- Developed by Kevin Smith
- Produced by Powerhouse Animation Studios
- July 23, 2021 to present
- Prince Adam / He-Man-Chris Wood
- Skeletor-Mark Hamill
- Duncan / Man-At-Arms-Liam Cunningham
- Teela-Sarah Michelle Gellar
- Evil-Lyn-Lena Headey
- King Randor, Trap Jaw-Diedrich Bader
- Queen Marlena-Alicia Silverstone
- Cringer-Stephen Root
- Orko-Griffin Newman
- The Sorceress-Susan Eisenberg
- Beast Man-Kevin Michael Richardson
- Mer-Man-Kevin Conroy
- Tri-Klops-Henry Rollins
- Stinkor-Jason Mewes
- Moss-Man-Alan “Skeletor” Oppenheimer
- Roboto-Justin Long
- Scare Glow-Tony Todd
- He-Ro-Phil LaMarr
- Priestess, Kuduk-Cree Summer
- Illena-Harley Quinn Smith
- Andra-Tiffany Smith
- King Grayskull-Dennis Haysbert
- Vikor-Adam Gifford
- Wun-Dar-Jay Tavare
The war for Eternia begins again and the fate of the universe hangs in the balance.
I went into Masters of the Universe: Revelation with high expectations. Kevin Smith is a fanboy when it comes to just about everything. At least that is what he publicly projects. I expected a good show with updated characterizations of the presented characters. I expected a Masters of the Universe series updated for modern times yet remaining largely true to the source material. After three episodes I can confidently say I was seriously misled.
I know three episodes is not the entire run of the series currently available on Netflix, but I was given nothing that made me want to go beyond three episodes. To be honest I only finished the third episode just to know how it ended so I would not be left with a lingering question on how the episode ended.
I give Smith that the character designs are fantastic. They remain true to the original toys but given a more modern polish. The animation looks great. It has style and is much more dynamic than what Filmation did.
All the marketing material led me to believe He-Man would be, well, important to the show just like he was to every other iteration of it. In the original He-Man and the Masters of the Universe to The New Adventures of He-Man that followed shortly after to the 2002 reboot to even the live action film, He-Man has always been a significant player in Masters of the Universe but here-and I reiterate I have only seen a total of three episodes-he is largely relegated to appearances in flashbacks. Very brief appearances. The character of Teela spends much more time on screen than He-Man does.
Given the implication in the original series and successive iterations that Teela was the daughter of the Sorceress, I never understood why she seemed to fall into the background so much especially once that implication was made. He-Man/Prince Adam as well as Duncan/Man-At-Arms were much more front and center. Even Orko out got more play than Teela. In the original there were several Orko-centric episodes in comparison to maybe one or two for Teela. And one of those was the one where it was implied she was the Sorceress’s daughter.
The first episode opens with Skeletor striking at Castle Greyskull in an epic battle filled with plenty of old-school MOTU characters and vehicles. It is a nice bit of fan service. But the episode feels like so much story occurred before it. I was left with the impression that I had missed out on several episodes even though Netflix courteously starts you on the very first episode of the series. From what I understand this is a direct sequel to the original show but it does not feel like that.
By the end of the episode Prince Adam and Skeletor are both dead. Teela loses her shit after learning Adam’s secret and instantly become disillusioned with everything. She leaves the service of King Randor. How fragile was her worldview that a secret identity could cause her to throw everything away and abandon everyone in her life? And that she cut Duncan off immediately says they were never close.
By the second episode she is essentially a criminal for hire. It looks like she gets paid by people to retrieve lost or stolen objects and bring them back. This is a huge change from being the captain of the guards. They abandoned the big draw character of their fictional universe in favor of a supporting character.
In however much time has passed since the death of He-Man to the actual plot of the series, Skeletor’s forces have become involved in a technology cult. This cult is led by Tri-Klops who in the original series was not all that competent which is one of many things that make me question if this is INDEED a direct sequel. Tri-Klops keeps talking about the “holy motherboard” and all that. This cult he runs is anti-magic yet this looks like magic technology.
This is another reboot that drops every character into a shitty existence. Duncan is barely getting by now that he has been banished from the palace because he kept Adam’s secret identity from King Randor. Orko is dying because Skeletor’s mechanizations have cost magic from Eternia. Life has gone in the crapper across the board.
We have a good cast though. To name a few we have Chris Wood as Prince Adam/He-Man, Mark Hamill as Skeletor, Liam Cunningham as Duncan/Man-At-Arms, Sarah Michelle Gellar as Teela, Lena Headey as Evil-Lyn, Diedrich Bader as King Randor and Trap Jaw, Alicia Silverstone as Queen Marlena, Stephen Root as Cringer, Kevin Michael Richardson as Beast Man, Kevin Conroy as Mer-Man, Henry Rollins as Tri-Klops, Jason Mewes as Stinkor, Alan “Skeletor” Oppenheimer as Moss-Man, Justin Long as Roboto, Griffin Newman as Orko, and Susan Eisenberg as the Sorceress. Good enough but Oppenheimer is the only one that comes off like he was trying. Mark Hamill sounds like the Joker and Sarah Michelle Gellar as Teela sounds a bit generic. In fact it is if everybody involved decided not to try.
As I mentioned earlier there was a 2002 reboot of this concept. The animation looked similar to what is done here. The show was a much more serious take on the concept than the original series or even the second version was. It managed to be different yet honor the material. It also had stories on other characters, but He-Man just did not show up in cameos. He was not a guest star.
The elimination of He-Man from the narrative for an extended period would have been an interesting twist come the second season of this new show. That is an interesting take on consequences and aftermaths but removing your presumed main character from the series so quickly and who was featured in the marketing material seems like a bit of bait and switch. You need some setup before you do what they did here.
From the trailer it looks like at the minimum Prince Adam returns later in the series. Much of what I see in the trailer appears in the first three episodes and that includes the He-Man/Prince Adam appearances though some of the other stuff is obviously later in the series and could indicate a return of the character we are actually tuning in for.
The stories themselves are rather bland. Even the opening episode which should have felt like a high stakes battle for the fate of Eternia if not the universe just did not have that feel. There is no build up to it. It was a season finale episode set as the season opener. The two episodes I watched after that felt like they were going through the motions. It threw in some odd stuff and some unlikely alliances, but it felt like a big so what in the end?
I have heard reported that Kevin Smith says critics need to “Grow the f**k up.” Sorry dude but you made something bad here. This show appears to be a critical darling so I am thinking Smith aimed at critics and assumed fans would fall in line. Oops! If anybody needs to grow up it appears to be Smith who cannot handle criticism.
In the end I cannot recommend Masters of the Universe: Revelation as something worth watching. As of this moment it is just a poorly executed show. The talents of the voice cast are wasted in lackluster stories told with very slick looking animation. Unless I hear something that makes me take a second look and change my mind I will call this series a skip it.