Review by Jason Godbey, Creative Director, Behind the Rabbit Productions
He-Man and the protectors of Castle Grayskull battle Skeletor and the evil forces of Snake Mountain… again.
This weekend Netflix released the first five episodes of Masters of the Universe: Revelation, the latest reboot of the Masters of the Universe franchise. Based on the toy line from Mattel, the original television series, He-Man Masters of the Universe was released in 1983 and made into a live action film in 1987 starring Doph Lundgren and Frank Langella, and the series was rebooted back in 2002.
The writing by showrunner Kevin Smith and his writing team has our heroes in peril right from jump which draws us into the story. We begin with a battle at Castle Grayskull much like every episode of the 1983 series, but unlike the original series, this version of the Masters of the Universe has the story unfolding over the entire series.
Another main difference lies in the style and tone of the series. In Revelation there are real stakes and consequences to the actions of the heroes and villains, and the characters grow and change over the course of the series. No one would have thought to do this in the 80s. It’s far too risky. The audience was considered too unsophisticated to grasp this kind of storytelling, but now this type of depth of character and story is what audiences demand. The biggest revelation of Revelation is the depth of the mythology and characters that has only been hinted at in the previous incarnations.
Masters of the Universe: Revelation has an impressive all-star voice cast including: Chris Wood as Prince Adam/He-Man, the great Mark Hamill as Skeletor, Sarah Michelle Gellar as Teela, and Lena Headey as Evil-Lyn. The performances are exceptional all the way around, and the caliber of talent cast for this project shows just how highly the creators regard the material.
Opting for a more anime style of animation, Revelation is miles ahead of the original series. Directors Adam Conarroe and Patrick Stannard pack the show with some amazing fight scenes and impactful moments. The characters and world of Eternia feel real and have a lived-in look.
The original series was essentially a 20 minute commercial designed to make kids beg their parents for He-Man toys. Full disclosure: I was one of those kids, and yes I had the toys. I even had the Castle Grayskull playset. The latest series with showrunner Kevin Smith at the helm feels like it was designed for superfans of Masters of the Universe (or MOTU as they call it) and kids like me who were the right age for the original 1983 series and still sort of remember it. Revelation can also work for actual kids who have an interest in fantasy, but I wouldn’t say it’s for little kids. It’s rated PG for some violence and scary imagery.
The series is an easy binge at roughly 25 minutes per episode, and because it’s on Netflix the episodes flow like water one into the next. If you’re a Generation X kid with nostalgia for power swords and monsters or if you want to explore the world of MOTU, I highly recommend Masters of the Universe: Revelation.