I know the majority of the folks didn’t the like Masters of the Universe: Revelation but contrary to the popular opinion, the first season of Netflix’s animated series was fantastic. The animation was undoubtedly mind-blowing. Everything, from the character designs to the action sequences, was exquisite. As someone who wasn’t all that nostalgic about He-Man, I loved the narrative as it showed how Eternia, Subternia, and Preternia would function without the champion and whether or not his allies would be up for the task when faced with the consistent evil shenanigans of Skeletor. In addition to that, the convincing vocal performances only elevated all of these elements, thereby making it an overall enjoyable viewing experience. However, many people didn’t feel the same way, and that cast doubt on the greenlighting of the second season of the show. And even though I wasn’t aware of the existence of Masters of the Universe: Revolution until last week because of Netflix’s amazing marketing strategy, I am glad that it’s here with more interesting lore, twists, and action sequences.
Kevin Smith’s Masters of the Universe: Revolution, whose episodes have been directed by Adam Conarroe and Patrick Stannard and written by Smith, Tim Sheridan, and Diya Mishra, opens with the shutdown of Subternia after freeing the souls of Clamp Champ and Fisto. The primary team of heroes includes He-Man, Cringer, Teela, Duncan, Andra, and Orko. And to help them out, there’s Rio Blast, Buzz Off, Snout Spout, some guy who looks like a mixture of Gimli and Juggernaut and apparently has springs in his legs (I couldn’t catch his name), King Randor, and of course the might of Eternia’s air force. While the operation goes rather smoothly, Randor falls ill and is about to die. Now, during the events of Revelation, Preternia (Eternia’s version of heaven) was destroyed, and that has not only destabilized the equation between the realms but also robbed the people of Eternia of the opportunity to attain immortality after living a heroic life. Adam doesn’t know whether he should worry about where Randor’s soul is going to go or think about the next ruler of Eternia. To make matters more complicated, Randor’s stepbrother, Keldor, enters the picture. Meanwhile, in Snake Mountain, Motherboard and Skeletek begin scripting the arrival of a dark lord named Hordak.
Masters of the Universe: Revolution hinges on three primary themes: spiritualism, artificial intelligence, and fascism, and all of them are hugely relevant. Teela’s entire arc shows how kids who have some sense of responsibility and have an amicable relationship with their elders (which is a rarity largely due to the behavior of elders and the poor upbringing of kids) wonder what will happen to them when they get old and are on their deathbed. Since this is a He-Man show, that concern is equated with the resurrection of Preternia. But a real-world parallel can be drawn if we see it from the perspective of the growing inability to afford healthcare and eldercare due to the state of the world’s economy while dealing with the complications of property inheritance and other issues that come with an extended family. Motherboard and Skeletek using the magic of Eternia to fuel their tech-based dystopia is a good analogy for the rise of artificial intelligence and A.I. experts who don’t seem to have any respect for the magic in art and humanity. But they do want to make alien-looking facsimiles of it just to prove that they can, instead of getting a hobby that doesn’t involve the wanton destruction of everything that’s deemed organic and sacred. And do I really need to explain the similarities between the show’s depiction of fascism and the one that we are seeing in real life?
The look and feel of Masters of the Universe: Revolution is heavier and more bombastic than that of Revelation. All the character designs have a lot of detail, and there’s always a lot going on visually. But it never feels overwhelming because they have a thematic and narrative purpose. The one who undergoes the most radical amount of change is Skeletek. It’s a complete overhaul, but the fusion of Havoc staff with his body, the LED-esque eyes, and the lines of energy running all over his body have a point. The same can be said about Teela. She also becomes a whole new character, and yet it makes sense. Even He-Man gets a whole new look. However, unlike a lot of superhero franchises, it doesn’t seem like a blatant attempt to sell more toys because you are so engrossed in the emotional undercurrent of the transformation. The work done by the animators, VFX artists, background designers, colorists, editors, 3D artists, storyboard artists, and composers is worthy of all the applause in the world. The music by Bear McCreary and Sparks and Shadows is amazing. That said, the whole show feels oddly rushed. I’m sure there are a variety of reasons why this season of Masters of the Universe isn’t made up of 10 episodes, but do any of them justify the lack of breathing space between every plot beat? No, I don’t think so. And the 5-episode limit doesn’t just hurt the narrative and the character arcs; it hurts the action, too. It’s not bad, by any means. It just leaves a lot to be desired, especially due to the richness of the characters, lore, and themes.
As mentioned before, the voice acting in Revelation was great, and Masters of the Universe: Revolution ensures that that aspect of the Netflix series remains consistent. Chris Wood, as Adam and He-Man, is fantastic. If you don’t check the credits, you’ll think that Adam and He-Man are being voiced by two entirely different people. The way he expresses the characters’ genuine sense of passion, responsibility, and optimism is simply excellent. Melissa Benoist, as Teela, is perfect, especially in the scenes where her character is literally breaking into pieces. Listening to Lena Headey flex her brand of devilry as Evil-Lyn is always a treat. Liam Cunningham, Ted Biaselli, Diedrich Bader, Griffin Newman, Tiffany Smith, and Stephen Root are all brilliant. However, as always, it’s Mark Hamill who seems to be having the most fun. Without revealing any spoilers, I can say that Skeletor is the meatiest character in the show, in terms of his villainous arc as well as the poetic nature of his dialogues. And Hamill chews through every scene like he was born to play this role. To be honest, he is so good in every role that he takes on that I wish he was a better and more educated person in real life.
I am aware of the fact that the consensus on Masters of the Universe as a series is split down the middle. So, based on that, I will say that those who didn’t like Revelation probably won’t like Masters of the Universe: Revolution as well. Yes, there’s more He-Man in the show, and it can seem like the showrunners are attempting to appease jilted fans. But “more” doesn’t mean “different.” It’s a continuation of the character that was introduced in the previous season, and if you hated him then, you are likely to hate him even now. But enough about the haters. Let’s talk about lovers. So, if you liked Revelation, you’ll surely love Revolution. The length of the show can feel irksome, but every single second of the five episodes is used in an efficient fashion to give viewers the maximum amount of entertainment. The visuals are astounding. The music is pulse-pounding. The twists are jaw-dropping. And by the end, you’ll forget how old you are, point to the sky, beckon the energy of Grayskull, and feel that you indeed have the power.