Oh come on, you knew Zechs was going to buy and review this the moment it was announced.
Castle Grayskull has fallen. Skeletor has won. He-Man, Teela, and Man-At-Arms are on the run. The heroes' journey will send them from the throne room of the great castle of Eternia to a new world: ours. There, the battle between good and evil resumes with control of the universe hanging in the balance.
You're in either of two camps about this movie: hate or love. If you hate it, it's due to a wide variety of reasons. There's no Battle-Cat, Orko, Trap-Jaw, and various other Masters of the Universe characters. It is the total opposite of the original Filmation cartoon series. The film reeks of Hollywood meddling.
I could go on, but alas, I'm in the other camp. I love this film. This film was made in the late 1980s, not in the early 90s or now. I accept the so called flaws given it was an era before computer generated effects and the meddling from Hollywood that they had with the film. The characters that don't appear? Dead weight to me. All the key Masters of the Universe characters are in this film: He-Man, Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, Man-At-Arms, Teela, Beast Man, and the Sorceress of Grayskull.
Why am I so biased for this film? When I watch this film I see a passion and love here. I see actual work done with the set design, score, parts of the script, and character design. There is a deep appreciation for the property and trying to bring it out of the campy universe that originated in Filmation. This is a movie that can be appreciated by young and old. One that cannot and probably won't be made ever again. There's also a love for the work of Jack Kirby with the sets, costumes, plot points, and effects, as if something the King himself had created. These are all just small reasons why I love this film.
But of course all these reasons are me shying away from the greatest one. One I already said point blank in my Top 10 Most Underrated Villains of Comic Movies: Frank Langella as Skeletor. I'll say it again: this role by this actor. Langella's performance of Skeletor is cinematic villainy at it's absolute finest. Dropping the ridiculous “NYAAAAH!”, Langella's version commands your attention and by the first seconds of his appearance, you'll be glued into watching it. You won't forget the role by the end of this movie.
There are other highlights of the film, though. Dolph Lundgren is serviceable as He-Man and when he delivers THE line at the film's climax any true fan of this property will probably have the biggest grin on their face. There are portions of the cast that don't work, but other parts of the cast deliver some awesome character roles. Namely, James Tolken as the asshole/kick ass cop Lubic, Billy Barty as Gwildor, a VERY young Courtney Cox as Julie, Jon Cypher as Man-At-Arms, and Meg Foster as Evil-Lyn (who also chews the scenery equally when Langella isn't on screen with her). All of them give some nice performances in their own right. However, this movie is Langella's show. Though you will enjoy the other performances, it'll be Langella's Skeletor you'll remember by the end of this film.
5 out of 5
Picture Transfer & Sound Quality
Probably the reason some bought this movie, including myself. Well I have some good and bad news. The bad news is the audio of the movie is done on a simplistic 2.0 scale. We don't even get a 5.1 Dolby version of the film, which blows. You'd think Warner Brothers would have given a better audio transfer, but that's not the case, which is one of many marks against this release.
However, the good news is the transfer is great. One can really appreciate more the texture of the sets and the character design work more. Whenever Saurod, Karg, Gwlidor, Man-At-Arms, and Skeletor's various Robotic soldiers show up, you'll just pause and gawk at how awesome they look.
For the best example of this, I'll go with Karg. I really wasn't a fan of the character of Karg myself. Though on this transfer the make-up and effects really stand out more and do make me appreciate the character more. The same goes for poor Saurod, who is just an awesomely designed character who checked out of the film way too early.
If there's any negative, it is that there are moments when there's a black blur which occurs at the fight in the junk yard and when the Masters cruise to the music shop. Surprisingly, this issue never surfaces when Skeletor is on screen. Perhaps Langella's will as Skeletor commands the transfer to be absolutely perfect whenever he's on screen. I'll go with that wonky theory thank you very much.
Picture: 4 out of 5
Sound: 2 out of 5
If you bought the 20th Anniversary Edition of this film, than I have some bad news for you. That version has more extras than this one. Yes, the only difference between this version and the previous regular DVD one is a simple cast credit list. No new commentary track. You get the same one the 20th Anniversary release had (the film's director Gary Goddard).Other than that it's the same exact load of “special features” which I think is a load of bull.
If you look well enough on the web, there's a ton of extras that could and SHOULD have been on this disc. The storyboards of various scenes (which I've been posting in this review) SHOULD have been included in this. A ten minute portion of a documentary called TOY MASTERS, details the hurdles Goddard had to overcome in making this film isn't included either. No digital copy of the comic Marvel (or DC I forget which) made when the movie originally came out. Nothing, not a single drop of appreciation. Just a bare bones movie, which just sucks. I know the bad reputation this movie gets, but at the very least it should have gotten a bit more extras put into it. This just screams "simple cash in." The fans who love this movie deserve more than the cheap scraps thrown at them.
0 out of 5
If you own the 20th Anniversary Edition really, I say keep it and wait. The only worthy feature here is the movie itself on Blu-Ray. Even with the flaws that came about because Warner Brothers decided to be idiots, the movie and transfer are for the most part pretty good. I'd say the only reason to buy this film is if you're like me, and that you cherish the film for what it is. That you look past the faults and look at the magic this film is. Oh, plus just sit and watch one of the greatest cinema villains of all time just do his thing.
3 out of 5
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About the Author - Zechs
Zechs is the lord and master of The Toy Shed, Character Spotlight, and Cartoon Reviews. He's also an aspiring comic book writer trying to get some of his works published on the Outhouse. If there's any greater quality to Zechs, it's that he's an avid fan of comic book characters and would defend them to the bitter end against the companies that use them wrongly. Zechs walks the lonely path in Chicagoland area.
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