Coming to home video, DVD on Sept 3
High Octane Pictures
When Masters of the Universe is looking like the reboot movie to keep an eye on, perhaps it’s time to revisit the merchandise that inspired it. Mattel once lamented over the missed opportunity when an offer crossed the desk of then CEO Roy Wagner to produce Star Wars toys. After seeing how successful that went, they missed the boat. The race was on by many toy manufacturers to produce the next big thing. Sadly, that meant licensing nearly every fantasy or sci-fi movies made under the sun in that quest to find El Dorado. Thankfully, a few creative minds got the right idea, but to maintain the fan base has been a struggle.
The conflict has always been with having associated media to keep interest alive. Randall Lobb and Robert McCallum‘s documentary, THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL: The Definitive History of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe explores the hurdles involved over the years in why this franchise is still reverent. According to a few chiefs at Toys r Us back then, 5-year-olds don’t read comic books. Mattel’s answer was to make a TV show.
To lessen the violence, nobody dies and lessons about how to lead a good, virtuous life defined the original series. This 95 minute work on what a being a “master of the universe” is about more than molding young minds. It reflects on nearly every element of its 40 year history which have raised a generation of fans, and how it continues to be an influence despite troubled times of keeping the franchise fresh.
Instead of reading the same information from the Wikipedia, what we hear is right from the horse’s mouth. The original cartoon is looked at in depth and Alan Oppenheimer, Brian Dobson and Cam Clarke enjoyed reflecting about their time with this show. Historian John Atkin has lots to say and even former employees of Mattel–Ted Mayer, Paul Cleveland, Martin Arriola (to name a few)–spoke about what they had to deal with.
To understand the pressures they went through makes more sense than reading a big book about the struggle for Eternia, er eternal recognition for a toy line is real. Not even He-man has the same power as Superman (even though DC made a crossover comic about it in 1982).
For this saga to stay relevant in today’s society means adapting the material, and the creators lightly reflect on what’s made and who still enjoys the story now. With Dark Horse leading the charge with reprints of the comic books, I say this character will always have a place no matter which century he appears in, even in a Buck Rogers style clone environment where he awakens to a darker Eternia.
The adults will collect toys to remind them of their time with He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Teela etc., but what about that movie from long ago that was mostly considered a joke?
I watched it because of Courtney Cox. Her smile can easily brighten any theatre. Dolph Lundgren and Frank Langella knew the challenges not only to make the film successful but also live up to. Both are troopers. They don’t believe this film is as bad as we remember; this segment offers more insight than the bonus material on a typical home video release. After hearing what the team revealed in this segment, I’m inclined to revisit this film with fresh new eyes.
As for what’s next, Netflix has She-Ra: Princesses of Power which will most likely have no relation to the upcoming Masters of the Universe: Revelation. It will pick up from the original series and will take place in the future. Billed as anime, it’s safe to assume its art style will be different than the current series. Only time will tell if Eternia–Adora’s home in the canonical material–is seen. She was kidnapped and brother might one day look for her. Although the movie reboot has been in development hell for the longest time, the curiousity seeker will see it when (and if) it hits cinemas in 2021.