Reviewer's Rating 3 out of 5  
Masters of the Universe DVD (1987)

The battle for Eternia went live action in 1987 with this fairly ambitious movie adaptation of the popular He-Man cartoon series.

Made by Cannon Films, it was - by their standards - a big budget project at $17m. In typical fashion, what was already a scaled-back figure was then put under further pressure. This forced many changes on the direction of the movie, which director Gary Goddard discusses to some extent on the DVD.

TECHNICAL FEATURES

Picture Although some scenes are a little on the soft side, this is a reasonable transfer with good colours throughout. This is also the first opportunity for anyone who didn't catch the film at the cinema (that will be most of you!) to see the movie in widescreen, thereby allowing you to appreciate the scale of the sets.

Sound A new 5.1 mix would have been nice, but the 2.0 surround track we get is a lively affair with plenty of rear speaker effects.

SPECIAL FEATURES

Audio Commentary This project was Gary Goddard's first job as a director, and with the average movie budget in 1987 being $6m, the film was a daunting experience.

Goddard often hints at the budget and schedule pressures he was put under by Cannon, but, like most people who worked for this extraordinary indie company, doesn't ever go into much detail about the problems faced. Cannon were notorious for rushing projects out as cheaply as possible, but this was by any standards a big effort, as Goddard reveals.

The throne room was one of the largest sets to have been built in Hollywood for ten years, taking up two soundstages joined together. Former Lucas organisation talent Richard Edlund supervised the special effects, while Anne Coates of "Lawrence of Arabia" fame took on editing duties. Goddard shot many scenes in 65mm to get the kind of scope he required.

Yet despite such grand investments, Cannon didn't allow him to film the final battle he wanted. This left an ending that didn't make sense, forcing Goddard to donate some of his fee to shoot a scene that explains what happens to Skelator.

Goddard goes into a lot of technical detail and is interesting to listen to, but he hints at stories he sadly doesn't tell. It's frustrating, and given what a massive smash this title was on video in its day, this DVD could have offered more. In particular, a sequel was advertised at Cannes but never made, with the script used instead on "Cyborg", with Jean-Claude Van Damme. A good opportunity for a featurette on that story has been missed.

Additional Extra Features Also on this DVD is a trailer.

TECHNICAL INFORMATION
Chapters: 30
Ratio: 1.85:1 (anamorphic)
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 (surround)
Audio Tracks: English and French
Subtitles: English and French
Captions: English
Menus: Static, with music
Special Features Subtitles None of the special features come with subtitles.

This DVD was reviewed on a JVC XV-N5 DVD player.

End Credits

Director: Gary Goddard

Writer: David Odell

Stars: Dolph Lundgren, Frank Langella, Meg Foster, Billy Barty, Courteney Cox

Genre: Action, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Length: 105 minutes

Cinema: 1987

DVD: 16 June 2003

Country: USA