Minor spoilers ahead.
I’m going to keep this brief. As this is a pre-release review of Masters of the Universe Revelations, you really just want to know if it’s worth your time, or if I liked it.
The answer is yes. I enjoyed it and I think it’s worth your time.
Have a good day!
Okay, we can go a little deeper than that, but I do want to keep spoilers to a bare minimum as we dig in. First thing’s first, there’s a time jump after the first episode, which is important, and some characters die throughout the series. Not saying who, not saying when, but expect it to happen.
If that bothers you a little, Masters of the Universe characters dying on-screen, then you’re probably like me.
I guess that’s the whole sticking point with me and this series. Masters of the Universe Revelations is supposed to be a continuation of the original He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon from the 1980s, but I question that a little bit. In general, Revelations is respectful to the source material, but it doesn’t take its source material too seriously–just itself. Deaths come more frequently than I would like, and that just doesn’t feel authentic to the spirit of the original series, which was a show for children. It’s funny how characters who managed to survive hundreds of episodes or issues of their earliest adventures somehow manage to die routinely when they’re pulled out of mothballs for an older audience.
Other small tweaks bug me as well. Adam, for example, is presented as small and somewhat scrawny. In the original cartoon, he was a doppelganger for He-Man and no one noticed. Is it silly that Adam looked like He-Man? Absolutely. Is that an indelible part of the charm and actual canon of Masters of the Universe? I’d argue yes. Is this a minor complaint? Most likely. But this is a series full of minor complaints.
Heck, the much-lauded voice cast bugs me a bit. For example, Alan Oppenheimer’s voice is core to who Skeletor is. If Oppenheimer is too old or frail to play the part, cast someone in the role who at least tries to sound like Skeletor. Instead, we have Mark Hammil playing The Joker, more or less. It just never clicks with me. Oh, and since we have The Joker, we also have Batman. They just call him Mer-Man. Literally, it’s the same voice. Mer-Man’s original voice is probably silly forty years later, but it is what it is. The change made here just feels arbitrary and wrong.
The voice cast is one of the selling points of the series, and it’s mostly good. I actually really enjoyed Sarah Michell Geller as Teela–which is fortunate because she is the series lead.
Yes, Teela is the lead character of the series. The story of He-Man takes a break after the first episode, and we focus on Teela for the remainder of this season. I am entirely okay with that, in practice. In theory, it should feel kind of like a bait and switch–the series that this is supposedly a continuation of Is HE-MAN and the Masters of the Universe, and I wouldn’t blame someone if they felt a little bit cheated by that. But it doesn’t bother me.
Overall, the series takes itself a bit too seriously for my tastes, even though they throw in some corny jokes along the way–those jokes feel like they’re intended to juxtapose the corniness of the original series to this series, with its more modern sensibilities and sophistication. Honestly, I could do with a bit more corniness and faithfulness to the original series.
But like I said in my opening statement, I enjoyed Masters of the Universe Revelations. It really is fun, and Kevin Smith is a good storyteller.
Be forewarned, the season, or half-season, ends on a cliffhanger. I won’t say what happens, but it felt like it was trying to poke a bear. Take that for what you will.
In closing, I think that Kevin Smith treats the source material seriously enough, even if I don’t appreciate all of the choices made along the way. And, seriously, this really is a new Masters of the Universe series, nearly 20 years since the last one. It’s not like MOTU fans can afford to be picky. It mostly avoids the most serious of mistakes that other similar revival series have made in the past–this is certainly no GI Joe Resolute, it’s leagues better than that. But it’s also not a Dragonball Super, which really does feel like a continuation of Dragonball Z. Masters of the Universe Revelations is somewhere in the middle, and that’s okay. It’s very serviceable, and I enjoyed it enough to watch it nearly three times. But, really, I had to watch it three times to determine how I felt about it.
It’s very okay. It’s like the third-best fast food meal you’ve had in the last two years.