Review: Masters of the Universe: Revelation – Part 1

★★★

Masters of the Universe: Revelation (Part 1)
Show-runner: Kevin Smith
Starring: Chris Wood, Mark Hamill, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Liam Cunningham, Lena Headey, Griffin Newman, Susian Eisenberg, Justin Long, Tiffany Smith, Diedrich Bader, and Alicia Silverstone.

The first five episodes that make up Part 1 of Masters of the Universe: Revelation tell a continuous story, that ends on a shocking cliffhanger in episode 5. The show is not a true sequel to the 80’s Filmation cartoon series, or the 2002 Mike Young Productions (MYP) cartoon series. Nevertheless, the series provides fun callbacks to both the Filmation and MYP cartoon series, as well as the 1987 Masters of the Universe live-action movie.

Part 1 of  Masters of the Universe: Revelation is not really He-Man’s story at all, although he does loom large in each episode. The main story of this chapter is focused on Teela, former Captain of the Royal Guard, as she tries to build a new life for herself. After a cataclysmic battle between He-Man and Skeletor, Eternia is fractured and the Guardians of Castle Grayskull are scattered. A plea from the Sorceress convinces Teela to team up with Evil-Lyn and a rag-tag team of former friends and foes to solve the mystery of the missing Power Sword, in a race against time to restore magic on Eternia and prevent the end of the universe.

The animation is the show, courtesy of Powerhouse Animation (which is also behind Netflix’s Castlevania series), is absolutely spectacular. The studio has created wonderful new designs that pay homage to the look of the original Filmation series, while still giving the characters a fresh new update. Gone is He-Man’s classic red cross emblem, replaced with the stylized “H” logo that was first popularized with the Battle Armor He-Man action-figure in 1983. 

The voice casting for the series is excellent. Lena Headey (Dredd) is perfect casting as Evil-Lyn, and is a real standout in the series. Chris Wood (Supergirl) does a wonderful job as both young Prince Adam and the heroic He-Man, finding a nice balance between the two characters. Liam Cunningham does a great job as the gruff and world-weary Man-At-Arms. Alan Oppenheimer, the original Skeletor from the classic Filmation series, does a beautiful job voicing Moss-Man, giving him both humor and gravitas. Mark Hamill (Batman: The Animated Series) give a wonderfully diabolical performance as the evil Skeletor.

The original music from the first part of the show is composed by Bear McCreary (Battlestar Galactica). There is an emotional depth and charm to this score that you will not find in most animated productions. The soundtrack is brilliantly put together, and gives the series a real cinematic feel.

There are plenty of things in this new series appearing for the first time, that will be appreciated by long-time fans. The first appearance in animation ever of the Three Towers of Eternia, and characters like Scare Glow, Blast Attak, Clamp Champ, He-Ro and Wun-Dar are great fun to see. There are also some fun easter-eggs for fans of the 1987 live-action He-Man movie sprinkled throughout the series.

On the down side, He-Man plays a much smaller role in the first part of this mini-series than fans would expect. He-Man does appear briefly in every episode (mostly in flashbacks), but it’s clear from the start that he is not the main character of this series. For many He-Man fans, this will come as a big disappointment. However, there will be five more episodes of the series in Part 2 – set to premier at a later date – so hopefully fans will get to see more He-Man in future episodes to come.

While fans of the Mattel toy franchise may revel in a bit of nostalgia, this new series may prove difficult for audiences who are not already knowledgeable about the Masters of the Universe mythos. If you are not already a fan of the world of He-Man, you might find yourself a bit lost watching this series.

Kevin Smith’s Masters of the Universe: Revelation (Part 1) is an interesting reinvention of the mythos, that still stays mostly true to the original. The first 5 episodes don’t quite match the excellence of the 2002 cartoon series, which was a fun and exciting reboot of the original series. Nevertheless, there is a lot for original fans to take in and enjoy in this new series, and it will be interesting to see where this story goes in Masters of the Universe: Revelation Part 2. 

Masters of the Universe: Revelation Part 1 is currently streaming on Netflix. Part 2 is due later this year.