MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: REVELATION Review - Kevin Smith's Revival Takes The Story In A Bold New Direction
Masters of the Universe: Revelation Part 1 will be available to stream on Netflix from this Friday, and you can find out what we made of Kevin Smith's take on the classic animated series right here...
If you grew up in the '80s, there's a very good chance you were a He-Man fan. The Saturday morning animated series was based on a best-selling Mattel toy line, and followed the adventures of a muscle-bound warrior who, along with his various allies, fought to protect the secrets of Castle Grayskull from Skeletor and the forces of Snake Mountain.
If you watched an episode now, chances are you'd find the whole thing more than a little silly, but for an entire generation, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is fondly remembered as a captivating introduction to the world of sci-fi/fantasy.
Kevin Smith's Masters of the Universe: Revelation serves as a sequel (of sorts) to the classic series, as Skeletor continues his attempts to overthrow Grayskull and defeat He-Man once and for all. But whereas the original show took a "rinse and repeat" approach to He-Man foiling the villain's schemes, the first episode makes a bold narrative decision which takes the story in an entirely new and unexpected direction.
This will hardly be considered a spoiler at this stage, but yes, Teela does wind up emerging as the main focus of this show. Prince Adam's protector was one of the few major characters to be kept in the dark about her charge's secret identity, and Revelation deals with her reaction to learning the truth.
Teela abandons her responsibilities as the King's new Man at Arms, and when we catch up with her some time later, she's working as a mercenary with Andra (a brand-new character). However, a plea from the now diminished Sorceress forces her to rejoin old friends - and a few foes - on a mission to restore magic to Eternia.
Some are bound to take issue with this, but it really was the smartest decision Smith and his team could have made. He-Man is an all-powerful archetype, and while that worked for the basic premise of the '80s show, it simply makes more sense to spotlight the more well-rounded - and, let's face it, far more interesting - Teela for this revival. Also, it's not like He-Man/Adam is completely absent (it'd give too much away to elaborate, but he's still an important aspect of the story).
From a tonal standpoint, Revelation is undoubtedly more "grown-up" than its predecessor. That's not to suggest that it's unsuitable for kids, but it is a little darker, and explores more adult themes. We also say goodbye to a few beloved characters, and while we don't know for sure if those deaths will stick, they certainly pack a wallop in the moment.
The show does still retain a sense of fun, though, and Smith doesn't completely abandon the wholesome kitsch of the original. As for the voice-cast, Buffy alum Sarah Michelle Gellar does most of the heavy lifting as Teela, but pretty much everyone is on-point - though some may feel Mark Hamill channels a little too much of his Joker as Skeletor!
Masters of the Universe: Revelation retains much of the hokey charm of the '80s cartoon, while introducing some much-needed dramatic heft. Some old-school fans may not be overjoyed with the story choices, but most would agree that this franchise was in need of a fresh coat of paint, and the show succeeds in adding new dimensions to its characters.
The first 5 episodes ("Part 1") will be available on Netflix from this Friday, and if you were one of those kids glued to his TV all those years ago, we highly recommend checking it out.