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when i was nine , i started buying the coolest toy figures in my local department store .
masters of the universe was the pinnacle of what i was after for action figures : they combined science fiction and fantasy , had cool names like mekanek and stinkor and each came with its own little comic book to read .
of course , the animated series produced by filmation remains one of the most wildly successful television products in world history .
given the tremendous success of the toys and the cartoon ( not to mention its moderately successful spin-off she-ra : princess of power ) , it was inevitable that a production company would put two and two together , come with the result of " trillions " and make a live-action masters movie .
let's be blunt : masters of the universe is a very bad movie .
the story is painfully dull and mind-numbingly cliched ( hands up who * wouldn't * guess he-man and skeletor take their fight into the real world ) and is acted out by either incredibly untalented actors ( dolph lundgren as he-man for one ) or good actors ( james tolkan , meg foster ) given such awful characters and dialogue that they can't help but seem terrible .
it is extremely clear that someone making the movie wanted it to be as good as star wars .
we have the alien bounty hunters , the desert skif technology , stormtrooper lookalikes and a musical score so reminiscent of john williams that " deja vu " is too polite a term to use in describing it .
" blatant uninspired ripoff " would appear more appropriate .
tv fans might want to check out courtney cox ( monica in friends ) and robert duncan mcneill ( lt paris in star trek : voyager ) , very early in their careers and not doing to well in them either .
so in the face of such mindless sub-mediocrity , is there anything to make masters of the universe worth watching at all ?
yes , there is .
one incredible good reason .
his name is frank langella .
langella has always been one of the underrated actors of hollywood , appearing in countless films over the years .
here he plays skeletor , the villain of the piece .
dressed in opulent black velvet robes and bearing a skull for a face , he is one part darth vader , one part emperor and two parts grim reaper .
given this character , langella falls right into it with style and precision .
skeletor is believable , interesting and manages to tread the fine line between being a homage to the past and startlingly original in his own right .
masters of the universe .
i remember loving it when i was eleven .
at twenty one it's difficult to see why .
but , as i said , it is blessed with a superlative villain who makes the entire thing worth the tedium of the remainder .
besides , this year marks the film's 10th anniversary .
watch it with some friends for a good laugh and celebrate .
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