Sunday, 11 May 2014

Cinema's Finest Moments #5

Robert Duncan McNeill uses his rockin' keyboard skills to transport the gang back to Eternia 

Masters Of The Universe (1987)

The 80s were an interesting time for sword/sorcery, science fiction and the often ugly hybrids of both. We were given epics like Conan The Barbarian (1982), The Beastmaster (1982), Krull (1983) and Red Sonja (1985), all crucial titles for any self-respecting fan of blade-swinging, damsel-fucking action heroes with little to no acting talent. These films were gloriously dumb and blonde, and oh so beautiful to watch. However, muscle-headed as they were, none of those films ever tripped over their heels and sprained an ankle. If anything, they were more like the supermodel that plays dumb for the crowd because she knows that's what they expect of her. These films were visually pleasing, but had about as much depth as the infant's end of the swimming pool. Does that matter? Certainly not to me, sir, I embrace the sparkly cretinism and shiny colours, and so should you.

However, sometimes there comes a film whose idiocy isn't the result of a pina colada stained screenplay in the greasy hands of a seedy director, but rather the child of a shameful urgency to produce something that "the kids" will "totally dig". The latter is most certainly the case with Masters Of The Universe (1987).

I'm not going to go into too much detail with regards to the plot, but I'll say this above all else; when you have a sandbox for creativity in the setting of He-Man's world of Eternia, why the fuck would you set the majority of the film in present day Earth? Who in Hermes' balls decided to take a potentially epic sword and sorcery flick and turn it into a teenage love story that just so happens to involve rebel warriors from another dimension? I mean, that plot sounds kind of alright, if it had been executed well, but it wasn't, not at all. Masters Of The Universe has its moments, but overall, the setting of the film is like a beautiful girl covered from head to toe in fake tan. Something that could have been so, so pleasing, but ultimately let itself down by trying too hard to be chic.

Now, there is however one saving grace to this film that comes directly after the boilerplate "all is lost" scene. This isn't one of those game changing moments that sees the film cartwheel back into action though, rather it seems to accept just how fucking dazed it is and decides to plunge even deeper into the plasma pool, just 'cause. 

Robert Duncan McNeill plays your template 80's nu-wave kayboard player with no real interests other than his musical career and bangin' girlfriend (Played by Courtney Cox). Now if you've ever seen a PG flick from the 80s, you'll already know that it's characters like McNeill's that always seem to prove themselves useful towards the end of the film, while remaining mostly dumb and vacant up until that very point. In this case, He-Man (Dolph Lundgren) has been captured by the evil (and somewhat less effeminate than his cartoon counterpart) Skeletor, and it's up to the rest of the gang to try and find a way to return to Eternia and save him before the evil ruler breaks He-Man's spirit via one hell of a BDSM whipping session. 

But oh no, the Earth stranded gang are no longer in possession of the cosmic key which allows them to transport from dimension to dimension. How are they to save He-Man now? Oh, don't you fucking worry, Robert Duncan McNeill plays the keyboard and thus can mimic the musical tones released by the cosmic key on his pissy Rhodes electric piano. And that's exactly what happens. Gwildor the scientist dwarf invested years worth of time into creating a transdimensional key, an invention the likes of which had never been seen in the incomparably advanced world of Eternia, but a boorish American nu-wave kid saves the day with his crappy, dated keyboard, and manages to transport the rebel warriors back to Eternia just in time to save He-Man from a somewhat homoerotic doom.

Well done, Hollywood. Well fucking done.

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