January 25, 2014

Podcast Episode 6: Drunken Oscar Speculation From The MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE

"Never think while you're hungry."
What can I say about Masters Of The Universe, other than it feels like a massive fuck-up on nearly every level?  It's an absolute mess that's bordering on unwatchable, a movie that's begging for grand scale and spectacle but whose major battle sequences take place not in the far off realm of Eternia, but in a high school gymnasium and a small town music store in southern California.  Dolph Lundgren is probably out-acted by his own pectoral muscles and Frank Langella wastes away under a pretty unfortunate skull mask while a teenage Courtney Cox and Lt. Tom Paris from Star Trek: Voyager run around in circles with a magic music box.  It's complete schlock, hardly a shock coming from the dynamic duo of Golan/Globus and The Cannon Group.  Sadly, it's not even very entertaining schlock.

But I almost feel bad piling on.  Doing a little research it seems that this was a production doomed from the very start, constantly behind schedule and running over budget ($22 million!) to the point that the studio literally shut down filming before the final battle was shot and director Gary Goddard had to plead for an additional two days just to finish the movie.  Popular characters like She-Ra and Battle Cat were nixed to save money and while most people criticized the movie for bearing so little resemblance to the popular cartoon, it turns out that Cannon bought the rights to the toy line before the cartoon ever existed.  Not only that, but there are some weirdly awesome "what ifs" that never quite materialized around the film, like a Planet Of The Apes-esque alternate ending that would have had He-Man discovering an old NASA flag on Eternia and thus implying that all of Eternian civilization stemmed from some future Earth space mission, or a proposed sequel to be directed by Albert Pyun that would have had He-Man (recast as professional surfer Laird Hamilton) returning to Earth disguised as a professional quarterback and ending with Skeletor turning Earth into an apocalyptic hellscape.  Now that I would have loved watching.

Masters Of The Universe ultimately feels like an easy target, so when it came time to record our sixth podcast episode we quickly changed gears to talk about the Oscar nominations.  In the ensuing week there have been some interesting developments, namely the Producer's Guild awarding their Zanuck award to both Gravity and 12 Years A Slave.  The PGA's have successfully predicted the Best Picture winner for the last six years (they're 17 for 24 in total) and it's the first time in 25 years they've ever had a tie.  This came only a day after the SAG awards named American Hustle Best Ensemble as well as handing acting awards to Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club.  Hopefully this means that American Hustle's star is falling and 12 Years A Slave will eek out the Academy's big prize.  I'll be watching Dallas Buyer's Club this week so I'm going to reserve judgement there, although considering the incredible work by the likes of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Fassbender and Jonah Hill, let's just say that I remain skeptical.

We then invited my wife Jamie to join us on the mic and segued into a discussion of the longstanding Woody Allen controversy, recently rekindled after he was given a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes.  It's a tough topic and perhaps we shouldn't have attempted to tackle it considering our lack of sobriety, but I'm feel pretty okay with how it turned out.  There is one thing I'll clarify here: Jamie makes a reasonable point that, considering what he's accused of, perhaps Woody Allen shouldn't still be able to attract studio support and funding along with A-list talent in front of the camera.  But given that it's been 20 years and Allen is clearly going to continue making films, and given that film itself is an evolutionary medium in which every filmmaker grows based on the influence of their peers, I think it's impossible to completely discount or ignore the contributions that Allen brings to the art of film.  I love a lot of Woody Allen's films, but that doesn't mean I have to embrace Woody Allen the man.  I certainly feel morally conflicted about the whole thing, but I guess it's a conflict I can live with.  To bring it back to the Michael Jackson comparison that Bart made, it's impossible to think of Michael Jackson or hear one of his songs without thinking of all the drama surrounding his life and the inappropriate conduct of which he was accused.  But that doesn't mean you have to walk off the dance floor and plug your ears in protest whenever a wedding DJ plays Thriller.

Last but certainly not least, our podcast is now officially on iTunes!  That means you can subscribe and automatically get all the latest episodes by searching for "Daley Screening" or clicking right here.  I'm pretty psyched about it, as iTunes has become the repository for all things podcast and our presence there kind of makes this whole thing feel a bit more legit.  You can find all of our previous episodes there except for the very first one, as I still need to re-edit it due to some copyright issues.  Maybe I'll throw it on there eventually as a special throwback or something.

Title: Masters Of The Universe
Director: Gary Goddard
Starring: Dolph Lundgren, Frank Langella, Courtney Cox, Robert Duncan McNeill, Billy Barty, Meg Foster, Jon Cypher, Chelsea Field, James Tolkan, Christina Pickles
Year Of Release: 1987
Viewing Method: Netflix DVD

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