly feels there might be a little bit of Skeletor in his portrayal of Nixon. I thought that was a very classy move by Langella and yeah, he’s great in this movie.

    Also, not to bring up the old “practical effects are better than CG!” trope that gets said in every online board, but certain shots of Skeletor’s big hovering Skiff thing are pretty impressive. It’s like “whoa they actually built that thing!”

  73. neal2zod – Well Langella was backed up by the fact that he’s an Oscar-nominated, respected actor. He can politely tell such people to fuck off. I’m sure Gary Oldman would do the same if someone brought up LOST IN SPACE.

  74. Yeah, Langella can go mega with the best of them when he wants. One of my favorite little bits of his is in THE NINTH GATE when he’s SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER burning to death but he’s so convinced that he’s become immortal that he keeps laughing diabolically…until the pain kicks in and he realizes how badly he’s fucked up. A great and goofy gamut of over-the-top emoting that not even some really dodgy fire effects (are there any other kind?) can ruin.

  75. One of my favourite Langella roles is in Mel Brooks’ THE 12 CHAIRS. He is pretty much the straight man in this one, but I love how he plays his character like a serious drama role, without forgetting that he is still in a comedy. (I don’t think that anybody in the history of film ever yelled “MEEEEEEEEEEEERDE!” funnier than him.)

  76. The original ending was NOT that Eternia was really Earth in the future… it was that the Eternians were ancient Earth astronauts from the year 2221, who crashed on Eternia and then settled there. He-Man says that the Starfinder 5 crashed on Eternia 1000 years ago, so their adventures take place sometime in the early 3000s.

    This is discussed in the actual movie comic book, which retained the original ending of the film. You can find at the following link: http://s57.photobucket.com/albums/g220/sallah4life/marvelcomics/The%20Motion%20Picture/?action=view&current=44.jpg

  77. I didn’t realize Jon Chu was attached to direct the new He-Man movie. Anyway, he wants a Lundgren cameo.



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