‘Masters Of The Universe’ tries to find another screenwriter to make it work

Columbia seems determined to get a new version of “Masters Of The Universe” into theaters, and I have to wonder who the audience is that they believe is eagerly anticipating this project.

Terry Rossio has been hired as the latest screenwriter to take a crack at the material, and while the story by Borys Kit at the Hollywood Reporter mentions that the project used to be called “Grayskull,” that’s actually a different incarnation of the film altogether. That was the 2008 version, developed by Joel Silver and written by Justin Marks. This new version, which is set to be produced by Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal and Steve Tisch, had John M. Chu attached as director for a while. Basically, Chu seemed set to become the official caretaker of Things ’80s Kids Loved, but it appears he is now off the film.

Frankly, I don’t get it. “Masters Of The Universe” was a ridiculous and nonsensical cartoon. Hell, the Justin Marks draft of the script had the credit “Based On The Characters by Mattel,” which seems about right. Plastic and silly, I never understood why anyone would actually watch the show repeatedly, and even throwing someone like Rossio at the problem doesn’t seem like it guarantees that you’re going to end with something that is actually coherent and interesting.

When I write about how I consider nostalgia a form of cultural cancer, this is exactly what I’m talking about. This is a decision being driven entirely by the idea that people are out there anxious to see this simply because they remember it from the ’80s. Not everything that people remember is worth doing again, but all nostalgia is treated as equal when it comes to business, so if there’s any chance people remember something, then you can count on Hollywood exploiting it for money.

Even the character names in “Masters Of The Universe” are absurd. Prince Adam turns into the magical He-Man whenever he holds up his magic sword and says, “By the power of Grayskull, I have the power!” He’s got friends like Battle Cat and Man-At-Arms, and he battles the uber-silly Skeletor. I have an innate problem with a show that was created to sell toys, and while there is certainly plenty of marketing and merchandising done for all sorts of things I like, this is different. This was created by a toy company, and every single story told was told simply to serve as advertising for those toys.

Even so, hiring Terry Rossio would seem to indicate that Sony is taking this seriously, and if he manages to turn in a script they love, then you can count on seeing a major media blitz for “Masters Of The Universe” in a few years. Let’s see if they ever find a story worth telling or characters interesting enough to carry a film, or if this all just ends up being a big gross cash-in designed to once again punch a bunch of ’80s kids right in their wallets because they are helpless to resist something that is based in some tenuous connection to their childhood.