Masters of The Universe: Revelation
The newest series in the Masters of the Universe Franchise will be available for streaming in just a matter of days and fans everywhere have been counting down the hours until they can revisit Eternia. So, what can they expect when they fire up Netflix to binge the new series from Kevin Smith?
First, you can expect to feel like you have been taken back in time and that you are watching your favorite eighties cartoon on a Saturday morning all over again. However, you may also feel like you have been transported back to 2002 when He-Man grew up in both a visual and a storytelling manner. That is the magic of Revelation! They have both captured the essence of the Filmation series yet at the same time bringing the visuals into the modern era and giving us a continuity-based storytelling approach that we always longed for throughout the eighties.
The visuals in this series are STUNNING! There is a set of somewhat ‘still images’ used in the introduction of the first episode that could each be framed and proudly hung in any die-hard fans home. They are that breathtaking! Then, the animation starts, and my goodness did they nail 99% of it! So many of the characters look better than they ever have. The Sorceress, Evil-Lyn, Beast Man and Teela come to mind as examples of this.
I will admit that I was not a huge fan on the actual character design of both Prince Adam and He-Man but that is a minor quibble when put up against how great everything else looks. Within the animation itself, it is quite easy to follow. The action sequences from a visual perspective are fantastic and they even were able to throw in some nods to the original series (look for Skeletor’s ‘Looney Tune’ face during this first 5-episode segment).
There has been much debate on if this is a continuation, a sequel, a spiritual sequel, a reboot etc. For me, it comes across as a perfect continuation of the Filmation series. You can very much tell that some die hard fans were somewhere behind the scenes with how carefully they crafted many tasteful nods and homages to the 1980’s show. Many times, it is simply a choice of dialogue or a subtle line that will resonate with anyone who grew up watching the series. What I appreciate most though is that it never feels forced or shoehorned in. It never comes across as ‘fan service’ in a negative or jarring manner. We see species represented in the background that are straight out of the original series, we see many nods to the vehicles that existed as toys in the eighties but were never really featured in the cartoon. They poke fun at some of the cheesy eighty’s dialogue and humor that we all grew to love. They also perfectly address things that existed in the original that whether, in that time, or later as adults we would sit back and go, ‘wait a minute’ about.
The introduction to this first part does a great job of balancing information and setting the stage for the series without coming across as just endless exposition. I was bummed that we did not get an actual theme song and that is not to take away from the score which provides a great soundtrack for the story, just something I personally was hoping for (as a theme song junkie). I realize people have been freaking out online because they do not want anything from the original ‘changed’ in any way. While some are still going to have temper tantrums once they see the series, really nothing has been changed! This is a CONTINUATION of the story, characters, relationships etc. As time passes all character’s age, all characters evolve, all characters are faced with new circumstances and must make new decisions. So, to say something has been changed would be grossly inaccurate. For example, Duncan could not be Man-At-Arms forever, that just is not realistic. So, who would you say is most skilled and set-up to take that position? People are so quick these days to overreact any time a female character is given any attention or time dedicated to them. They immediately have to attack and say that it is because of some liberal agenda, or some woke culture. These people need professional help. If you actually were a fan, a TRUE fan of the original series, you would totally understand every direction this series takes and every decision that has been made.
The original series was founded on the fact that a small group of our heroes know He-Man’s secret. This group includes, Man-At Arms, the Sorceress, Orko, and Cringer. There are many other ‘Masters’ that we meet along the way, but there is only ONE main protagonist that is kept in the dark about his true identity. This series would simply not work if it was centered upon how this secret effects Stratos or Buzz-Off. The only character that makes sense from an emotional standpoint and from a writing standpoint is Teela! So, to delve into the idea of what would happen if Teela discovers the secret, to me is a genius move. That does not take away from the fact that He-Man/Adam are still main characters in this story and are still crucial to everything that goes on throughout.
Another thing that I love about this series, is that it gives us stakes. This is not your run of the mill eighties cartoon (apart from Transformers) where you know 100% of the characters are going to survive every episode and be back to watch the following week. Characters die in this series, and although the internet is evil and tries to spoil everything for you, I will not do that quite yet. Suffice it to say that multiple characters die which means you cannot take anything for granted. You will be surprised at times, you will be emotional at times, and that is a GOOD THING! Autobots dying in Transformers was a good thing! Han Solo dying in Star Wars was a good thing! In life, people die, and it does a disservice to not deal with those types of ideas in all forms of media, yes even a cartoon based on a toy line!
I was also extremely impressed with the voice work throughout this series. The standouts are easily Liam Cunningham as Duncan and Lena Headley as Evil-Lynn. It feels like they were born to voice these characters! I LOVED hearing Alan Oppenheimer return to the franchise as Moss Man, I wish we would have gotten even more of him! Mark Hamill provides a slightly different take on Skeletor, and you can definitely pick out the Joker like stylings, but I still think he does a great job with the character. My biggest disappointments would be Kevin Conroy as Mer-Man and Alicia Silverstone as Queen Marlena. Do not get me wrong, Kevin Conroy does great voice work and is a great actor, it is simply a matter of the choice of the voice used for the character that left me desiring more. Not that everything must be how it was in the original but Mer-Man always has had a gargle/water sound to his voice and it was disappointing when this version did not have that. I will admit it also took me some time to get used to Sarah Michelle Gellar as Teela simply because it is just her normal voice, which is very recognizable. I Cannot help but wonder what it would have been like to have a voice over expert like Tara Strong or Grey Griffin providing that voice instead.
There is so much more I want to get into, but I want to do everything I can to avoid any type of spoiler material, so you, the fans can go in with an open mind and enjoy this for what it is! I try not to rank/grade things when they first come out due to the always unavoidable recency bias syndrome, but this easily has a chance to be one of the best series we have even received within this franchise depending on how the future part(s) play out. Are toxic fanboys going to freak out and say Kevin Smith ruined their childhood? Yes, of course they will, that is what those type of people live for. For the rest of you, with above average intelligence who do not still live in their parent’s basements and who can go into things with an open mind and judge things for what they are, not what they decided something was months before they ever saw it…. you are going to thoroughly enjoy Revelations! If you want to hear more of my thoughts, please check out our series of Podcasts on Masters of the Universe Revelation. Episode 125 where we have a spoiler free discussion on the series and Episode 126 where we get into all the interesting details!