Mattel’s legendary warrior is the focus of this documentary that shows how he went from toy to 80’s iconic cartoon and film to the 21st Century.
In 1981, Mattel was looking for a new toy and when they were nearly given the rights to make a toy based on the film Conan the Barbarian, they learned the film would be rated R and thus, the licensing never went through. However, a team of creators would use the idea of Conan with the idea of what’s popular and a new legend was born: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.
When He-Man was first unleashed, it became an instant hit among fans. Soon enough, an animation outlet, Filmation, would gain the rights to create an animated series based on the toy line and help structure the story of Eternia and with the help of comic artists, help mold He-Man’s alter ego, Prince Adam. As the He-Man train continued, Mattel capitalized with the creation of another hero in the form of She-Ra, who would be He-Man’s twin sister. Soon enough, Cannon Films would get the rights to make a live-action version that would deviate from the cartoon, making Mattel unhappy. However, with a new generation, He-Man eventually made a comeback, one that holds still today.
From the duo of Randall Lobb and Robert McCallum, this is a fascinating documentary about the history of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. It is extremely exciting to hear how exactly He-Man was born and where the concept came from. As the viewer gets to hear from the likes of former creative artists at Mattel as well as comic artists involved in the old days of the toy line, hearing how a classic 1980’s sword and sorcery film, Conan the Barbarian, would help influence the creation of He-Man. It is also great to hear how Castle Grayskull as born and molded, from something as simple as clay after the creative artist was unhappy with artists who showed him more complicated ideas.
The film then delves into the hit 1980s animated series, which ran from 1983 to 1985. Using a combination of archival footage from the late Lou Scheimer and interviews from the likes of Erika Scheimer, Gwen Wetzler (who helped break the mold as one of the first female animation series directors), and voice actor Alan Oppenheimer, the viewer gets to learn about the series and even gets a bit of an outlook about lead voice actor John Erwin, who was a bit shy outside the studio but stayed committed to the role in the studio.
This would lead to the creation of She-Ra, in which the creative artist who was credited to the concept of the character, expressed her displeasure for her original looks, which was based on Teela (Man at Arms’s daughter) before she was given full control. This led to the animated series as well, which two animators had different opinions of a certain character who randomly appeared in a Where’s Waldo fashion and at the end of the episodes, Lookie. Then came of course, Cannon Films’ 1987 adaptation of the toy line, in which it deviates from the cartoon. Here, the viewers get interviews with Dolph Lundgren, Frank Langella, Anthony De Longis, and production designer William Stout. Soon enough, the film delves into the character used in the 21st Century and it couldn’t have come at a better time with shooting set to begin this month on a new live-action film starring Noah Centineo as Prince Adam and He-Man.
Power of Greyskull lives up to the history of the iconic He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, from Mattel’s creating the toy to the animated series and first live-action film up to the character in the 2000s with one clear message: the Power’s legacy will forever live on!
WFG RATING: A-
High Octane Pictures presents a FauxPop Media production in association with Definitive Film and Pyre Productions. Directors: Randall Lobb and Robert McCallum. Producers: Isaac Elliott-Fisher, Mark Hussey, Randall Lobb, and Robert McCallum. Writers: Randall Lobb and Robert McCallum. Cinematography: Isaac Elliott-Fisher. Editing: Mark Hussey.
Cast: Dolph Lundgren, Frank Langella, Anthony De Longis, Richard Edlund, William Stout, Alan Oppenheimer, Brian Dobson, Cam Clarke, John Atkin, J. Michael Straczynski, Gwen Wetzler, Erika Scheimer, Tom Sito, Dean Stefan, Larry DiTillio, Mark Taylor, Ted Mayer, Paul Cleveland, Martin Arriola, Rudy Obreo, Val Staples, Arnaud Braun.
High Octane Pictures will release the film on DVD and Digital on September 3.