By the Power of Grayskull – they’re back!
First announced back in August 2019 by show-runner Kevin Smith at the annual Power-Con convention in 2019, He-Man and the guardians of Castle Grayskull finally return to our screens this Friday, almost forty years after the original 80s television series. Along with the much-beloved franchise being a staple in many people’s childhoods, the characters and iconic phrase “by the power of greyskull” has long been etched into the pop culture landscape. Much to the relief of the huge fanbase, Smith has indicated that this series is set up as if it were the next episode of the original series, while also still being accessible to those who have never seen the original show – so very much a continuation to the original story.
Masters of the Universe: Revelation once again transports us to the world of Eternia as the epic struggle between the forces of Castle Grayskull and Snake Mountain continues. However, a catastrophic battle between He-Man (Chris Wood) and Skeletor (Mark Hamill) leaves Eternia and the Guardians of Grayskull shaken and divided. It’s up to warriors Teela (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Andra (Tiffany Smith) to unite the heroes on a quest to restore the balance and solve the mystery of the missing Sword of Power.
With the King of Pop Culture at the helm, along with a whole host of wonderful genre writers (Marc Bernardin (Castle Rock, Alphas), Eric Carrasco (Supergirl), Diya Mishra (Magic the Gathering) and Tim Sheridan (Reign of the Supermen and Batman: The Long Halloween), you know the beloved franchise is in safe hands. While it’s a clearly a wonderful love letter to the original, the series also offers a bold new direction for both old and new fans alike. What impressed me the most however, is the beautifully written and heartfelt character arcs, paired with a number of surprising twists and turns – the creative team certainly aren’t afraid to take risks! Weighty and emotional themes such as confronting your fears and failures, along with what happens when our heroes fail us, are explored throughout Andra and Teela’s fun and epic quest. As the duo strive to reunite the broken band of heroes and help bring balance once again to Eternia, their compelling journey will instantly hook you in – the series is most definitely your next binge watch!
The all-star vocal cast wonderfully bring to life the much loved animated characters, breathing real life into the beautifully written (and often amusing) scripts. The established forces of Castle Grayskull and Snake Mountain all return, with Supergirl’s Chris Wood heroically at the helm of He-Man, while the legendary Mark Hamill brings his wickedly brilliant ways (cackle!) to Skeletor. However, I quickly found myself becoming more emotionally connected to the ragtag bunch of misfits thanks to the depth and development of their individual arcs. They’re all afforded their own time to shine, as each character undergoes their own personal journey.
Lena Headey’s Evil-Lyn is a surprising standout, with the Game of Thrones veteran bringing a nuanced and layered performance to the ‘villainous’ role. Her amusingly evolving dynamic between Griffin Newman’s Orko the magician, along with heroes Teela and Andra, is a real treat. However, the real star of the show is Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Teela, who has just as much of an important role as He-Man – and it’s brilliant to see such a strong female lead. Reeling from significant revelations, the warrior also has to face her own trials and tribulations in order to solve the mystery of the missing Sword of Power, forcing her to become the hero the people need. Andra’s involvement s also very much overdue in this universe, with DC Daily’s Tiffany Smith bringing a real enthusiasm to the role, acting as the audience’s introduction into the World. Long time animation fans will also recognise the wonderful voices of Susan Eisenberg, Phil LaMarr and Kevin Conroy – along with a certain Jason Mewes!
The superb animation, from the studio behind hit Netflix animated series Castlevania, certainly feels like a worthy continuation to the original. Powerhouse Animation Studios has managed to capture the look of the key characters and world of the 80s series, while dialling up the vibrancy of the colours and adding an anime feel – much like She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. However, one of the biggest changes is Teela’s character design which I adored – particularly her punky hair and actual muscles worthy of an Amazonian warrior! Much more of Eternia is also explored, and the various terrains, natural habitats and more magical elements are extremely well rendered. Emmy Award-winning Bear McCreary (the man behind The Walking Dead, Battlestar Galactica and Outlander score) has created a real 80s-inspired metal score to the series, which brings a whole lot of atmosphere to the numerous action sequences and battles.
Relive your childhood again with the hugely nostalgic and action-packed Masters of the Universe: Revelation, a series which wonderfully builds upon the beloved original in an epic and surprisingly emotional quest. Kevin Smith and the team of writers have crafted something special for both new and old fans alike, opening up the world to a brand new audience with a fantastic tale full of twists and turns. I honestly can’t wait for part two!