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Cheesy but Enjoyable Sci Fi Adventure!
cariart20 March 2004
I feel a bit guilty, reading some of the other reviews posted, but I liked MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE! Perhaps because I was never 'into' the cartoon series, I am more forgiving of characters or plot devices left out, and I certainly recognize that it is derivative of both STAR WARS and FLASH GORDON (particularly in Bill Conti's bombastic musical score), but there is so much energy in the film, such abundant confidence in the ultimate victory of Good versus Evil, and such a wonderfully campy performance by Frank Langella as rubber-masked Skeletor that I get a kick out of it, whenever it airs.

Physically, no actor could be more perfect as the hero, He-Man, than ROCKY 4's Dolph Lundgren. At 6'6" (that's two inches taller than JOHN WAYNE, trivia fans!), with flowing blond hair and blue eyes, the 30-year old Swedish actor combined a Herculean physique (if Marvel Comics' "The Mighty Thor" is ever filmed, he would be perfect as the Thunder God), with a knack for weapons that would earn him the future title of 'King' of 'B' action flicks. True, his English was so poor at the time of filming that his dialog was kept to a minimum, but who watches this kind of film for dialog, anyway?

Supporting Lundgren's He-Man is crusty veteran soldier, Duncan (Man-at-Arms), played by character actor Jon Cypher, who makes up for He-Man's taciturn nature by reminiscing constantly about a life in the military (with observations EVERY soldier has made, through history), and his daughter, Teela (pretty Chelsea Field, one of the busiest actresses of the decade), serving as a "Xena Lite" for the proceedings.

Opposing the Forces of Good with the irreplaceable Langella is one of my favorite actresses, Meg Foster, as the sublimely wicked Evil-Lyn, using her piercing green eyes and barely suppressed sexuality to great advantage. With an array of the cartoon's more colorful villains in support of Skeletor and Evil-Lyn, He-Man has his hands full!

The plot involves a tonal 'key', created by a dwarf, Gwildor (screen legend Billy Barty, in an initially irritating, but eventually endearing role), that can transport individuals wherever they desire. Stolen by Evil-Lyn, Skeletor uses it to capture He-Man's Castle Greyskull and it's resident Sorceress ("St. Elsewhere" alum Christina Pickles). With a hidden prototype 'key', Gwildor leads our heroes into the castle...where they are nearly captured by Skeletor, before the dwarf throws together some random numbers, and transports our Earth.

The 'key' is lost, as the four arrive on our planet, to be found by aspiring musician Kevin Corrigan ("Star Trek: Voyager" star Robert Duncan McNeill) who thinks it's a Japanese musical instrument! With girlfriend Julie Winston (future "Friends" superstar Courteney Cox, looking young and gorgeous), the pair are astonished by the musical complexities of the device, unaware that each time it is 'played', Skeletor is getting a better 'fix' of it's location. Eventually, our planet is pinpointed, and Skeletor leads an army of villains to subdue us, and capture He-Man.

With great comic support by bald character actor James Tolkan (BACK TO THE FUTURE), as a bewildered police detective, some spectacular 'set' pieces (Skeletor's invasion force, backed by 'Darth Vader'ish music, is a highlight), and an ending that concludes that "ANYTHING is possible", MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE is great cheesy fun!

Certainly, the film is not a classic, but if you accept it on it's own terms, I think you might find it to be a lot of fun!
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Two words: Frank Langella.
swedzin25 May 2016
So, this precious little gem, from the 80s, still remains a special gem in our minds. First of all, let me be clear, this is movie is bad, not the worst, but really bad and campy. I don't know how Cannon pictures took over the rights for this film, and how no other well-known, or larger studio didn't take the rights of something so popular. Really, He-Man and Masters of the Universe were quite popular and favorite show for kids (and to mention all that toys sales…), but was it a good idea? Was it necessary? Even for the 80s?

Now, the budget was ridiculously low, and the movie did not worked well at box office, but it has, even today, a loyal cult following. The story is funny, it's just a movie adaptation of some typical (not exactly) episode about a cosmic key that is wanted by Skeletor. Now, the story and directing, including script are cheesy, meant for kids of course, but when you get older, you realize how dumb that clichéd that was. They did not follow the original idea entirely, the characters do not look too much as themselves from the original TV show, they did not even put their original super powers, or special abilities, He-Man doesn't even have his Battle cat. So, that makes things disappointing. The acting is ridiculous, except maybe for Meg Foster… and of course Frank Langella… I'll talk about him soon enough.

I have to admit that Dolph Lundgren was a pretty good choice for He- Man, but, the guy can't act, and he looks pretty much older and they never referred to him as "Adam". Meg Foster was good as Evil-Lyn and I think she was a good choice and she put some of her charm and poisonous sexiness to her character… I vouch for her. This was one of the first major roles of Courtney Cox, thought she did not tried that much, nor her character was all that developed. Her boyfriend Kevin (Robert Duncan McNeill) was just ridiculous. Other actors as James Tolkan (who played a cliché detective who waits his retirement), Neil Cypher (Man at Arms was not that special) was solid, Chelsea Field (Teela was not that much developed also, she was there to look good in her tight white battle-armor… ). I think that supporting actors as Bill Barty (who played Gwildor) was good. Though I also think that they made up this character, because they didn't have a budget for Orko. And also… Anthony Longinus was good as Blade, though he could do more fighting scenes with his character.

Now, for Frank Langella… what to say… Everyone who studies acting, want to become an actor, or is already an accomplished actor… must swear to Langella's performance here. I think that Langella saved this film. He was easily the best actor in the film. So this is a prime example of good actor, overshadowing all other actors. He just steals the entire show and he was glad about it, because his sons wanted him to play Skeletor. And look at him, that is the actor who had so much fun with his character and that would be a good advice to other actors… just have fun with it. Just like for example… Raul Julia in Street Fighter (1994).

The costumes and make up were not entirely bad, but the costumes could have been better. They could make them to identify more with the TV show characters. The costumes of Skeletor's storm troopers were too generic… too usual. The interior and exterior of planet Eternia was bad… it was just bad and unimaginative… So most of the scenes were filmed on earth. There are also people who thinks that this movie has gay overtones and make jokes about it… Really, some people can't notice something far more important in the film… Overall, I do recommend this gem, because it's a good, family fun, of course not to take for granted. And, yes… watch after credits.
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Silly but Entertaining
claudio_carvalho18 June 2017
On the planet Eternia, Skeletor (Frank Langella) and his dark army overthrow the Sorceress of Castle Grayskull (Christina Pickles) expecting to acquire her power. He-Man (Dolph Lundgren), his old friend Duncan "Man-at-Arms" (Jon Cypher) and his daughter Teela (Chelsea Field) are attacked by Skeletor's soldiers and they defeat them. They also rescue their prisoner, the inventor and locksmith Gwildor (Billy Barty). He explains that he was lured by Evil-Lyn (Meg Foster) that used his invention Cosmic Key to open the gates and seize the Castle Grayskull. He-Man and his friends retrieve the prototype of the Cosmic Key trying to release the Sorcereress but they are defeated by Skeletor and his army and Gwildor uses his key to open and portal for them to flee. They come to Earth but lose the key. Meanwhile Julie Winston (Courteney Cox), who grieves the loss of her parents in a plane crash, and her boyfriend Kevin Corrigan (Robert Duncan McNeill) find and activate the key, believing it is a foreign musical instrument. On Eternia, Evil-Lyn locates the Cosmic Key and Skeletor sends her with a group of mercenaries and soldiers to vanquish He-man and his friends and bring the key back. Will they succeed?

"Masters of the Universe" is a silly but entertaining fantasy adventure film. The movie is a ripoff Star Wars, with the introductory credits rolling on the screen, the score and Skeletor's army, and Conan, with the strong Dolph Lundgren. The plot has silly moments, like Julie delivering the Key to her deceased mother or the comic attitudes of Detective Lubic. But "Masters of the Universe" is cult and entertaining for the fans. My vote is five.

Title (Brazil): "Mestres do Universo – O Filme" ("Masters of the Universe – The Movie")
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Masters of the Universe really came out two years to late.
Aaron137529 July 2012
This film came out in 1987 which was two years after the Transformers movie (the cartoon). It also came on two years after the last new episode of the cartoon was made. Basically, it pretty much was a done franchise when the live action adaptation hit the big screen. I was a fan of the cartoon, so I went to this film, but even at this young age I was not the fan I once was. Transformers took the mantle of my favorite cartoon. Still, I thought it would be cool to see a live action He-man, which I remember reading about in my He-man monthly magazine. What graces the screen is a mixed bag. You find yourself saying 'that is pretty cool' while at the same time going 'this really isn't much like the cartoon'. The film was released by Canon, which is odd mainly due to the fact they mainly released 'R' rated, over the top violence and bloody movies during this time. Here they release a children's film and do so with a rather large budget...over 20 million. They cast Dolph in the role of He-man and had a few other stars of note in what would be a doomed franchise in that it never made it passed the first initial film.

The story has Skeletor basically in charge. He has taken over Castle Greyskull, he has the sorceress in his evil clutches and he has He-man and his two allies Man-At-Arms and Teela on the run. So already it is nothing like the cartoon as I just do not remember any episodes where Skeletor was this ahead of the game. It is kind of like the Transformers film in that in that one the Decepticons were winning despite never really challenging the Autobots during the course of the show. It is also more forgiving here as this is a live action movie, independent of the cartoon, while the Transformers were a continuation of the show. Well He-man and company run across a little creature named Gwildor. I do think they should of just named him Orko and be down with it, cause that is obviously who he was in essence. Well this creature has a device that transports our gang from Eternia to Earth and thus Hollywood once again uses the trick of setting what should be a battle on a fantasy world to Earth. Earth, the place where sets are not as expensive. We also get these two teenagers who have drama in their lives, making me wonder, who the heck were these two characters trying to appeal to? Not me, or my friend as we both found their romance and storyline boring. Well there are battles aplenty and when the film is focused on the action it is pretty good.

Dolph is okay as He-man, he certainly has the looks. Still, he does not look at home in a child friendly film in costume. Frank Langella seems right at home though as the evil Skeletor and he does a commendable job. He also has the coolest scene in the film, where his giant throne like ship comes rising up behind our characters. The rest of the cast do okay, get rid of the two teens and their asinine sad plot and this film could of been great. Not saying we should not have an earthling for the gang to interact with, but not the girl from the Bruce Springsteen video! Seriously, were they trying to attract teens that would not want to see a He-man film in a million years or what? If they were looking to attract teen guys, all the simply had to do was put Teela in the costume she wore in the cartoon.

So basically the film has some good and some bad. A bit more good than bad. The film plays like other films like Star Wars and Krull with the added additions of the He-man and Skeletor characters. I do not understand the inclusions of the newer characters, because at this point the toy was finished so why not have more of the characters from the show. Why Gwilder instead of Orko? They at least had Teela, Man-At-Arms, Evilyne and Beastman, but those new characters were just lame. Well Sauron was cool and not in the movie for long. Karg and Blademaster were just embarrassing looking. The film though has some good action, between the melodrama and this film while not perfect did probably the best it could with the budget and the source material. Had the rights been bought by a bigger film company I am sure it could have done better. This film reminds me of the Dragonball: Evolution film, it too was released well after the show's popularity had fallen, only this one was not the failure it was, because even it followed the source material better than that film. So an okay action flick with some fantasy touches.
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A lot of fun! Some great performances as well...
Sentinel-153 July 2005
I first saw this movie way back in the 80's, and recently got hold of the DVD. I'm pleased to say I still enjoyed it as much as I did back then! While the decision to place part of the story in 1980's suburban America, planet Earth, was no doubt a way to keep the budget low, the end result is still a lot of fun, and the main characters manage to stay pretty close to their original characters. Naturally, though, I'd loved to have seen some more of Eternia instead. Unfortunately, the promised sequel never came to be.

Frank Langella is simply brilliant; his bigger-then-life portrayal of Skeletor may be different from what they did in the TV series, but it works great. He commands every scene he is in, and his performance is powerful yet subtle at certain moments. Wonderful! By the way, be sure to watch until the end credits are over...

Dolph Lundgren, while perhaps not quite the eloquent thespian Langella is, does make a formidable old-fashioned hero.
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Awesome fantasy adventure
Just as some movies that should be great turn out to be awful, some movies that should be awful turn out to be great - Masters of the Universe. Unfortunately, for a film that's based on a cartoon that today's 20-somethings used to watch in the 1980's, none of the said 20-somethings are going to admit to liking it now. Few will give it a chance and realize the direction is good, the acting is good, the music is good, that it's exciting, funny, scary, suitably epic and absolutely action-packed and that it looks fantastic. But Superhero Cinema does. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was a hugely successful mid-80's cartoon based on a line of action figures. The success of each fed the other, as well as a popular comicbook and loads of other merchandise. Finally in 1987 came the big one: the motion picture.

What looks like suicide at first glance - converting a cartoon based on action figures into a full-length feature - gets more appealing when you look at thes ource material closer. The cartoon is a epic hybrid of fantasy and sci-fi, with ancient castles and sorcerers mixing with laser guns and cyborgs. It also has a very mythic feel, mixing Ancient Greece-era monsters and challenges with fairy tale locations.

There are also hordes of exotic characters - warriors, mutants, monsters, magicians of every description, so the film makers could pick the coolest ones to bring to the screen. The ones they've chosen are He-Man and his arch enemy Skeletor (obviously), amazon-type female warrior Teela and her dad Man-At -Arms, the Sorceress of Grayskull, Skeletor's second in command Evil Lyn (which is always pronounced 'Evil-In'), and Beastman. Added to these are four characters that were created for the film - Gwildor, a dwarf-like inventor, Karg, a cross between Captain Hook and a bat, snake-like Sauron, and Blade, a sword and knife-obsessed slaphead. So that's eleven fantasy characters running about, which is a pretty good total.

Masters of the Universe succeeds because it takes the cartoon and adapts not it's superficial qualities, but it's essence into a movie, turning it into a mature sci-fi/fantasy adventure. This is where so many comic and cartoon based movies fail. They don't adapt their source material properly to make a successful feature film. You need to make the movie a natural progression from what it's based on, altering the look enough so it looks acceptable in real action, altering the characters into real people, choosing actors who can give real performances. It's not simply dressing superstars up as characters from a comic or cartoon, it's re-imagining the ideas as a movie. MotU does this perfectly. You can fault it as a film itself, of course, but you can't fault it as an adaption.

The production design is superb, with some superbly realized sets and costumes. Everything has been adapted to look more realistic on the big screen. The cast give uniformly decent performances. Nobody lets the side down - these are all 3D characters, not cartoons. Dolph Lungren proves he's one of the European bodybuilder brigade who can act. Frank Langella gives an outstanding performance as Skeletor, his powerful presence almost bursting out of the TV and into your living room. Langella gives a shining example to all actors portraying comicbook and cartoon characters in live action. There is a pervading sense of dread whenever he appears, especially during Castle Grayskull sequences, and the script gives him some awesome lines which he delivers with pure evil dripping from his voice.

The monsters are pretty bloody scary, especially for a family film, especially the Beastman (who's had a 'the' added to his name). The sequence where they invade a school gym and chase Julie around it is excellent, far more exciting and scary than similar chases in many horror films (including some of those Courtney Cox has been in). It's also, like the rest of the film, surprisingly violent, as the bad guys attack Julie with swords, claws, laser guns and high velocity darts. That she manages to escape is not unbelievable at all, because of the way the chase is staged - it's just a relief she gets out of there, the goal of any such chase scene. The sheer ammount of bad guys that the small band of heroes has to face adds greatly to the drama.

Setting half of the movie on Earth has it's advantages and disadvantages. It does give the film a human component, and two ordinary teenagers to be pulled into the adventure with. It also makes the monsters scarier - rather than being in a distant galaxy, they are in the neighbourhood, viciously attacking people and destroying whatever they come across. On the other hand, it would have been cool to see some more of the war torn Eternia and the planet's weird inhabitants and locations, but MotU had a relatively small budget, so that sort of stuff was off limit anyway. A little too much time is spent on the almost soap-opera angle of Julie and Kevin, but it helps flesh out their characters to make them believable.

MotU is also packed with action, and we do mean packed. There is an outbreak of violence every 15 minutes or so, usually even less, and there is variety and imagination among the content, unlike many action films, which consist of repetetive shoot outs and nothing more. It could possibly be said that it's quantity over quality, as some of it, particularly the shoot-outs, are badly filmed, and none of the action ever reaches adrenalin pumping. However, it's good enough, in-yer-face and quite exciting to watch, with He-Man taking out hordes of bad guys with his sword, laser beams everywhere, mass destruction and some good old rough and tumble. And all the action grows organically from the story - none of it seems put in simply because the movie needed an action scene at a certain point.

One of MotU's greatet assets is it's atmosphere. The sense of an intergalactic civil war is tangible, as is the sheer menace of the villains, the desperation of the good guys, the growing sense of doom as Skeletor captures the Cosmic Key. There is a cower-behind-the-sofa scariness similar to that of TV's Doctor Who.

If Masters of the Universe was re-released at cinemas this summer, people would realize how good it is compared to the blockbuster summer fare we get these days. And all for $17m, which was hardly anything, even in 1987.
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Great fun!
Skeletors_Hood3 October 2001
"I Have the Power!"

For those of us who grew up in the 80's, that phrase is all too familiar. Especially for those who would rush home after school to watch our favorite strongman face off against the forces of evil that threaten the safety and security of his homeworld. For my money, it was never better than when He-Man faced off against Skeletor for the struggle for Eternia.

I also remember the fantasies that I and my friends would have of traveling away to that world of magic and fantasy, to fight alongside He-Man as he defends Grayskull. It truly was a series that was out of this world.

And now it's on Earth.

When I first heard about a live action movie, (mind you, I was twelve at the time), I was overly excited about it. But I didn't get to see it until my late teens. And I must say that it was very well done, especially in its presentation. In fact it brought back those far away childhood memories of those late afternoons in front of the tv, or outside with the toys a make-shift Eternia setting with my friends.

I'll grant a few things that were wrong with the movie though. There were times that I think the script was either badly edited, or just too rushed at certain points. I'm also not thrilled about them being on earth, but understanding budget constraints and the idea to make these characters more real than fantasy help feed into that decision, so I let that one go. I would have also liked to see more of the characters from the toys in the movie, but have no complaints that they made up a few cool characters, like Blade.

The casting choices, I felt, were really good. Dolph Lundgren worked as He-Man, even though he can't act. He looked the part, and even pulled off the role. I could tell that he wasn't walking through the part, as many actor will do with character roles (right Mr. Clooney?). And Frank Langella the PERFECT choice for Skeletor. Langella managed to bring that character to life in a way that gave me chills. Skeletor is perhaps one of the greatest villains ever imagined, but the cartoon made him a cackling villain, who was more a buffoon than anything, therefore he didn't seem threatening. But seeing Langella make Skeletor more dark and evil put my faith back into the conviction as a great villain.

You don't have to be a die hard fan of the series to enjoy the movie. It's great fun, imaginative, and it captures a moment in time. Don't scrutinize the movie because it's different from the cartoon. Look at it for what it is, and don't focus on its faults. It had the power to recapture my imagination, so its not all that bad.
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AN Honest Review
generationofswine2 August 2019
Masters of the Universe, at least the cartoon and toys, were one of the reasons I am so happy I had a childhood in the 80s... along with GI Joe and Star Wars, they were some of the most defining things of 80s childhood play.

And then this came out and we all felt a little cheated that we had a knock-off Orco, but totally excited that we had a movie we could see on the big screen. And we were young enough to not see how low the budget was.

But, man, Frank Langella really sold his role didn't he? He brought his A-Game to this and knocked it out of the park.

And Chelsea Field deserved better roles, she's never been bad in any of her films, even this low budget fair.

But, watching it as an adult... it's a lot more B-Movie than it was when I was a kid, and the nostalgia and, well, Langella, are all that's really carrying it. But it's still fun. It still entertains, and is still all that matters.
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Overwhelming fantasy about heroic He-man battling Skeletor in Eternia and Earth
ma-cortes3 August 2010
A corpulent hero named He-man , a veteran warrior (John Cypher) , his daughter (Chelsea Field) , a likable midget (Billy Barty) fight in Eternia against a vile villain named Skeletor (Frank Langella as a Darth Vader clone) in a fantasy/Sci-Fi about rebel forces battling for the sake of freedom and engaged in a life or death war with the tyrant leader of a far planet . They transport themselves by means of a mechanism that creates a time hole to Earth in which nothing less the future of the universe is at stake . There they meet an intimate and youthful couple (Courney Cox , Richard Duncan). Meanwhile , Skeletor wants to get a chance by destiny to receive the powers of Grayskull . From a distant galaxy... they have come to Earth. A battle fought in the stars, now... comes to Earth. The live-action motion picture . Only the universe could hold adventure this big!

This is a medium-budgeted live-action rendition of the cartoon roles' feats in the ¨Star Wars¨ mold and characterized by He-man , Skeletor and many others . All of them blended together with wonderful and terrific special effects courtesy of Richard Edlund and special designs by Moebius .¨Masters of the Universe¨ is basically a lot of spectacular fight-scenes with a tiny bit of plot movement , full of sympathetic dialogue and flashy blasts of light and energy . It features stunted and disjointed action, as well as the hilarious but quite conventional characters partially fitting to the animated series . It includes abundant breathtaking images , which laboriously and mightily attempt to reproduce the source materials in some impressive scenes and eye-popping look .

After his nasty roles in in ¨Rocky 4 (85)¨ and ¨A view to kill (85)¨ , the Swedish muscle mountain Dolph Lundgren starred this film and followed by ¨Red Scorpion (90)¨ and ¨Universal soldier (92)¨ in his successful period during the 80s and early 90s . Lundgren has certain acting ability and charisma enough to play this kind of heroes . Based on cartoon and famous toys by ¨Mattei Inc¨ that proved to be one of the biggest hits of all time . However , the characters and story may aim a little more at kiddies than teenagers and adults . For comical relief in charge of Billy Barty with his antics , sympathy and jokes . Other support actors giving enjoyable acting in brief appearances are as follows : James Tolkan , Meg Foster , John Cypher , Chelsea Field , and Christina Pickles as the imprisoned sorceress . The special effects are well made by the presitigious Richard Edlund , all they're cracked up to be and set a new cinematic standard for realistic realization . Action scenes have the zip and excitement you'd expect . The motion picture was well directed by Gary Goddard in his only filmmaking ; subsequently , he has dedicated to production and 3D . This would-be epic , surrounding the genres : ¨Sword and witchery¨ and ¨Sci-F¨results to be an entertaining and fun romp through space and time.
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I have the power!!!!!
pax0329 June 2005
I love this movie, yes it has bad acting and cheesy effects but so did the original star wars movies, right?? the only thing star wars had was that intangible you cant describe when talking about movies. it had "it" Masters of the universe had "it" as well but i think it had a different kind of it. Frank Langella has probably the most underrated performances as the evil and sinister Skeletor, one of my votes as baddest bad guy in movie history if they had something like that... this is the Jack Nicholson performance of the Joker before Batman. I don't know why people are giving it such a low rating, there are a ton of movies that are a lot worse out there. You have to realize that this was made in 1987 and SFX weren't as good as they are today, but this had heart and it shows if you watch it. If you go into it watching for deeper meanings and all this other stuff that art fans go for, i can see why you'd bash it afterward. But if you go into it expecting a fantasy story and great sci fi action, you will not be disappointed... you might actually be surprised with it!
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It is much better that regarded
rar227 July 2005
I have read a number of reviews on this movie and they are accurate and good for the most part. My credit is to Gary Goddard for all he endured and still getting a credible and succinct movie made.

The fight scenes are real and actual so they seem methodical but they're great. The hair, clothing, make-up, special effects, and down the list we go, is so caked in '80s gunk it would be hard to fight for this as a classic. It is the only He-Man movie out there, and although a sequel beckons, eighteen years have passed without a stir.

If a sequel were to made Langella would have to be Skeletor. I mean the best acting from both he and Lundgren comes when He-Man is being led by the Centaurian. Langella saying "I give you a choice: return to Eternia with me as my slave and save their despicable lives, or perish with them here on this tasteless, and primitive, planet." It's cold and dark and it's authentic. It's chilling and you get chills. Langella overacts sometimes but mostly is great. He took Skeletor from a whiny, irritating, and downright pathetic worm of a guy to a believable, earthy, credible, and despicable evil-doer. We get a taste of the importance of He-man and all that he does, here in this scene, too.

Goddard did something brilliant here, he made the movie personable. He puts these people on Earth, interacting with Earthlings, and putting a grasp on how out there these "aliens" are. But it is also probably why this movie is so widely disregarded, because it doesn't have great and illustrative fight scenes. Instead they are sensible and plotted. To see this movie remade could be a real treat.

Gwildar is, essentially, Orco. He was easy, sensible, irritating, but not nearly as annoying, and unfairly Billy Barty was nominated for a Razzie. The story interlocks with this missing "key" as created by Gwildar. This cosmos idea of God-like power through the manifestation of a fourth dimension is highly advanced. This is why the movie is good. Portals are doors and He-Man is definitely a science fiction adventurer. This puts an Earthy spin on an idea wiling out.

Teela works and Man-in-Arms (Duncan) is good as a faithful sidekick to He-Man. That's what he is. He can hold his own but mostly is fighting for duty of right, and he follows He-Man for he is the epitome of it. Teela's gritty and pitched voice, with her desperate actions, are very formidable. Duncan is best when inspiring Kevin. Kevin is a sensitive guy with a talent. What these Eternians do is showcase pessimism on Earth for their planet is dying at their own hands. They are their own good and evil and it is hard to differentiate, so why care? By the end of the movie Courtney Cox and Robert Duncan McNeill (Julie and Kevin) see that. So does Lubic. The Eternians have no planet and yet they continue to hold hope and forge ahead: He-Man.

Tolkan is not so much a distraction as he is pretentious. McNeill yelling to Tolkan "Lubic this is for real" as he dodges a Centaurian blast doesn't hold much weight, or reality. It is about unity, division, and strength. Both literal and figurative.

Meg Foster is great as Evil-Lyn because she improves the movie rather than take time from Skeletor. Goddard lets most of the acting chops fall to the incomparable Frank Langella. He-Man is the ambassador of good. He is to talk slow, be level-headed, and search for justice. Lundgren does all of these things. He mission isn't to be malicious and blood seeking. When he runs into Julie (and a great fight sequence ensues) it is Duncan and Teela doing some leg work. He-Man is a protector. He'll abate killing Skeletor to keep any and all safe. In all honesty how many lines can you give someone? Someone suggested Brad Pitt as He-Man for a remake. I don't mind Pitt, but he would ham up the screen like some feel Skeletor did. Skeletor's was good, He-Man's would not be. Lundgren, in all honesty, is great. He has a mullet but looks the part, and contrary to popular belief, acts it. He wields the Sword of Grayskull gracefully, yet with force and some clumsiness. It's heavy, but he's well-skilled and versed in the sword. These oppositions are found in the Soceress. She would normally seem bad to us; however, she is the greatest power of good. Christina Pickles gives great lines of philosophy allowing for good banter and humor with Skeletor. And her love for He-Man is very evident and clear with solid acting.

The cartoon is hardly to be found here, aside from the characters and Eternia. Battle cat, and all other characters good and bad, could cloud a remake. But it would be great to see history revealed for He-Man like the new Batman series has done. People forget we like to see depth in our characters. And the character Charlie is filler, not unimportant, but certainly not integral. He's written well. All in all watch this movie because it's really, quite engrossing.
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All very agreeable.
Hey_Sweden3 March 2012
I suppose it does make a difference if one is like this viewer and loved the Mattel toys and the animated series as a child, so visiting this vintage big screen treatment is appealing enough to the kid that's still inside me who would have just lapped up something like this had he caught it when it first came out. I always thrilled for my dad to rent the tapes of the series. Now, of course, as an adult I can't help but laugh hearing something like "I HAVE THE POWER!!!!!!!", and see this as a very cheesy, silly affair, but again, it was meant for kids of the era and is still very likable.

Appropriately cast Dolph Lundgren is He-Man, battling with associates Man-At-Arms (Jon Cypher) and his daughter Teela (Chelsea Field) against the forces of cackling, demonic bad guy Skeletor (the great Frank Langella, unrecognizable under the mask). Skeletor desperately needs to get his hands (or should that be bones?) on a "cosmic key" devised by lovable imp Gwildor (Billy Barty); said key opens dimensional "doors" and transports various characters good and bad to Earth, where they raise all sort of hell in their battles, and two teen lovers, Julie (a young Courteney Cox) and Kevin (Robert Duncan McNeill of 'Star Trek: Voyager') get caught up in all of it, along with a flustered detective (James Tolkan).

The movie is quite easy to take from start to finish, with pacing that doesn't falter, lots of colourful visuals and effects, a score by Bill Conti automatically calling to mind John Williams' work for "Superman" and "Star Wars", and entertaining characters, although the villains definitely fare better than the heroes; Langella is commanding as Skeletor, and Meg Foster likewise delicious as Evil-Lyn. The four henchmen dispatched by skull face are an amusing bunch, especially the Beastman who looks rather like the character Alph from the futuristic action / exploitation flick "Turkey Shoot". But for this viewer, what makes this as much fun as it is, is the ass kicking character of Detective Lubic; Tolkan is hysterical in the role.

A nice diversion overall, with a funny surprise for anybody who sits through the closing credits.

Seven out of 10.
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drunk-231 August 1999
Not only does this film stand tall on it's own achievements but it is also clearly the inspiration for that well loved classic "Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time". It follows the mythos of the original He-Man mini comics (the ones that came with the toys) more than the plot of the animated series, as such He-Man is not secretly Prince Adam. (My fellow post teenage virgins as well as losers in general will probably understand what I'm talking about.) Anyway Langela proves the perfect Skeletor. Unlike the cartoon character he proves to be convincingly pure evil. I must say that he honestly did succeed in being one of the most terrifying villains in movie history. Hat's off to director Gary Goddard and the cast for taking the story entirely seriously and not just dismissing it as a campy hour and a half long toy add. It's that kind of conviction that distinguishes between art and commercial shlock. This movie also taught me some valuable life lessons. For instance, if a guy with a skull head gets massive god-like power the only real change he will make to his life is giving himself golden armour. (Both Skeletor and the Red Skull have done this.) I also learned that when some one gets god-like power, to defeat them all you need to do is push them into a muddy ditch. Having the characters travel to late 1980's earth made this movie all the better specially since they got to meet Courteney Cox (what a babe. Grrrowwlll). Why doesn't anybody ever ask her about this movie when she's on talk shows? Oh wait it's cause there's no reason they should care. Anyway if you don't have anything better to do give it a rent... and wait till the end of the credits for the secret surprise. You can probably find it at your local Blockbuster Video! Make it a Blockbuster Night!
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By the power of Grayskull!!!
coltras352 January 2022
On distant Eternia, Castle Greyskull has finally fallen to the might of evil Skeletor. Only He-Man can prevent him assuming power - but he is stuck on Earth!

It's unfortunate that this film gets a lot of negative views. Sure it's cheesy and hokey, but that makes it even more fun. It's an enjoyable romp right through with some good set-pieces, rousing 80's style action and a brilliant He-man in Dolph Lundgren, who fits the role to a T. But, of course, the actor who really boosts this film a few notches is Frank Langella, who literally eats up the screen. His portrayal as Skeletor eschews the whininess of the cartoon Skeletor, and delivers a gargantuan performance that oozes real menace and an evil mind.

Masters of the universe rips off a bit from Star Wars and isnt totally faithful to the cartoon, but it still an enjoyable romp that,unlike a slew comic book film adaptations of today, doesn't take itself seriously.
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I have the Power!! Oh wait. No i don't.
nickthegun26 November 2002
I was 9 when this first came out. I was amazed, excited and in awe. It was he-man! In real life! But then I started to think 'Wheres battle cat?' 'where are all skeletors henchmen?' 'why the hell isn't this set on eternia?' 'He-man can pick up mountains. Why is he getting his ass so beaten?'. And so it continued. The annoying midget took the place of Orko, was the icing on the cake! The problem with this film is, basically, that it was released 2 years too late. He-Man was hot in 1985. His popularity was on the wane. They also changed far too much. I know they probably relocated the story to Earth for budgetary reasons (a scrap yard is a cheaper place to have a battle than a 'mystical swamp'), but they could have at least kept skeletors old henchmen. Only Beastman survived and he was pretty lame. And don't get me started on the others. Aside from its cheapness and derivative nature, there are so many things wrong with this film. It is so unambitious. He-Man had the potential to weave a believable universe. It had established characters and conventions, it had mysticism and technology and a super hero lead. When you change that much you please no one. Fans of the original are disappointed and non fans have no interest. The only decent change they made was to include Mr Strickland from back to the future. That guy kicks ass! At least in the She-Ra movie they kept things the same. Now that was a tie in (note: Irony).
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I have the power... to award this 7 out of 10
one9eighty16 August 2018
I first watched this film in the 80's, as a child who was already a big fan of the franchise. I enjoyed the cartoon and I had a lot of the action figures and other toys. When I saw the film I was as happy as I was disappointed, before I go into that, and provide a review, let me tell you something about the film.

A long time ago in a distant galaxy (sound familiar?), evil Skeletor (Frank Langella) is mounting an attack on Castle Greyskull, a fortress of goodness and power supreme. The castles protector, the Sorceress Christina Pickles), has been captured by Skeletor, and only He-Man (Dolph Lundgren), the sorceress's champion and defender of good could save the day. He-Man is currently fighting his way to the castle with the help of Man-at-Arms (Duncan) (Jon Cyper), and his daughter, Teala (Chelsea Field) - head of the kings guard. On the way to the castle they have an accidental meeting with Gwildor (Billy Barty), an inventor and locksmith. His invention, a cosmis key, has allowed Skeletor the advantage in his attack on Castle Greyskull, Skeletor is hunting him to prevent him from inventing something to rival the original invention, little does Skeletor know, he's already made a duplicate key. A fight ensues, and in order to save themselves; Gwildor uses the cosmic key and opens a gateway, taking the good guys to Earth. In order to return to Eternia, the good guys have to work with native Earthlings - Julie (Courtney Cox) and Kevn (Robert Duncan-McNeil), while trying to stop them; Skeletor has opened a gate too and sends his henchmen. Can He-Man and his friends get back to Eternia and prevent Skeletor from becoming the master of the universe?

So then, first of all this is a decent fantasy - if you forget that the characters are based on cartoons, which are ultimately based on toys. The plot isn't that taxing or complex which makes it easy for a younger audience to follow, which will be run of the mill though, and familiar to older audiences. Other than Dolph Lundgren's acting as He-Man, the rest of the cast are conceivable and deliver well - notable mention to James Tolkan as Detective Lubic for playing a wise cracking hardened detective well. The choreography is generally quite cheesy and predictable, but it doesn't look stupid. The musical score by Bill Conti is actually really good, and Gary Goddard as director manages to push the film thematically and as a motion picture spectacle in a decent direction. The problems arise when you have a vested interest as a fan. I remember sitting in the theater thinking that He-Man didn't look right or sound right, the other characters didn't look or sound right, some characters and technology were made up for the film and didn't previously exist, and some were completely omitted. There were Stormtrooper like armies that Skeletor commanded (new and made up), there were characters missing such as Orco and Battlecat (albeit, these two would have been hard to execute as CGI character in the 80's). In fact, it's fair to say, the characters and places which did exist originally were just name sakes rather than a filmatic duplicate of what fans had come to expect. Writing all this makes me sound like an old fanboy with a chip on his shoulder about this film, but I truly enjoy it, maybe it's just nostalgia that drives that enjoyment but it's definitely not the worst film ever.

To summarise, if you like fantasy films that look like a cross between Star Wars and Flash Gordon with a twist of Back to the Future technology, then you'll find some enjoyment in this. I've got to give it 7 out of 10, because "I have the power"... to award it that much ;) Enjoy!
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Despite not being EXACTLY like the classic animated show, Masters of the Universe the movie is great!
Movie Nuttball14 November 2003
This is one of the great movies of the 80s in MY collection that I think about all the time.

I really don't understand why this movie is hated like it is. Sure it isn't like the classic animates show bit its a great movie! Dolph Lundgren was perfect for the part as He-Man! Frank Langella was excellent as Skeletor! He acting was flawless! I loved it! Meg Foster was perfect for Evil-Lyn as well! The music by Bill Conti is superb! In My opinion Its one of the greatest ever written for a film! The way the people were about the classic cartoon I would think that this movie would be on the greatest of all time list. I think its a wonderful movie! If you love He-Man I strongly recommend you watch it!
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The second most wonderfully cheesy movie of all time
bowmanblue20 September 2014
If it wasn't for the ultimate in sci-fi cheese-fest aka Flash Gordon in 1980, then Masters of the Universe would rightly hold the title. However, second place isn't bad. And nor is the film either.

If you're looking for Oscar-worthy performances, big-budget special effects and great character development then look elsewhere. This is NOT Avatar.

What this is is a tale loosely based on the classic eighties figures of He-man and co. On the planet of Eternia, the evil Skeletor is trying to take over the universe and it's up to He-man and his furry underwear to save the day. Of course this involves a trip to Earth to the only place in the world where no one takes any notice of large muscular men wielding swords in their Y-fronts.

It's very daft and you won't know whether to laugh or cry. But it's still enormous fun. It may not have the budget of the acting performances of Lord of the Rings, but with Lord of the Rings, you couldn't really cheer loudly for the characters as well as you can with Masters of the Universe.

This is fun for all the family (especially if you were either a young boy in the eighties - like me - or simply someone who can appreciate cheesy movies for what they are - also me). Don't take this too seriously - it was never meant to be that way. Just put your brain on hold and enjoy the silliness of the ride.

(Oh, and did I mention there's a very young Courtney Cox to see, long before the start of Friends!)
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almost good enough cheese
SnoopyStyle5 August 2013
Skeletor conquers Castle Grayskull. He-Man (Dolph Lundgren) and his friends escape with the help of the Cosmic Key. They land on earth but the Key goes missing. Teens Julie Winston (Courteney Cox) and her boyfriend Kevin Corrigan find the Key but are unable to understand it. Evil-Lyn (Meg Foster) tracks the Key with her minions.

To say that this is cheesy is to say the Pope is catholic. This is a live action movie based on the cartoon. It has cheesy FX. It has cheesy character costumes. It has cheesy acting from Dolph Lundgren. Yep the cheese is all over this thing. This certainly have its moments. It has some fun both intentional and unintentional. It's also noteworthy to see a younger Courteney Cox. I don't think it's quite cult classic or campy fun.
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Laughable, Boring and Lacks Any Real Energy
Michael_Elliott13 September 2011
Masters of the Universe (1987)

* 1/2 (out of 4)

Silly live-action version of the animated series has the planet of Eternia being destroyed by the evil Skeletor (Frank Langella) but some freedom fighters led by He-Man (Dolph Lundgren) are out to save it. As a kid I was a fan of the animated series but I remember my parents refusing to take me to the theater to see this feature because they thought it would be a waste of money. Over time I had grown apart from the series and it never really struck me to go back and watch this feature until years later. By the time I did get around to it I had forgotten the majority of the story lines from the original series but I'm not sure if that really played a part in my disliking of this so much. I will start off by saying this type of fantasy isn't normally my cup of tea but I'm one who believes that any movie can be enjoyed if it's well-made and especially if it's a good one. This, however, isn't either of those things as this cheap looking picture looks even worse today than I'm sure it did back in 1987. I think the biggest problem lies in the screenplay, which has an incredibly weak story, no character development and it seems really boring when the action goes to Earth. We get the typical type of humor of the newbies being on a new planet but there's not a single laugh to be had. The action scenes were all clearly inspired by STAR WARS but there's just not any excitement to any of them and after a while you can't help but start to look at the clock to see how much more there is. The bad thing about that is the film clocks in at 107-minutes, which is way too long for this type of thing. The performances have become somewhat of a cult over the years and it's easy to see why. Lundgren is never going to be confused for being a good actor but while watching him here I really started to wonder if perhaps he was smoking something strong or perhaps he had no idea where he was and what he was doing. He's certainly got the "look" of He-Man but as far as any type of performance you're certainly not going to get it here. Langella has the misfortune of wearing a really embarrassing mask and his constant screaming is certainly over-the-top but this at least brings a few smiles to your face. The supporting cast includes Meg Foster, Jon Cypher, Courteney Cox and the one and only Billy Barty. The laughable special effects really don't help much but I will admit that the entire film has a campy tone that might keep some entertained. Sadly, I wasn't one of them.
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Nostalgia just makes haters angry.
raceblakhart13 July 2019
This IS a great film. You just have to have been a child in the 80's to appreciate the magic of it all.

I was 6 years old when my dad took me to see this on the big screen. At age 6, this movie was about as enjoyable as going to Disneyland. Frank Langella's Skeletor was absolutely terrifying for me. But of course, anyone familiar with Frank Langella's acting knows that he can take any role and make it work. Even in a goofy fantasy film like this, his acting comes off as epic and strong.

The only real reason anyone would have any beef with this movie is if they are die hard fans of the comic or cartoon, as this movie obviously took plenty of liberties with canon.

That being said, if you can ignore that, it's a REALLY fun movie! And if you enjoy 80's special effects, this movie has a plethora.
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Unfortunately, a disappointment
the_mysteriousx23 October 2004
I hadn't seen this for 16-17 years and was hoping to be kind to it. I loved the old cartoon and toys when I was a kid, but this movie just does not have what it takes to be good in any way.

First of all, the story is terrible. Bringing He-Man to the cheesy 80s United States was a major mistake that could not be overcome. I mean, where's Prince Adam and Eternia? All we ever see of Eternia are 8 guys in bad costumes looking up at a projection of Skeletor on a stage.

The plots of the cartoons were actually totally superior (which is sad).

Dolph Lungdren is big, but has absolutely no charisma as He-Man. The other characters are simply there for the sake of being there. There is no connection between characters that shows any emotion. Not so ironically the best acting comes from teenager Courtney Cox. She doesn't have good lines, but at least she comes across as sincere, which is a talent of hers.

Evil-Lyn and Skeletor's mercenaries are completely wasted. Evil-Lyn does nothing other than continually walking onto scenes leading the drone troops.

We don't get to know any of these characters. In one of the many "what could have been" moments, Evil-Lyn puts an electronic choker around the teen boy's neck. The director stays on a dumb side-angle two shot of the two of them, when a good director at that moment would have gotten close-ups of them or of the device. We could then have seen the fear in the boy's eyes, or the glimmer of evil in Evil-Lyn's. Finally, when we do see a close-up it is way too late to evoke any emotion at all - the moment has passed. I could go on and on about such similar moments, but this is what distinguishes good directors from bad. Do you think Spielberg would have missed that moment?

Ultimately, the cheesy 80s decor, weak costumes, and awful opening titles also betray the film. Langella can't even save it with his hamming. It probably shouldn't have been made and came almost two years after He-Man's heyday of 1983-5. The effects were not able to do what was necessary and most of all, there are so many great characters from the toys and cartoons that are absent. Where's Stratos, Ram-Man, Trap-Jaw, Mer-Man, etc.??? Only Beastman, Teela, Man-at-Arms, and Evil-Lyn are here. What's worse is each is wasted.
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"I dare anything! I am Skeletor!"
utgard1415 September 2016
Cannon movie based on the popular toy line and cartoon series from my childhood. I should say loosely based, as it rips off everything from Star Wars to Flash Gordon, all the while borrowing precious little of worth from the He-Man mythos and purportedly being a tribute of sorts to Jack Kirby's New Gods. You could look at all those connections and say "well this just sounds like a pile of awesome" but you would be wrong.

I hated this movie with a passion when I was a kid, mainly because it felt nothing like the He-Man I knew and more like some generic sci-fi action movie that had the Masters of the Universe name attached. But over the years I've grown to appreciate a lot of movies I didn't like when they were first released. And I do appreciate this more than I did then, but I'm still not ready to say it's a good film. Its value is in its badness, particularly Frank Langella's delightfully campy performance as Skeletor. Unfortunately he's not in the entire movie. The bulk of the film takes place on Earth with He-Man and friends running around with Courteney Cox and trying not to be killed by the goons Skeletor has sent after them. Most of this is just boring.

Other than Langella, the cast is either adequate (Meg Foster, Courteney Cox, Jon Cypher, James Tolkan) or terrible (Billy Barty). Dolph Lundgren is wooden to the point that it makes his previous performance as Drago in Rocky IV seem like Hamlet. The budget is obviously very low and the costumes and special effects are cheesy. It's worth a look for fans of Cannon and He-Man. See it for the campiness and fast-forward to the Skeletor scenes.
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Good Journey?
David_Frames29 September 2003
A twisted exercise in wish fulfilment and post-bereavement fantasy in which Courtney Cox gets a chance to resurrect her dead parents killed in an air crash one year previously, aided by extra-terrestrial warriors whom have dominion over time and space. Director Gary Goddard fashions a disturbing dissection of grief and guilt in which Cox's Julie constructs a hyper-real fantasy world - an uneasy profusion of pop cultural artifacts (Star Wars, Children's Dolls and Action Figures) and the symbolic projection of repressed desire, particularly with regard to the device of the 'cosmic key'. It is both a literally employed narrative device to allow the visitation from Eternia, the alien world of Julie's dreams, and the restoration of her family in whose death she feels complicit but facilitates structures of fantasy in which Julie's need for escapism from her grief and the ability to alter the past become manifest in technology. The technology doesn't exist of course hence the need for Cox to invent her otherworldly heroes but also we become aware of the need the Cox character has to address the role that transport technology played in her parents death. Just as the plane killed them and blew their fragile bodies into millions of blooded and metal infused bits, David Odel's script suggests that an even more advanced instrument of transport can bring them back to life. The visitors themselves are supermen and animal like creatures, perfectly divided into easily coded forms of good and evil and subsequently a complexed play of light and dark is played out between 'He-Man' and Skeletor' in which the character's narcissistic identification with the conflicting emotions she feels surrounding her guilt complex are personified in an on screen war between these alien visitors. This might be an easy enough paradigm from which to judge the thematic and formal conventions employed in Masters of the Universe but the film itself provides more questions than it answers. What are we to make of the boyfriend Kevin (Robert Duncan McNeil) who is viciously beaten by the 'beast man'? As the narrative takes place in Cox's mind, characterisations of friends and partners are unreliable. McNeil is an idealised conception of ideal partner who is of course an extension of her dead father, namely supportive, loyal and alive. His vicious beating however suggests that in the midst of her catharsis revenge fantasies are being played out, the beast man the personification of rage and barely concealed contempt. The only conclusion is that McNeil's boyfriend has beaten his girlfriend in reality and probably subjected her to indecent sex acts and psychological torture. If his on screen personality is an idealised opposite then in reality he has propagated the notion that Julie killed her parents by choosing not to go to the lake with them that weekend. Furthermore the decaying father made flesh, i.e Skeletor (Frank Langella) compounds this notion by punishing her culminating in a physical attack that recalls the spectre of rotting decrepitude in her parent's burnt corpses. Ultimately then this is a children's film in which death, torture and suffering walk hand in hand with schizophrenic hallucination and Bill Conti. It's either the greatest diatribe on loss in modern cinema or an offensive mish mash of half-baked psychological projection and the Reganite culture of fear. Which is it? You decide.

Some good special effects.
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