Masters of the Universe


Masters of the Universe

Critics Consensus

Masters of the Universe is a slapdash adaptation of the He-Man mythos that can't overcome its cynical lack of raison d'etre, no matter how admirably Frank Langella throws himself into the role of Skeletor.



Total Count: 23


Audience Score

User Ratings: 48,701
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Movie Info

Dolph Lundgren stars in this live-action film version of the popular television cartoon series (based on a collection of Mattel action figures). Lundgren is He-Man, a well-muscled super-hero, battling the evil Skeletor (Frank Langella) for control of the universe. Skeletor has designs on conquering the planet Eternia, a ravaged utopia ruled over by the Sorceress of Greyskull Castle (Christina Pickles). He-Man is summoned to stop Skeletor's plans. But when the wily dwarf Gwildor (Billy Barty) utilizes his Cosmic Key, He-Man and Skeletor finds themselves transported to California. There, a waitress named Julie (Courteney Cox) and her boyfriend Kevin (Robert Duncan Mitchell) come across the Cosmic Key and become embroiled in the intergalactic battle between He-Man and Skeletor.

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Critic Reviews for Masters of the Universe

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (8)

  • Everyone knows how the battles will turn out. It`s what`s between them that raises Masters Of The Universe ever so slightly above the mediocre.

    Jul 11, 2014 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • With Masters of the Universe -- the latest numbskull entertainment from the creators of Castle Greyskull -- He-Man makes the transition from animation to live action. Taking a live actor along for the ride might have helped.

    Jul 11, 2014 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…
  • A misfiring, underdone epic that takes its inspiration not from life or literature, but from a toy line and the cartoon series it inspired.

    Jul 11, 2014 | Full Review…
  • If nothing else, we can probably thank Lundgren for ensuring that there will be no more Rambo movies in the near future because he has obviously depleted the world supply of body grease.

    Jul 11, 2014 | Full Review…
  • The result is a colossal bore.

    May 13, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Top Critic
  • There are lots of flashes and bangs, but the effects are neither special nor camp enough to be more than vaguely amusing.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Masters of the Universe

  • Jun 03, 2016
    I watched it with friends, so forgive me; 2 stars may be a tad generous. But with the right company, you might not feel like you wasted your time!
    Jeff L Super Reviewer
  • Jan 22, 2013
    What were they thinking?!!! I remember as a kid even thinking that this was piss-poor and re-watching it as an adult hasn't improved things. At least Lundgren looks the part of He-Man but acting-wise he is wooden and just plain boring. Also he keeps using a gun! I seem to remember in the cartoon that He-Man only used his sword. That's cheating! Courtney Cox, how did you recover from this to have a sucessful career later on? She's terrible here and also very irritating. No-one should be proud of being involved in this mess and thank god the sequel never happened. Dolph, you do NOT have the power! Avoid, avoid, avoid!
    David S Super Reviewer
  • May 05, 2012
    By the power of Greyskull! Masters of the Universe is a fun piece of '80s camp filled with action and adventure. The film re-envisions the series as a sci-fi epic; the battle for Eternia between He-Man and the evil Skeletor spills over to Earth after Skeletor orchestrates a daring sneak attack by using the Cosmic Key. Dolph Lundgen and Frank Langella lead the cast, which also includes Courtney Cox and James Tolkan. The acting is a bit rough, but visually it's a stunning film. The costumes and sets integrate fantasy and science fiction aesthetics exceptionally well. And the filmmakers really commit this universe, creating an entire mythos and technobabble for Eternia. While it has its issues and is a bit cheesy, Masters of the Universe delivers an entertaining adventure.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • May 02, 2012
    Oh my how delicious is this piece of 80's panto, some of the best badly adapted hokey nonsense I've seen, yet somehow its so damn good. Where to start! this really is your typical fantasy film of the era, every cliche every funny little niche is here as you would expect and the funny thing is it was actually meant to be a blockbuster. I have since found out there were many problems in creating this film and it does show some what, the film is really nothing like the original He-Man cartoon in any way. Effects wise this sorta stumbles through with some interesting ideas, some of the makeup is actually quite good, Skeletor, Beast Man and Saurod all have pretty nice makeup appliances and costumes which fit the He-Man universe. Other effects are laughably terrible with some awful bluescreen work, nasty models of which most seem ripped straight outta 'Star Wars', faded poor laser blast effects and some of the most hilariously bad stunts and fight choreography you will see. Most kicks and punches clearly (and I mean CLEARLY) don't make their intended contacts. The cast are actually a mix of decent character actors which is the funny thing, some of these performances saved the film and gave it cult status. Of course Langella as Skeletor is the co de gra of cheesy villains with his snarling voice and bellowing cries lusting for power. For me the best and most amusing performance was James Tolkan as the no nonsense cop Lubic with his sharp tongue, gotta love that guy and his baldness. Along for the ride is steady character actor Jon Cypher, fantasy actor regular Billy Barty, Meg Foster as the quite sexual Evil-Lyn in her lovely tight barbarian-esq outfit with luscious lips (oh yeah!) and last of all Courtney Cox, yes THAT Courtney Cox of 'Friends' fame and as you would expect she's still annoying as hell even back then. So yes the film is practically a joke with its Punch and Judy style and completely awful effects, fights etc...but it has gained a lot of notoriety for just that. Even when I saw this back as a kid I knew the film bared no resemblance to the original material, it always bewildered me why the creators thought to create new bad guys when there were so many rich villains to use, who the hell was Blade, Karg and Saurod suppose to be? where was Trap Jaw Tri-Klops Mer-Man or Man-E-Faces? the same could be said for the heroes also. Then there was the question of who on Earth were all these stormtrooper type foot soldiers clad in black armour that were an idea rip from so many films!?. I have since found out they were stuck in so He-Man could kill things without becoming too violent for the kids as He-Man wasn't suppose to kill. I can see that now but it still doesn't work right does it, I can't believe Lucas never sued frankly even with the almost identical ending to 'ROTJ'. Its funny to look back and laugh, even more so to think films like this actually made it to the cinema and were meant to be big money spinners. I actually love how the film just goes off on its own tangent completely ignoring the source material, its so far gone its brilliant in such a bad way. Gotta love Skeletor's golden coloured horned silver foil battle mask getup when he transforms at the end which seems to be a rip off from 'Big Trouble in Little China'! the way Tolkan swears oh and the fact Teela seems to be wearing a thin thong if you look closely as well, kids film?. Wanna give it a good score because its just so poor its good, but really I can't...end of the day it is purely shit.
    Phil H Super Reviewer

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