A snarky retrospective of my beloved childhood cartoon, which I have not (mostly) seen since I was five.

New posts every Monday.

(c) 1987 Mattel Inc, Cannon Films, Warner Home Video

A Jimmy Hendrix song blares as Kevin approaches his friend Charlie’s music shop while shouting his name. They greet each other in a really lame, 80s hipster kind of way, and Kevin gets out the “synthesizer” to show his friend, who’s name is in neon above them. Charlie claims to have seen one before, that it’s Japanese. Kevin says its not, and tells him to touch the actuator button, which sets it off with lights and spinning forks, and is also probably alerting Skeletor to their location. Outside, two police cars go racing by, alarms blaring, but barely noticed.

002 1 Brody Check This Out Gif

Kevin rambles on, but a third car finally catches Charlie’s attention. He picks up a conveniently handy police scanner and discovers the high school auditorium is on fire. Kevin gets there fast-as-fuck and finds the janitor being hauled out in a stretcher. Kevin asks him what happened, and all he says is, “you don’t want to ever know”. Kevin starts asking around frantically about Julie when Mr. Strickland, Marty McFly’s archenemies in Back to the Future, tells him they found no one else, only this burnt-to-a-crisp thing that used to be Julie. Finally the cop takes down a description of Julie. Then when Kevin gets lippy, he hauls him to the squad and throws him in the passenger seat to go look for July.

002 2 Mr. Strickland

Nearby, He-Man is walking with Julie to go find the Cosmic Key which she confirmed having had possession of. They run into Man-At-Arms and Teela. As they stand there and talk, an old, pink car comes swerving haphazardly around the corner with Gwildor behind the wheel. As it would happen, he took a broken down combustion engine and made it run on “neutrinos” now, “no hydro-carbons needed.” They all pile in and he activates the thing, which goes speeding off at break-neck speed.

002 3 It Runs on Neutrinos Now

Back in Eternia, Skeletor is cradling Evil-Lyn’s face in his hands. He asks her, calmly, why there is still resistance. Surely, the people must know that he will come to rule. Evil-Lyn answers, just as doped-sounding, that the people believe He-Man will return to save them. Then Skeletor’s mercenaries enter, returned from having failed their mission. They fudge the story a little and tell Skeletor that they encountered the Eternians and were out numbered. So, they escaped home to gather more forces. Skeletor ain’t having it and totally zaps Saurod into oblivion.

002 4 Surely They Must Know I Will Rule

Beastman throws himself at Skeletor’s feet and Karn swears that they live only to serve Skeletor and carry out his wishes. Evil-Lyn pipes up in the mercenarie’s defense, so Skeletor shoves her over to them and tells her that she can accompany them, then. Evil-Lyn says she was not suggesting that she go with these foul failures. “Then you should not have spoken. Leave immediately!” Skeletor says. When they arrive and find the resistance, he will send forces to help them.

002 5 Zapped to Oblivion Gif

Back on Earth, Kevin has arrived at Julie’s house with Mr. Detective Spalding Lubic. He sees the lights are on and suggests she’s home. Even though Kevin tells him that they leave those lights on to scare off burglars, Detective Lubic decides to break in. She’s not there, but the phone rings and it’s her, Julie. Kevin pretends like it’s just some random person because Lubic is breathing down his neck. Julie catches on and gets him to answer yes or no questions like, “do you still have that thing?” He says, “mmm-hmm”, then she hangs up just before Lubic snatches the dead receiver from him.

002 6 Shut Your Face Evil-Lyn

Lubic figures out he was talking about the Cosmic Key, picks it up and starts asking about it. Kevin says it’s a synthesizer and tells Lubic how to use it. He immediately starts carelessly pushing buttons on it with gleeful mischief. “I don’t think this is any synthesizer,” Lubic says. On Earth, Evil-Lyn has arrived. She uses a scanner that allows her to see what happened in the past – He-Man, and only He-Man – fighting the mercenaries, along with the lone human girl. Evil-Lyn busts the mercenaries’ balls about the “armies” they claimed to have beaten them earlier.

002 7 What Cho Talkin Bout Willis

In his apartment, Kevin pops some ribs in the microwave while he continues talking to Detective Lubic. From outside, Evil-Lyn’s goon picks up the interference from the microwave on his video monitor and he’s trying to spy on them while tracking them. He blows up the microwave remotely because of the interference. Lubic has had enough, so he takes the Cosmic Key. Kevin finally admits he found it, but that Charlie will back him up that it’s a synthesizer. Lubic says he’s going to find out what it is, but until then, he’s keeping it. Kevin protests that Lubic can’t just take it, failing to realize that he, more or less, admitted that it’s stolen property to a detective.

002 9 Stay Up In Your Room and Play Synthesizers

After the detective has left, Kevin puts a bunch of Burger King into the sink and wipes down his cutting board counter. As he’s wiping it down, his back door explodes and Beastman comes running in. Kevin yells, “Get out of here!” repeatedly and throws his rag at Beastman. Beastman kicks his ass until Evil-Lyn calls him off and puts a mind control collar on Kevin. As every one else tears all the furniture apart, Evil-Lyn asks him questions about the Cosmic Key. Kevin tells them that the cop took the Cosmic Key. Karn returns with a photo of Julie and explains that’s the girl that was with He-Man. They load up into their flying swamp boat and fly off to track the Cosmic Key from the air.

002 8 Evil-Lyns Eyes

Just as they leave, the pink hero-mobile pulls up. He-Man, Julie, Man-At-Arms, and Teela storm into Kevin’s apartment. Man-At-Arms and He-Man take advantage of the mind control collar to find out what happened to the Cosmic Key, then they take it off. As soon as they do, Kevin flips out and holds a chair up in defense against He-Man. Julie uses her laser pistol to shoot the chair to pieces. She tells him to chill out because they’re her friends. Kevin is freaking the fuck out. He keeps babbling and screaming about “these things” coming in here. He really is handling this much more poorly than Julie did, Jesus. Somebody give him a Xanax! Just then, that freaky little guy Gwildor comes forth wearing a wacky hat and sunglasses. All the Eternians crack the fuck up, but Kevin looks like he’s going to puke.

002 10 Oh Gwildor

So, they all head off to Charlie’s music store because that’s where Detective Lubic was going. Inside Charlie’s, Lubic is asking Charlie about the Cosmic Key, because Kevin said he would know about it. Lubic is seriously concerned that it’s Russian. Just then the pink hero-mobile pulls up. Lubic turns to watch them through the window and says, “What do you know? The mountain comes to Mohammad.” Then the wackiest crew gets out and heads inside. “Something tells me I’ve been looking for you all night,” Lubic says to He-Man. He-Man asks for their device back, so Captain Lubic pulls his gun on He-Man.

002 11 Dont Shoot Shoot Shoot That Thing At Me

Man-At-Arms tries to reason with him, but he hasn’t seen Back to the Future, so he doesn’t know what dick the guy is. Gwildor bursts in and announces that something is after them. He-Man orders everyone into the back, and though he resists, Teela gets Lubic to follow her. He-Man and Man-At-Arms cover the front while Gwildor starts working with the Cosmic Key in the back. Kevin gets all up in his business wanting a full explanation of what Gwildor is doing. Gwildor explains that “the universe is music,” then goes back to hitting keys.

002 12 Explain Everything

Up front, He-Man and Man-At-Arms are hiding behind a big pile of amps when the troops burst through the front windows. They start firing, blowing all the troops away. More advance and more fall. In the back, Teela is bothering Gwildor, wanting to know how much longer he’s going to be. Gwildor is pissed. He doesn’t know how long it’s going to take, shit, just let the fucking artist work. Man-At-Arms throws a grenade and destroys even more instruments and soldiers. Instruments are on fire as the battle wages on. Lubic gets in Teela’s head about the battle going on, so she gives Kevin the .38 and heads up front to lend a hand.

002 13 A Womans Touch

Lubic demands that Kevin give him the gun, but he refuses telling Lubic he heard what Teela said, this isn’t a game! Lubic goes on a rant about how he’s going to throw Kevin in jail when this is all over. Julie gets distracted and looks out back and sees her mother wandering down the alley. It’s obviously just Evil-Lyn using her magic to trick Julie, having seen the article Karn found about her parents plane crash, but Julie is fooled. Her mom mimes the shush-mouth. As Detective Lubic wrestles Kevin for the gun, Julie sneaks out. Her mother claims it’s really her, and she faked her death because they were doing secret work. She tells Julie the work has to do with the Cosmic Key, and asks Julie to get it for her. RED FLAG.

002 14 Shady Shady Mom

Inside, Kevin, Charlie, and Lubic are wrestling when Gwildor recovers the gun and fires it. He tells everybody to knock it the fuck off, because he’s got work to do. Kevin notices Julie is missing, when she steps back inside and says, “Would you believe it, they’re alive!” She snatches the Cosmic Key and runs it outside to her “mom”. Her mom hugs her then turns back into Evil-Lyn and says, “Thank you darling.” Julie screams in horror – repeatedly – as Evil-Lyn flees with the key. The troops set fire to the music shop and vacate. Man-At-Arms pops out, ready to blow them away, and finds the place empty and flaming.

002 15 Tricked

Gwildor calls He-Man to the back and indicates the key is out back. Julie shouts, “That woman took the key!” They all take off after her. Out front, Lubic asks for a gun. Charlie gets a shotgun out from under the counter and gives it to him. Lubic orders him to stay put in the flaming music shop and Charlie agrees. Idiot. Lubic runs out front with the shotgun and orders the troops to freeze. They fire at him with lasers as he ducks behind a car and decides he’ll need back up.

002 16 Take Cover

Out back, Evil-Lyn is using the Cosmic Key to open a portal back to Eternia with the spare key. She punches in a key sequence that sounds like church bells so Skeletor and can transport his troops in. The portal opens and He-Man hurries everyone into the ally for cover. All kinds of soldiers come in on little Green Goblin-like gliders, until Skeletor floats in on his hover-throne. He contacts Evil-Lyn and she confirms that she has the key. She also tells him the native Earthlings are idiots and easily controlled, and that He-Man is on the run.

002 17 Skeletor Arrives

We end here for the week, on a cliffhanger. Skeletor and his army have arrived on Earth. Will he gain the power of Castle Grayskull? Will he become the master of not only Eternia, but also of Earth, and even the universe? Or will the forces of good, led by a shirtless, leather strapped muscle-man be able to save both of their worlds, along with the universe, from Skeletor’s reign?

…to be continued

IMDB Listing Masters of the Universe

(c) 1987 Mattel Inc, 1987 Cannon Films, 1987 Warner Home Video

Well, here we are, at the last stage of the project. The runtime is listed as 106 minutes, so I will split this into three parts, covering approximately 25 minutes each. I saw this in the theater when I was about 6 years old. I have seen it again more recently than the rest of the He-Man cartoon series as I picked up a copy of Masters of the Universe on DVD while I was in college, but I haven’t watched it since then, so it’s been close to 10 years already. We open with a bit of expositive narration explaining Castle Grayskull to us – that the Sorceress has ruled over it for “countless ages”. She has been able to keep the powers of the light and dark in check, but the powers of dark grow eager to possess the powers Castle Grayskull, for it will allow them to become “The Masters of the Universe” – queue opening credits.

1 1 Castle Grayskull

After the opening credits, we cut to Skeletor’s throne room. Skeletor himself, played by the always awesome Frank Langella, storms in and demands a report from Evil-Lyn. She advises him that they have sealed the gates to the city, the castle is secured, and although He-Man continues to lead the resistance, that they will have him before the day is out. Skeletor is super pumped about having He-Man bow at his feet by the end of the day. Skeletor has the Sorceress, who does not look like the bird-creature from the series, in his capture already, but she defies him, pointing out the power of Grayskull has not passed to him yet, and that He-Man is still alive.

1 2 Skeletor is Super Pumped

Skeletor’s image appears to a number of the rebels out in the sandy desert wastelands. He announces that he has captured the Sorceress, and that her power will become his. As his first decree, any who will not submit to him will be destroyed! He-Man stands there defiantly facing the image of Skeletor. He-Man attacks some of Skeletor’s troops as they transport a small, dwarf like creature that has been newly invented for the movie, because, Orko was just not a practical character. At this juncture I am not sorry he’s absent from this farce. Once He-Man rescues the creature, he spots Man-At-Arms and Teela and greets them warmly. I’m disappointed that Teela is isn’t a hot redhead like she is in the show. She’s attractive, of course, just not a hot redhead, which is a bummer.

1 3 Defiance

Man-At-Arms frees the little goblin guy form his net. His name is Gwildor, locksmith and inventor. Skeletor was hunting him down because, well, Gwildor is going to have to show them. He leads them to a door and bitches moans about how he remembers a time when they didn’t have to lock their doors. Then he unlocks it and lets them in. He tells them that Skeletor is after them because of his invention. He wants him killed so can’t make another one. He calls it the Cosmic Key – the tones it can produce can open a portal to anywhere in the universe. That’s how Skeletor got into the middle of the city and surprised the rebel forces. Evil-Lyn tricked Gwildor and took the Cosmic Key. However she doesn’t know that Gwildor still has a prototype.

1 4 The Cosmic Key

He-Man wants to use the prototype to home in on and rescue the Sorceress, but Gwildor says they can’t because Skeletor’s key will be able to home in on their signal. Just then, some of Skeletor’s goons show up outside Gwildor’s place, already having located them. Gwildor leads them into a secret passage to escape, just as the villains break inside. I guess the secret passage leads right into Skeletor’s fortress, because He-Man and friends come out right in the throne room and find the Sorceress trapped in an energy field that Skeletor has created. She warns He-Man that he is in danger and must go. He-Man insists that Gwildor use the Cosmic Key to unlock the force field, but it’s going to take some time.

1 5 Shes Not a Bird

Evil-Lyn and Skeletor, and his forces approach, so He-Man sends Gwildor to the back of the room to continue trying to unlock the force field. He-Man confronts Skeletor and demands that he let the Sorceress go. He refuses. While she’s in the force field, her powers increase his own. When the moon is at it’s zenith, the Great Eye will open and all the powers of Grayskull will become his own. Skeletor promises the destruction of the Sorceress, and unless everyone else submits to him, them as well. Evil-Lyn hears something suspicious and figures out that Gwildor is present and that he has another key he’s fucking with.

1 6 Movie Evil-Lyn

Skeletor launches an attack, so He-Man, Man-At-Arms, and Teela run defenses while Gwildor continues trying to break the force field. He-Man does have his power sword, but so far in this movie, he mostly uses laser guns. He’s deflecting laser blasts with his sword, but his offense is a laser pistol. Things are getting pretty intense, so Man-At-Arms suggests that Gwildor use the Cosmic Key to get them out of there – anywhere else but here. Gwildor activates the device to do just that. It opens a portal, which makes Gwildor laugh triumphantly. The Sorceress tells He-Man he must escape and leave her. Though he’s resistant at first, He-Man grabs Gwildor and jumps though the portal with him, causing him to drop the key. As Skeletor’s forces go for it, a grappling hook comes out of the portal and grabs the key, rescuing it from Skeletor.

1 7 Lets Get The Fuck Out

Skeletor orders that the signals from the key be monitored so they can track down and locate He-Man and the rebels. On the other side of the portal, He-Man and crew come out in the woods on Earth. Gwildor lands head down in mud, until He-Man pulls him out. Teela tells him to relax, but Gwildor isn’t so calm, because his gills are full of mud. He dutifully blows it all out over them. He-Man wants to get back to Eternia, but Gwildor didn’t memorize the coordinates. It’s okay because the key stores the coordinates. However, they seem to have lost it in the jump, as it it’s no longer in the grappling hook. Just as they are about to search for it, they detect an alien life form – a cow – and make a big deal about how ugly it is.

1-8-Fucking-Disgusting-Gif

1 9 Moo

Gwildor approaches it, mooing, to try and communicate with it. They coordinate their communicators so they can split up and locate the key. Whoever finds it will hit the actuator button and trigger them all to teleport back to Skeletor’s throne room so they can finish their rescue mission. Gwildor’s attempts to communicate with the cow are unsuccessful. We cut to a little rib joint called Robby’s where a young, fresh-faced Courtney Cox is working the counter. Apparently, it’s her last day because she’s moving away to New Jersey. Her coworker is offering her some advice – don’t break up with Kevin Corrigan, and don’t move away. He’s a hunk, and her reason for moving before graduation is bullshit.

1 10 Courtney Cox

A horn sounds outside and it’s Kevin picking her up from work. She gets in his van and he asks what time her bus heads out. Julie says the bus leaves for the airport at 8:30, which means she can and will make the sound check for his band tonight. She hands over some Robby’s Ribs for dinner, and he’s a total douche about it. “Oh, boy. Robby’s Ribs. That’s not very romantic for our last date,” Kevin says. She really turns the mood around when she asks him to take her to the cemetery to say good-bye to her dead parents. As they drive away, Teela peeks from around some bushes, discovering Robby’s Ribs. Teela sneaks up on Man-At-Arms, who has followed his nose to the rib joint.

1 11 Robbys Ribs

From their vantage point, they observe a couple teens with a bucket of ribs in the back seat while they make out in the front of the convertible. They also observe Gwildor watching them. He uses his grappling hook to steal the ribs and is slurping down rib sauce and munching on ribs when Teela and Man-At-Arms approach him. Gwildor claims he was going to share when he’s confronted, and hands over the bucket of ribs. Man-At-Arms remarks at how good the food is. Teela says, “I wonder why they put the food on these little white sticks?” Man-At-Arms says, nonchalantly, “Those are rib bones”. Teela and Gwildor seem pretty disturbed by this, and I can’t help but wonder why Man-At-Arms knows what rib bones are and is not bothered by it, but Teela and Gwildor don’t seem to be familiar with rib bones at all and are highly disturbed by it.

1 12 What Are These White Sticks

At the cemetery, Julie is trying to really run the mood into the ground. She’s standing there looking at the headstones and she tells Kevin that it’s her fault they died. Kevin says that’s ridiculous, of course, because they died in a plane crash. Julie explains that she was supposed to go to the beach with them that day, but she claimed she needed to stay home and study, because she wanted to spend the day with Kevin. Since they couldn’t all go to the beach together, her parent’s took the plane to Catalina instead, and well, now they’re dead. I feel like you really have to be some awful fucking pilots to crash and due from the San Diego area to Catalina. As they’re walking away, they hear a beeping sound and discover the Cosmic Key lying in a flowerbed. Julie picks it up and activates it. Kevin thinks it’s a Japanese synthesizer and starts pushing buttons, making musical tones.

1 13 A Major Discovery

Back in Eternia at Snake Mountain, Skeletor picks up on the signals that the Cosmic Key is producing because of the buttons that Julie and Kevin are pushing. He hands his key over to Evil-Lyn and instructs her that when they activate they key again, she should home in on it and lock the coordinates in. Since it might be a trap, they will send some mercenaries ahead to check it out. Back on Earth, He-man is prowling around outside the high school gym. It figures he’s be up to his flirtatious old tricks! Inside, Kevin grabs a mic to try and amp up the sounds from the Cosmic Key, then hits a button that produces sounds and visual effects, and also allows Skeletor to lock onto the signal. Evil-Lyn has his mercenaries ready to go. His finest warriors: Blade, Saurod, The Beastman, and Karg. He instructs them to get He-Man back – alive – before moonrise. They can kill the others if they want, but He-Man MUST be returned alive.

1 14 Blade and Saurod

1 14 The Beastman And Karg

Kevin wants to take the Cosmic Key to his friend Charlie to check it out. Julie wants to stay behind to say her good-byes to the gym alone, since she won’t be there for graduation. She gives Kevin permission to go on with out her. He swears he’ll be back in 15 minutes. As soon as he leaves, the portal opens and Skeletor’s mercenaries get into the school. Julie’s supposed to let Kevin’s friend Carl in so when she hears sounds coming from outside the auditorium, she approaches cautiously, thinking it’s him. A janitor surprises the mercenaries on the other side of the doors, so they through him through the door into the gym. When Julie sees what’s happening, she runs and they give chase trying to capture her and recover the Cosmic Key.

1 15 Under Siege

Julie crawls under the stage and barely misses Blade’s swords. She comes out the side and evades Beastman, managing to throw a bunch of amonia in his face. This buys her enough time to escape the gym, which is now on fire, screaming for help. He-Man happens to be walking around and hears the commotion. He comes running and Julia runs smack dab into him. She frantically explains she’s running from some monsters. He hides her away and tells her that he’ll take care of it. He give her his laser pistol for protection and runs off.

1 16 What a Hunk

He-Man throws something to distract the warriors than attacks some of the soldiers. Saurod spots him and starts firing at He-Man, but Julie hits him with the laser gun He-Man gave her. Blade picks up the slack and goes after He-Man. The two of them get into a proper sword fight, which is pretty cool. So far, I have to say, Dolph Lundgren represents He-Man reasonably well. He looks the part, and he plays the part with a kindness that feels genuine if not slightly too soft. It’s both awful and much better than I expected. Finally Man-At-Arms and Teela show up and scare off the bad guys with their oppressive laser fire.

1 17 He-Man

This week’s episode concludes with a temporary respite from the reach and grasp of Skeletor, and the opportunity to pursue the mercenaries back through a portal to Eternia to continue the hero’s efforts save the Sorceress and stop Skeletor from becoming the Master of the Universe. The question is, do we care? Do Julie’s – or He-Man’s, for that matter – doe-eyes make us care at all? For better or worse, we’re at the end, so let’s get this over with.

…to be continued

IMDB: Masters of the Universe