Running time: 24 - 28 minutes
Voice Cast: Chris Wood, Mark Hamill, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Liam Cunningham, Lena Headey, Griffin Newman, Susian Eisenberg, Justin Long, Tiffany Smith, Diedrich Bader, and Alicia Silverstone.
3 out of 5 stars
Streaming on Netflix from 23 July
The original He-Man animated series of the '80s was actually titled He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe — an apt title, given that He-Man played a central role in every episode. He-Man was the musclebound hero of the eponymous series, who became the most powerful man in the universe whenever he held aloft his Sword of Power and called upon the power of the mystical Castle Grayskull. The new Netflix series, Masters Of The Universe: Revelation, is a sequel to the '80s series and carries on where it left off, albeit with more sophisticated animation. There have been rumours that since He-Man's name was not in the title of the series, the titular hero would not play such a big part in the series. And that holds true for the first part of this series.
The new story focuses on the fate of the planet Eternia after a cataclysmic clash between He-Man and his arch-nemesis Skeletor leaves the world torn asunder. The first five episodes of the series focuses on the protagonists travelling to heavenly and hellish realms to save the universe. The next five episodes will be released at a later date. This review focuses on Part 1, the first five episodes.
The first thing you'll notice about the series is how amazing the animation is. All the characters have been given anime-esque makeovers which adhere to their classic designs, but with new details and updates befitting that of a series made in the 2020s. Likewise, the animation is fluid and the fights are spectacular, with epic, evocative battles in every episode. The characters have been brought to life in a manner that is truly befitting of the Masters of the Universe. Even He-Man (Chris Wood) gets a transformation sequence (that feels like it came from an anime) when he calls out "I have the power!"
The series also knows that there's a lot of nostalgia riding on it, so it opens in a way that feels familiar and friendly. The voicing of the characters are immediately recognisable, with the same speech patterns of the '80s series, complete with the usual banter and a sly nod to how corny He-Man can be, given that he's ultimately "a teenager that doesn't get out much" after all. Skeletor (Mark Hamill) still cackles and berates his henchmen.
You have all the classic locations given the spotlight in the series, such as Castle Grayskull (which holds mystical secrets that both factions battle over) and Snake Mountain (the lair of the villains), as well as familiar vehicles and supporting characters appearing in every episode. There are plenty of Easter eggs hidden in every episode, such as the Three Towers and Kuduk Ungol, that will be appreciated by long-time fans.
However, the series also adds new elements which segue well into the existing lore of the series. It takes ideas and concepts that have only been seen in the toys, mini comics and other media, and builds upon them for the show. We finally get to know who/what Scare Glow is, and the protagonists explore the rest of Eternia, venturing into Preternia and Subternia — both of which are completely different from what previous media have depicted them to be. These refreshing new elements are what engage the viewers, creating curiosity about these heretofore unmentioned aspects of Eternia.
While He-Man's love interest Teela (Sarah Michelle Gellar) gets the lion's share of character development in the show, Skeletor's minion Evil-Lyn (Lena Headey) also gets a large amount of screen time that sheds light on her background, easily making her the most interesting character on the show. Orko (Griffin Newman) and Roboto (Justin Long) also get a good deal of the spotlight in the show. One thing you'll notice is that the series doesn't shy away from killing characters at all. So fair warning — there are a good number of deaths in the series, and some characters actually get more than one death (but you'll have to watch the series to find out why!).
Unfortunately, He-Man plays a much smaller role in the series than expected. You do get to see He-Man in literally every episode, but it's clear that he's not the central character of the series (nor is his secret identity, Prince Adam). For fans who were expecting to see more He-Man action in a Masters of the Universe series, this is a huge disappointment. While it can be argued that He-Man doesn't have to be the main character since his name is not in the title of the show, his name is synonymous with the Masters of the Universe. The only other media where He-Man doesn't appear is in one story arc of a Masters of the Universe comic, but that's because Prince Adam and Teela were captured and trying to escape, and Prince Adam is He-Man. It's quite a letdown to find out that He-Man isn't the one saving the day in this series.
Overall, Masters of the Universe: Revelation Part 1 is executed as brilliantly as possible, with one glaring flaw — there's too little He-Man in the show. If that could have been rectified in some way, this would have been the perfect Masters of the Universe show. However, there will be five more episodes of the series in Part 2, so we may still get to see more He-Man yet!
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