It’s no secret that sequels will oftentimes fall short of intended expectations.
Granted, this is not always the case. However, for every Wrath Of Khan and Dark Knight, there always seems to be a Robocop 2 or Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull! Of course, it is never the intention of those involved to make a bad sequel – especially when it comes to expanding upon a beloved franchise like Star Wars or Superman.
No, at least at the outset, the team will approach the project with the best intentions. And yet, as Alan Grant once said: “Some of the worst things imaginable have been done with the best of intentions.”
Now, a new sequel has arrived on the scene in the form of Kevin Smith’s Masters Of The Universe: Revelation. Available on Netflix, the all-new animated adventure serves as a direct sequel to the beloved Filmation series (based on the comic and toy line) that ran for 130 episodes between 1983 and 1985.
Now upon reading that, no doubt there are some fans out there who may cringe at the thought of returning to Eternia after a near forty-year hiatus. However, I am here to put those concerns to rest and assure readers that this new series proves that this beloved brand still has the power even all these years later!
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Welcome Back He-Man!
As mentioned above, the new show serves as a direct sequel to the original Masters Of The Universe series. As such, the premiere wastes no time jumping back into the thick of things. Skeletor is once again formulating a new plan to harness the powers behind Castle Grayskull, and it is up to He-Man and his pals to stop him before it is too late.
Sounds familiar enough. However, this new chapter is far from afraid to offer up its fair share of twists, turns, and some bold new concepts along the journey.
Understandably, the very thought may cause longtime fans a measure of anxiety. Yet, rest assured the team behind this one have done their homework and make a point to honor that which has come before it on multiple occasions throughout this first half of the season.
And so, while the whole thing may get ingeniously turned upside down before too long, know that the original formula is still given its due here and that the whole thing serves to expand upon the lore of this fantastical franchise in some seriously spectacular ways!
The modern animation is both bold and beautiful, sensationally stylized in such a way that it looks to lean a little closer to the design we saw back in the early 2000s with He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe.
It’s clean and colorful, and most of the character redesigns make a lot of sense. At the same time, the thoroughly updated expansion makes it clear that this is a slightly more adult-oriented take on things.
That said, it is still a family-friendly show and in no way dabbles within the more hardcore stuff like WB’s Justice League Dark or Amazon’s Invincible have done of late. It just won’t take long to see that the situations characters find themselves in, and choices that they must make in the process, have become slightly more grown-up since 1985.
Again, this is far from a bad thing. Clearly, Kevin Smith has crafted a sequel that is not ignorant to the fact that its audience is no longer just kids. Thus the cheese, while still present throughout these first five episodes, is not as thickly layered as it was back in the day.
A very good thing, if you ask this writer.
Familiar Faces – With A Twist!
Adding to the strong presentation of the new series is a stellar voice cast that brings their respective characters to life! Supergirl alum Chris Wood brings a commanding presence to the role of He-Man, while Star Wars vet Mark Hamill perfectly embodies the dorky determination of Skeletor.
In addition, Sarah Michelle Gellar does an excellent job in the role of Teela – a character that ends up playing a much bigger part in the adventure this time around. Yes, while both He-Man and Prince Adam do play an important part in the show, it is Teela who gets to spend most of her time in the spotlight within these first few episodes.
A surprising change to be sure, but one that allows the whole thing to feel fresh while at the same offering up new levels of depth and development to a classic character.
Yes, I know! A He-Man series where He-Man himself is essentially downgraded to the role of a background character may not necessarily be the easiest pill for some to swallow! However, it works! And, the show is a wholly enjoyable and entertaining experience as a result of these undeniably bold choices!
Add to that additional voice acting talent that includes such legends as Kevin Conroy, Susan Eisenberg, Phil LeMarr, Cree Summer, Kevin Michael Richardson, Deidrich Bader, Tony Todd, Liam Cunningham, Griffin Newman, Tiffany Smith, Alan Oppenheimer, Stephen Root, Justin Long, and Henry Rollins and you quite literally have one of the strongest casts of characters to feature in modern era animation to date.
The Tale This Time Around
So, with He-Man basically sitting on the sidelines for the first five episodes, what can viewers expect in regards to the story? Well, I don’t want to give too much away in that respect. However, as I mentioned above, the battle for good is a little bit more mature this time around.
Following the main confrontation seen in the first episode, the show jumps ahead a few years and sees Teela being tasked to put together a team to help return magic to a dying Eternia.
Of course, what makes this spin on the classic quest approach so interesting is that this group of ragtag misfits is made up of both heroes and villains respectively. Thus, the resulting dynamic between both sides is always an interesting aspect to watch. Especially when it comes to Lena Headey’s scene-stealing take on Evil-Lynn.
Heroes and villains must set aside their previous differences and learn to work together, thus Eternia perish for good. However, this is easier said than done given the driving forces behind both sides and makes for some of the most entertaining interactions throughout the first half of this fantastical new series.
By The Power Of Greyskull
Touching on such familiar themes as loss, redemption, and sacrifice, Masters Of The Universe: Revelation is a fantastical adventure filled with all the excitement and fun that made the original series such a hit with fans all those years ago! Albeit, with more than a few interesting new bits thrown in for good measure.
Radical robots, manacle monsters, and sword-wielding warriors on horseback feature throughout in a near-perfect composition of science fiction meets fantasy that made the original so very unique. Yes, this is Eternia. It is just a little bit more grown-up compared to the last time we saw it.
However, isn’t that how it has been for all of us over these last few years? We’ve all gotten a little older, a little more adult. Our problems and situations are likely more serious than they were when we were children and yet, we all essentially remain the same person we have always been.
The Bottom Line
Masters Of The Universe: Revelation is great! Kevin Smith has crafted a fantastic sequel that not only showcases his love of the original source material but one that is unafraid to expand upon the mythology of the beloved brand in some new and interesting ways.
No, it is not perfect. However, by the time the dust settles at the end of the fifth episode, what you are left with is a truly worthy successor to Filmation’s 80’s era classic! It’s bold. It’s beautiful!
The action scenes are solid and easy to follow, while at the same time offering many of fan-favorite characters like Cringer, Man-At-Arms, and even Orko a chance to shine as never before. It’s chalked full of interesting Easter eggs and definitely makes for some worthwhile viewing!
Granted, I’ve no doubt that some of the more diehard fans out there will find some of the choices made here hard to accept. And yet, I urge all to give this excellent follow-up a proper chance before passing a final judgment.
No, it is not for everyone. However, this writer found the final product to be a most enjoyable time. One that still holds the nostalgia of a Saturday morning cartoon and invites you to throw on your slippers, grab a bowl of Froot Loops and just enjoy!
Here is hoping that the back half of Season 1 delivers as well as the first. If it does, dare I say that Masters Of The Universe: Revelation will go down in history as one of the better sequels to grace the pop culture landscape with its presence.
Yes, even after close to forty years, this beloved brand still has the power in a very big way!
Rating: 8/10 – “Kevin Smith has crafted a worthy successor to Filmation’s original, honoring that which has come before while at the same time being unafraid to expand upon the lore of this fantastical franchise!”