Masters of the Universe: Revolution TV Review

The new installment of Kevin Smith’s He-Man revival brings back fan favorite characters in unexpected ways for a truncated but fun season.

Plot: The new epic chapter in the battle for Castle Grayskull!. The newly mechanized Skeletor, armed with Motherboard’s might, attacks Eternia’s heart while Prince Adam grapples with a new responsibility and what that means for him as He-Man!

Review: Back in 2021, I gave a glowing review to Kevin Smith’s revival of He-Man. Titled Masters of the Universe: Revelation, the Netflix original was released in two five-episode drops, both of which I loved. A blend of modern animation techniques coupled with a throwback to the Filmation style of the 1980s cartoon, Revelation was blasted online by a vocal minority who disliked Smith’s decision to “kill off” Prince Adam in the first episode and make the series centered on Teela and many of the female characters. By the end of the full series, Smith’s vision came to fruition, even though many fans were not swayed. The second chapter in the revival is here in a half-length season known as Masters of the Universe: Revolution. With Kevin Smith back in charge, this new season has some starling updates to the He-Man mythology and connections you will not see coming. If you were not a fan of Revelation, odds are Revolution will not change your mind, but that does not detract from it being a fun blast from the past.

Masters of the Universe: Revolution

Masters of the Universe: Revolution picks up shortly after the conclusion of Revelation. With Scare-Glow (Tony Todd) ruling the underworld of Subternia, Prince Adam (Chris Wood) and Orko (Griffin Newman), along with all of our favorite heroes, jump into battle. It is an epic opening sequence that sets the tone and pace for the entire series. Immediately after the battle, King Randor (Diedrich Bader) falls ill, sending Adam and Teela on their new quest. This also contrasts with Skeletor (Mark Hamill), now a servant of Motherboard, and the new big bad, Hordak (Keith David). Hordak, introduced in Netflix’s revival of She-Ra: Princess of Power, is a unique villain whose introduction takes even more time away from the already truncated season. There is a lot of talking in this run that strives to combine the elements of technology and magic, two competing forces on Eternia combined to less effect in Netflix’s CGI series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Instead, this approach serves as a way to combine the various arcs and storylines across all of the Masters of the Universe properties.

Speaking of throwbacks, Kevin Smith has also taken it upon himself to bring the cult classic 1987 live-action Masters of the Universe to the franchise canon with the reintroduction of Gwildor. Played by Billy Barty in the movie and voiced here by Ted Biaselli, Gwildor was created as a replacement on screen since Orko would have been cost-prohibitive to realize in live action. The jokes about Gwildor and Orko’s similarities made my six-year-old happy. They supported that this series is Kevin Smith’s attempt to tell a He-Man story for fans who are now adults rather than reinvent it as a new cartoon for grade-schoolers. This also works with the inclusion of so many genre favorites, including Meg Foster, who played Evil-Lyn in the 1987 film, returning here as the voice of Motherboard. This season also includes Star Trek icons John De Lancie (aka Q) as Granamyr and Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, in a substantial role that I will not spoil for you here. The fact that we have Star Wars and Star Trek veterans in this cast is a blend of fanboy dreams that should excite everyone for this series.

This season has some recast characters, including Supergirl actress Melissa Benoist taking over as Teela from Sarah Michelle Gellar and Star Trek: The Next Generation actress Gates McFadden stepping in for Alicia Silverstone as Queen Marlena. Everyone else from Revelation is back, including Liam Cunningham, Lena Headey, Stephen Root, and Susan Eisenberg, giving this series a season-two vibe rather than a standalone series. From the title graphics to the music, this new season is a solid addition to the franchise that furthers the story from Revelation while giving us much more focus on He-Man. The animation has continued to grow on me from the first season and manages to look less polished than some other animated properties, which puts me back into the mood and style of the classic cartoon. There is just enough CGI in this series to accentuate the look without being a distraction from the series itself.

The trouble I had with this season primarily comes from the truncated season. Clocking in at just five half-hour episodes, Masters of the Universe: Revolution has to cram the same amount of exposition as Revelation but in half the time. The introduction of Hordak requires a lot of explanation for those unfamiliar with his role in She-Ra; this is both a blessing and a curse. Yes, this season is chock full of action, but it all feels rushed towards an ending that sets the He-Man mythos in a new direction but one that will certainly be divisive for fans. I am a little concerned with where the season leaves off, even though there is a cliffhanger that could set up a cool third entry in this revival. Kevin Smith, who wrote and ran the show this season, kept much of the writing and directing team from Revelation on board for this season, which allows this to feel like a continuation rather than a standalone series. As it is, this was a quick and fun watch that left me wanting more. That may be a good thing in the grand scheme of things, but if I wait years to get another entry, assuming Netflix greenlights it, that will surely be disappointing.

Masters of the Universe: Revolution

True to its title, Masters of the Universe: Revolution does try to upend the way warring factions exist on Eternia by resolving some conflicts, enhancing the powers and abilities of the heroes and villains, and resetting the board for a new battle in the expected third chapter of this saga. I had fun with Revolution, thanks to its blend of callbacks, homages, and connections to various He-Man properties over the years. The refocus on Prince Adam as the primary protagonist was a smart move, but I cannot help but feel that this short season feels like twice the amount of story that could fit in half the time. I am still a fan of what Kevin Smith has done with this series, and I am ready for more, but I wish this season had satisfied me the way the first series did.

Masters of the Universe: Revolution is now streaming on Netflix.

Source: JoBlo.com

About the Author

5913 Articles Published

Alex Maidy has been a JoBlo.com editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been JoBlo.com's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.