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Houston! See two 35mm screenings of MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE this week

Before there was THOR: THE DARK WORLD, there was Fulbright Scholar Dolph Lundgren in a loincloth.

Houston! See two 35mm screenings of MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE this week

In 1983, Dolph Lundgren, an up and coming chemical engineer, was receiving a Fulbright Scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1987, a half-naked Lundgren was swinging a massive sword over his head, play-fighting with stage and film actor Frank Langella. Funny where life takes some people.

Lundgren, of course, is the star of MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, the 1987 live-action adaptation of the popular cartoon and toy line. Produced by the scrappy Cannon Films, MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE is an earnest attempt to translate high fantasy storytelling into a budget-conscious action spectacle.  The film is a colorful, action packed time capsule of both ‘80s childhoods and the physical perfection of outrageously buff geniuses. Catch two screenings of the film this November as part of Dungeons & Drafthouses, a celebration of fantasy films in conjunction with the release of THOR: THE DARK WORLD.

THOR and its sequel actually have quite a bit in common with director Gary Goddard’s 1987 He-Man movie. Both films are based on beloved childhood properties in which a muscular man-god travels to Earth to stop a magical enemy and save the universe from sure destruction. In MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, the glistening man-torso belongs to Lundgren. As He-Man, wielder of the power of Greyskull, Lundgren is a man of few words (this was only his second featured performance, after ROCKY IV), big weapons and bigger pectoral muscles. He is the leader of a rag-tag group of rebels who are attempting to rescue the land of Eternia from the rule of Skeletor, the skull-faced villain played by Langella.

During the course of his adventure, He-Man finds himself in modern-day America – thrown into the lives of two teenagers (Robert Duncan McNeil and Courtney Cox in early roles). What proceeds is pure childhood bliss – lasers, swords,  monsters and a multitude of explosions. MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE is a movie that knows exactly who its audience was – young children raised on too much sugary cereal and Saturday morning cartoons. MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE did not seek to gritty up the franchise – as so many modern-day cartoon adaptions do. The film is the same cut of swashbuckling, high-stakes adventure as classic serials – or comic book for that matter.

Director Goddard admitted that his vision of MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE is heavily influenced by the work of comic book artist Jack Kirby – and it shows. The touch of Kirby, the co-creator of characters such as the Fantastic Four, the New Gods and – yes – the Mighty Thor, is all over the final film – even though the producers didn’t let Goddard hire the artist to design the film as originally hoped.

Now that you’ve seen THOR: THE DARK WORLD – a movie that features battles between Asgardians and elves with laser guns! – take a trip back to your childhood with a 35mm screening of MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, the closest the ‘80s got to matching the meld of science fiction and fantasy that Marvel Studios knocked out of the park this weekend with their latest film. 

Buy your tickets here!

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