Fans of the 1980s classic, “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,” may be a little nervous about a new animated He-Man series and how it might tarnish the original’s iconic legacy.
But the new Netflix series, “Masters of the Universe: Revelation,” is nowhere close to the original series. And that’s not a bad thing, as “Revelation” takes the classic characters we love and updates their storylines to appeal to a broader audience, including those who were raised on the Power of Grayskull.
As before, the action takes place on the planet Eternia, a world that relies heavily on magic, the core of which is housed in the mysterious Castle Grayskull.
The champion of Eternia is He-Man (voiced by Chris Wood), the most powerful man in the universe. He-Man is actually Eternia’s mild-mannered prince, Adam (also Wood), who channels the Power of Grayskull to become He-Man. Adam’s best friend, Teela (Sarah Michelle Gellar), is Eternia’s captain of the royal guard, responsible for training Adam in combat. She has no idea he is actually He-Man, but her father, Man-At-Arms (Liam Cunningham), Sorceress (Susan Eisenberg), Orko (Griffin Newman) and Cringer (Stephen Root) do know Adam’s secret.
As “Revelation” opens, everyone is forced into battle as the evil sorcerer, Skeletor (Mark Hamill), and his forces attack the castle. The battle takes a very dark turn that causes secrets to be revealed and relationships to be shattered.
The original “He-Man” cartoon was clearly written for kids to sell toys, but “Revelation” is an actual drama with realistic, adult stories. Plus, these characters are much more fully developed than their predecessors. For example, Skeletor could often come off like a clown in the original, but this Skeletor has real skills and comes off as much more of an actual threat to He-Man and his friends.
Helping take the “Masters” universe to this new level is an outstanding voice cast, led by the Emmy Award-winning Mark Hamill. If you’re going to bring back an iconic villain like Skeletor, there is no one better to play him. Gellar is also strong balancing Teela’s toughness with her vulnerability. And Root, most known for his work in “NewsRadio” and “Office Space,” is the perfect choice for the shy, cowardly Cringer.
“Revelation” is split into two parts with five episodes premiering now and five episodes premiering at a later date. I only watched two of the first five episodes because I didn’t want to learn too much as Netflix had already provided me a long list of things I can’t mention — which explains my vague description. What I can say is that the action moves fast and it’s intense, and we get to see a lot of characters who only played minor roles before. And I can also assure you that “Revelation” only builds on the legacy of “He-Man,” as opposed to tarnishing it.
“Masters of the Universe: Revelation” begins streaming Friday, July 23, on Netflix.