I will never understand why so many fanboys are dead set against change. Sure, “nostalgia is a hell of a drug,” and all that, but Masters of the Universe: Revelation on Netflix is proof that change is the best thing that can happen to the stories we loved as children.
The biggest complaint raised by long-time MOTU “fans” is the fact that Teela — voiced by Sarah Michelle Gellar — has been placed the center of the story. This, though, is the best decision Kevin Smith and the series’ writers made in a string of best decisions throughout the five episodes that make up Part One of Masters of the Universe: Revelation.
It’s a bold choice to sideline He-Man and Skeletor for most of the episodes, but it’s one that works because it allows the other characters that populate Eternia to share the spotlight. And thank the Sorceress because this allows the side characters to shine. In particular, Griffin Newman as Orko is a standout — in a voice cast filled to the brim with standouts — because, for the first time in four decades, the Trollan trickster is given interiority and depth. I never thought in my life would I ever well up at an Orko monologue, and then Newman recounts how Orko got his name, and here we are…
Moreover, 20 minutes into the first episode — which, for the most part feels the most like a classic Filmation one — everything we know about the Universe is upended forever. This status quo change is the real revelation of these first five episodes, jumping forward in time to a world without magic in conflict with technology (and a cult that worships Tri-Klops) that forces former rivals to team up to save the universe.
Despite these radical departures from the ’80s storyline, it’s evident that the writers room of Revelation are reverent for every iteration of the Masters mythology from the original cartoon to the Dolph Lundgren movie to the 2000s reboot and of course the toys (even the obscure ones). (Look, anyone who calls themself a MOTU fan and doesn’t get giddy to see an all-out battle at Castle Grayskull full of Rotons and Sky Sleds has no right to be angry with this show!)
And after watching the first part of the series, it’s clear to me that this is the most interesting incarnation of the Masters story I’ve ever witnessed. The animation is crisp. The voice acting is out of this world — really, the amount of gravitas that Game of Thrones actors like Liam Cunningham and Lena Heady give to characters like Man-At-Arms and Evil-Lyn, respectively is next level. And Bear McCreary’s amazing score elevates every scene.
But most importantly, the writing on the show is a Master(s) class on how to update a beloved ’80s property for the 21st century.
Part one of Masters of the Universe: Revelation is now streaming on Netflix.