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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Masters of the Universe Revelations...was it worth the wait? (Spoilers ahead)

 


As we all know so well, nostalgia sells.  It sells like an ice cold beverage in the middle of a heat wave.  Is the Kevin Smith helmed Masters of the Universe series riding on nostalgia alone, or did it bring something to the table declaring it is indeed the master of our childhood universe?

Spoiler warning.  You have been...um...warned!

When we first heard about Masters of the Universe getting a new series, many got excited.  When we found out it was going to be canon to the original 1980s cartoon, we got even more excited.  When we found out that Kevin Smith was attached as show runner, we relaxed a bit knowing...this was going to be exciting!

Kevin Smith has cemented himself in the world of pop culture, comic books, and nostalgic love.  When his hands are laid upon a familiar property, it just seems to pop.  It comes to life.  It comes back as what we expected it to be.  No filler, no watering it down.  Did Kevin Smith do that with MotU?  Well...

Yes.  Yes he did.  What did you think I was going to say?  That he screwed it all up?  You jest!

With an all star cast of phenomenal actors and actresses, Kevin Smith formulated a story that not only brought to us the essence of the original show, but also brought with it a lot of heart.  The feelings of betrayal, loss, family, and honor were brought in and layered into the story in a method that didn't feel forced.  Methods that made perfect sense.  For example, when Teela discovered that Prince Adam was He-Man only upon his death it isn't hard to believe that her feelings of being lied to and betrayed make perfect sense.  The obvious guilt that King Randor displayed upon realizing he has ridiculed his son for so long only to discover how great his son truly was, and being so blinded by his own pride to not see it sooner made perfect sense.  The emotion of closing everyone out and pushing those around them away was also well within the scope of the characters display of guilt, loss, betrayal, and ignorance in King Randor's blind arrogance.

As the story unfolded, we find that the world of Eternia, and the universe as well, is dying.  It is dying because the conduit of magic that has fed the universe has been destroyed.  That the power is gone.  Teela is then tasked with the mission to recover the two halves of the Sword of Power to reignite the magic in the universe.

The fellowship is made up of members from both sides of the long war for Castle Grayskull, and one wide eyed idealist in Andra.  Andra serves as our way into the world of Eternia, representing the fans.  Our personal conduit of excitement, sadness, and fear.  She served as our connection point, while also being her own character with her own story to be told.


Through out the first five episodes of this series, each episode flows into one another telling the overall story arch from beginning to...well an almost end.  Almost end as this is just the first five episodes, as I have stated.  A second half of the series will be released at a currently unspecified time.  Some are speculating later this year, but we have not seen or heard anything specific.  This could be simply due to Netflix gauging interest.

Now, let us critique the show a bit.

First off, the animation.  The style is more in line with that of the animation from the reboot series, and less like the original Filmation style that many of use older fans recall from our youth.  As this series had a far larger budget in comparison to the original series, it is expected to benefit with a better animation style.  As a fan of the reboot series, this style is more than welcomed.  It is a bit jarring when the first episode opens with stills based around the original promotional art used for the toy line in the 1980s.  A style that was epic...including the red exploding rocks that were used on the cards of the toy line.  A lot of attention was given to the art and animation so the quirky mistakes, and recycled animations from the classics are gone.

Secondly, let us look at the writing.  The writing for this series has been solid so far.  The actors did a fantastic job delivering lines.  Even poking fun at the quirky dialog and puns used in the original series.  I personally was hard pressed to figure out when pre- and post-pandemic recordings were made.  The cast did a fantastic job doing their lines that the emotional dialog was delivered with delicate precision.

Next, what about the stories themselves?  As with most shows today, there are the typical tropes.  This is just the nature of the medium at this point.  As much as we want to avoid it, we just can't.  I can't hold that against the show.  The way those tropes are delivered were well timed, and the actors deliveries were consistent.  Scenes where we knew a big moment was coming, such as (this is one HELLUVA spoiler here...) Orko died, you saw it coming a mile away.  However, when it happened it still felt impactful.  It almost felt unexpected in how much of an impact it made in the fourth episode.  It was an honest tear jerking moment.  The return of Skeletor was also expected, just as the show just seemed to lay down a lot of clues.  But, the way he returned in the fifth episode was just jaw dropping to say the least.  Even killing He-Man...TWICE?...was partially expected, but you still get blown away by it.

On this note about the stories.  I mentioned how Orko and He-Man has died, but we should talk about the overall growth of Roboto?  The fact that it didn't feel forced!  The fact that it was written in a way that felt honest, and also just so saddening when he was killed.  I won't say he was destroyed, or something so mechanical sounding.  Roboto was legitimately killed.  We knew that he was destined for it due to what was required of him, but it was sad to see him go just as he experienced what feelings were.  How important emotion truly is.

Lastly, overall consistency and delivery.  I have said it a lot in this article.  The first five episodes of this series has been wonderfully consistent across the board.  The flow was well timed, and never felt like it slowed down or went to fast.  It was just well paced.  Because of that consistency, the delivery was well done.

Overall, this is not just any other nostalgia ride.  This was the start of a series that wanted to bring new life to an old property.  A property that was prime for an update and retooling for modern audiences both young and old, boy and girl.

Oh, and why am I not talking about the Easter Eggs that appeared in the show?  Well, the show as a whole was just a giant Easter Egg.  Perhaps we will do a deep dive into the Easter Eggs that you might have missed in a later article.

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