Masters of the Universe

A Star Wars spoof posing as a He Man film that somehow manages to be both awful and brilliant

What it’s about

Skeletor has taken the sorceress prisoner, and is draining her of her power as he chases the power of the greyskull which he got would make him the most being in the universe. He-Man and his companions must stop him, but in their fight to do so they end up on planet Earth.

My thoughts

This is one of those fabulously awful films, one of those films that is so awful that it somehow manages to be hilariously brilliant. First thing’s first, though it is supposed to be a He-Man it is in fact more of a Star Wars spoof, though there are no light sabres there are what are basically storm troopers, just they are wearing black armour rather than white.

There are also laser guns which, just like in Star Wars, seem to be the most inaccurate weapon on earth and in fact despite the fact throughout it appears that it would be harder to miss than hit He-Man and his crew, the bad guys keep managing to miss.

Also though there are no light sabres, He-Man does repel lasers using his sword. And I’m going to throw in a little bit of a spoiler alert here, but the way the bad guy gets dealt with in the end, if you’ve seen the end of Star Wars episode six, then you’ll recognise the moment.

But somehow despite all of this, perhaps because of all of this, this film is simply hilariously brilliant. Dolph Lundgren plays He-Man and looks the part, also I suspect the reason for his muscles being so bulging throughout is because he never at any point holsters his sword, like literally no matter what he never puts that sword down.

Then there are his co-stars, Billy Barty plays Gwildor, a character who resembles a cross between the Lord of the Rings Gandalf and Gimli; Frank Langella plays Skeletor, Courtney Cox also stars in this film, so there are some decent stars in this film and all of them do their best to work with the script that they have.

Though despite Frank Langella putting in a Shakespearean esque performance as Skeletor (not sure if that is a compliment or not in this case), the star performer is without question Dolph Lundgren, like said he very much looks like He-Man (despite his outfit), there is no disputing that, but at the same time he manages to look throughout the entire film like he is thinking what the hell is going on here. He really just appears to be thinking that I can’t believe this is actually happening, have I really signed up for this film, and somehow that makes it brilliant. Maybe I just imagined this but I definitely felt like that was what the expression his face was saying.

The reason that this is so brilliant is because as you watch it, all you will be thinking is, what the hell is going on here, am I really watching this, has somebody really made this?

The answer will be yes to all those questions, and the reason you will keep watching it is because it is so awful you just have to keep watching. And I imagine the reason the actors kept on acting was because they were having a lot of fun – perhaps the actors being under contract played a part but it certainly looked like they were having fun.

It should be said at this point that if you’re not a fan of films that are so awful they are brilliant, and you don’t see the hilarity in them, you will really hate this film. But if you are able to take pleasure in films that are so awful they are brilliant, then you will in all probability love this film.

Of course the majority of He-Man fans hate the film, most likely because when they heard that their favourite cartoon character was about to hit the big screen, and that Dolph Lundgren was to be the star, they were probably imagining something quite different to what this film is, which is like said basically a pantomime style Star Wars spoof.

But this film is what it is, and like said I enjoyed it very much specifically because of how awful it truly was, and for that reason from me it gets a solid thumbs up. And I have to say I give much credit to the actors in this film for having fun with this film.

​Director: Gary Goddard

Writer: David Odell, Stephen Tolkien and Gary Goddard

Genre: action, adventure, fantasy

Year: 1987

​Runtime: 106 minutes

Romancing the Stone

A fun film that is the epitome of 80s escapism style cinema

What it’s about

After coming into the possession of a treasure map, Joan Wilder, a romance novelist and hopeless romantic, is forced to fly to Colombia to try to save her sister who has been taken by people who want that map. But after taking the wrong bus she finds herself partaking in an epic adventure through the jungles of Colombia with the dashing Jack Colton, all the while being hunted by all those who want the map and the treasure it leads to.

My thoughts

This film stars Michael Douglas along with Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito, and is a bit of a cult classic which is especially legendary for the chemistry between Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner.

It is an action adventure romance, which means it’s one of those films that are more targeted at families and couples, specifically the type where one person likes action adventure and the other likes romance. This film merges the two creating a compromise, and if any person wanted to find a film that was a perfect example of an action adventure romance from the 80s, this would be the film they would most likely watch. In fact you could argue that this film was the epitome of mainstream 80s style escapism cinema.

The story itself is basic like many mainstream films from the 80s, but in that is its power, it makes for easy watching. Joan Wilder, played by Kathleen Turner, is a hopeless romantic who writes adventure romance novels, Jack Colton, played by Michael Douglas, is the smarmy but dashing Errol Flynn wannabe while Danny DeVito plays Irn, a sort of good guy bad guy – he wants the treasure but doesn’t agree with his brother’s methods of kidnapping to get it though of course goes along with it anyway.

And what happens is Joan Wilder receives a treasure map, which Danny DeVito’s brother wants, so they kidnap Joan Wilder’s sister and hold her to ransom for the map. But there is somebody else who wants the map, Manuel Ojeda’s Zolo, and he tricks Kathleen Turner’s character into taking the wrong bus.

From there she embarks upon an adventure of a lifetime through the Colombian jungle, the sort of which she has spent her lifetime writing about but never experiencing herself. But the question is is the man she has enlisted the help of the man of her dreams, the one she has been looking for, or is he just a con artist who wants the treasure for himself dum dum dum. I’m sure you can probably get the gist of what the answer is.

Truth be told find a person who enjoys this genre that can find a negative thing to say about this film and you’ll be lucky, even a person who does not like the genre would be unlikely to find anything negative about it, other than the fact that they don’t like films of this genre, and that is because this film has definitely found that magic spark, the unexplainable thing that some films find and just have which makes it a classic.

There is nothing wholly special about this film and yet there is something about this film that makes it special, on top of that perhaps the best thing about this film is the fact that not only does it have this factor it also has a great feel good factor, top of that it is a film that just has that great feeling of niceness about it.

Or rather there is nothing nasty or untoward about this film which a lot of modern-day films of the same genre struggle to accomplish. So it is 80s style cinema escapism at its best, and I can imagine that a hundred years from now this will be one of the films that will still be being watched. Not as a first choice, not even as a second choice but as that film that you watch with family when you can’t find anything decent to watch and just want to have a nice easy watch before bed.

And in reality that is the power of this film, it is such an easy watch that you can watch it again and again, not because it is an amazing film but because it does what it is supposed to do so well, that is give you a little escapism, leave you with a feelgood factor and above all entertain you, and in that is what makes it a classic. Which means from me it gets a big thumbs up, and if you can’t find anything to watch and are looking for a compromise film, an easy watch classic with action and romance from a time when the world was a lot less complex, this may just be the film you’re looking for.

​Director: Robert Zemeckis

Writer: Diane Thomas

Genre: action, adventure, romance

Year: 1984

​Runtime: 106 minutes

Gandhi

A Brilliant Look at One of History’s Greatest Practitioners of Nonviolence

What it’s about

A lawyer, Mohandas Gandhi, returns to British India from South Africa. He begins a nationwide campaign of non-violent resistance against the British rule, pressuring Britain to liberate India.

My thoughts

Gandhi’s life was so vast and filled with so many events and narratives that trying to tell his life story in a film would simply be impossible.

But that’s why this film works, it does not try to instead it tries only to give a brief snapshot of his motivations and methods for bringing about independence, specifically focusing on his penchant for using nonviolence. 

And it does this really well, meaning if you wish to know what it was Gandhi was fighting for, how he fought for it and what it was he had to overcome to achieve his goal, this film will give you an insight into the answer while at the same time entertaining you.

Of special note is Ben Kingsley’s performance as Gandhi, which alone makes the film worth watching. All in all a great biopic drama, which is most definitely worth watching which means it gets definite thumbs up from me.

Director: Richard Attenborough

Writer: John Briley

Genre: biography, drama, historical

Year: 1982

Runtime: 170 minutes

Gandhi

A Brilliant Look at One of History’s Greatest Practitioners of Nonviolence

What it’s about

A lawyer, Mohandas Gandhi, returns to British India from South Africa. He begins a nationwide campaign of non-violent resistance against the British rule, pressuring Britain to liberate India.

What you will learn from watching it

This film is not a documentary as such of Gandhi it is more a snapshot of his motivations and methods for bringing about independence, but in that is its power.

The majority of texts about Gandhi which that are worth reading are long and detailed, which means they are either unappealing or inaccessible to the majority of people, especially those with only a passing interest.

This film provides the solution to that problem. By presenting what it was Gandhi was fighting for, how he fought for it and what it was he had to overcome to achieve his goal, and presenting all that in an easy to watch narrative, any person can gain a simple understanding of just who Gandhi was.

And that’s what people will gain from watching this film, a basic insight into just who Gandhi was and what it was he fighting for.

Is the story any good

To put it simply, yes. Gandhi’s real-life story in itself is an amazing story, and the way a small part of his story is told in this film captures that brilliance, a fact that both director Richard Attenborough and writer John Briley deserve much credit for.

It is both riveting and gripping throughout, and most definitely does a good job of making clear just how not black-and-white things that we believe should be black-and-white are.

Final words

Whether you are interested in Gandhi as a person or not, this film is still most definitely worth watching even if only for gaining an understanding of the power of nonviolence for bringing about change.

That means, all in all this film gets a big thumbs up from me.

Director: Richard Attenborough

Writer: John Briley

Genre: biography, drama, historical

Year: 1982

Runtime: 170 minutes