Well, this has been a rather heavy week. I was hoping to end off on something lighter (after realizing I was never really into Fantasy Island anyway so reviewing the new reboot when I can’t even remember that it airs seems meaningless) but then Netflix done gone and done it. They released a trailer for the other He-Man show…though at least this one is actually featuring He-Man in it’s opening story.
The third series to be called He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe, this is going to be a kids-targeted show. Why couldn’t just do one show for both audiences to watch together shows how uninterested in the entertainment industry is in bridging the generation gap (easier marketing I’d wager). This new take will be in CG rather than drawing animation (DA?) but that’s nothing to hold against a show. Some of the better Transformers cartoons were done with computer animation (why not CA instead of “computer generated” or “computer generated imaging”?) as were some bad ones but that’s due to the writing more than the animation. Transformers Cyberverse has weaker animation than Beast Machines yet you’ll find more praise for the former.
However, for those you hoping that this would be the better adaptation than the adult version…you may want to watch the trailer first.
You didn’t even try to get the adaptation right, did you Netflix?
And don’t tell me “you haven’t seen it yet”. I’m not talking about the quality of work, which as I’ll get to looks amazing so be patient. I’m talking about how it works as an adaptation and nothing matches up. Let’s start with the most obvious. This show is leaning heavily on science fiction. We have one magic user and we’re assuming it’s not just some kind of “technomagic” but the usual mystical stuff. However, Eternia is less “sword and sorcery”, which it has been in every incarnation (The New Adventures Of He-Man and the toyline it’s promoting as well as other tie-in media sent He-Man and Skeletor to another world for their sci-fi continuation while the times we see Eternia looks like the same old Eternia) and more city of tomorrow. Orko is now a robot. Everyone’s wearing high-tech looking armor or looking more like aliens than original fantasy creatures. The whole tone is backwards. Instead of fantasy with a dash of science fiction it looks more like science fiction with a dash of fantasy.
He-Man also gets a radical redesign and what is that symbol on his harness/body armor supposed to be? It looks like twin daggers or something. As least He-Man, Orko, Battlecat, and maybe Skeletor and Trap Jaw I can recognize…plus now it seems like everyone good and evil alike get to have a transformation. Nobody else looks even the remotely like their iconic designs. I had to look up the cast list in the Slashfilm article to figure out who is even attempting to be represented here.
Yuri Lowenthal steps in to voice He-Man/Adam/Tuvar, accompanied by David Kaye (Cringer/Battle Cat), Grey Griffin (Evelyn/Evil-Lyn), Antony Del Rio (Duncan/Man-at-Arms), Kimberly Brooks (Teela/Eldress/Sorceress), Trevor Devall (R’Qazz/Beast Man), Judy Alice Lee (Krass/Ram Ma’am), Roger Craig Smith (Kronis/Trap-Jaw/General Dolos), Fred Tatasciore (King Randor/Baddrah), Ben Diskin (Skeletor/Prince Keldor), Tom Kenny (Ork-0/RK Units), Max Mitchell (Kitty), and Max Stubington (Young Adam).
Why does EVERYONE have an alternate identity? It’s not like they seem to care about secret identities any more than their attempt at She-Ra had. This is the kids show. A dude just named Beast Man or a villainess literally named “evil” should be a lot easier for them to accept and enjoy than a bunch of cynical adults. And yes, I noticed you gender-swapped Ram Man with “Ram Ma’am”. That’s not even a clever name. Considering at least one critic of Abby in The Last Of Us Two I follow referred to her as “It’s Ma’am” based on her male-like physique (at least the girls here look like girls and the boys look like boys) you’re just begging to have this character ridiculed. There might not have been many other women in the original toyline, but you could have pulled in one of the characters from the He-Man toyline or show that would have sufficed. Heck, this makes a better Primus than it does Eternia. As for the plot:
On Eternia, the first planet of creation, a demonic tyrant rises: Skeletor! With dark armies at his command, Skeletor is on the march, hell-bent on capturing Eternia’s kingdoms, and its ultimate prize – Castle Grayskull, the ancient fortress of mystery said to contain the greatest power in the universe. It’s up to He-Man and his brave squad of rookie heroes to stop Skeletor and restore the peace. Both sides come armed with enchanted Power Weapons – transforming them into Masters of the Primal Powers of the Universe. It’s Master vs. Dark Master, He-Man vs. Skeletor – fighting for control of Eternia, Castle Grayskull, and the fate of us all. In the end, who will become MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE?
Yep, everyone gets a transformation. Look, I defend kid characters a lot, but in this franchise He-Man and friends are not kids. Adam and Teela were younger, especially in the 2000s series, but these kids are maybe 13 or 14, not even late teens or early twenties. It’s like this should be called Grayskull Kids. There is so little of the iconography of the Masters Of The Universe franchise that they could have literally called this anything else…and this would actually be a positive preview. Yeah, there’s a lot done right as an original property but nothing done right as an adaptation. I like the animation, I like the humor, the characters seem really neat on their own and you can see that the kids are friends or going to be…they’re just not the characters I grew up with and gave me respite from the school bullies and unsureness of my future, while also planting the seeds that would lead to me wanting to be a storyteller. For all I know this could turn out to be generic and boring but if this had been called something like Power Warriors…I’d be sad because that was the name for MY “Masters Of The Universe meets Star Wars” idea I had in high school, but I’d totally be down to watch it if I had Netflix.
Plus Rob David is on this one too and I don’t trust his judgement when it comes to this franchise. If your goal was to make Revelation look like the better adaptation congratulations. It’s still not a good adaptation and plays havoc with beloved characters, but you got the visual iconography right. Shame the characters didn’t hold up when you weren’t killing them off.
This really should have been an original series, and frankly it looks like one of those shows that would have been original but someone said, “make it a nostalgia show that we can use easy marketing for and you have a deal” and they chose He-Man. I hate it when something I would love as an original concept is ruined by not-stalgia.