BCI Eclipse // 2002 // 286 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 11th, 2008
"Time to put these crabs on ice!"
-- He-Man, "The Island"
The post-millennium re-imagining of He-Man scores another top-shelf release from BCI.
You know how they roll on Eternia. When Skeletor and his band of evil dickheads come knocking, it falls to Prince Adam to hold aloft the Sword of Power, say the magic words and KA-POW turn into the alpha male to end alpha males -- He-Man.
With his BFF Man-at-Arms at his side and perennial heroes Ram-Man, Man-E-Faces, Teela and other assorted good guys holding up the rear, He-Man defends Eternia and the secrets of Castle Grayskull against the omnipresent threat of Skeletor and the denizens from Snake Mountain. Not that there's much to worry about. Those guys are about as adequate a fighting force as Saddam's Republican Guard.
Three discs: The second 13 episodes (of 39 total) on the first two discs and bonus features on the third.
When you're squaring off with the "Most Powerful Man in the Universe," and all you bring to the battle is an evil witch who prefers making emasculating remarks instead of casting evil spells, a mentally retarded half-beast/half-man and some a-hole with a spinning viewfinder on his head of course you're going to have your ass handed to you time and time again. Such is the case with Skeletor and his forces of evil, forever dragging their tired, war-weary hides to Snake Mountain following yet another humiliating defeat at the hands of He-Man (and occasionally, to add insult to injury, one of the fruitiest heroes of all time, Buzz-Off, the fearsome attack bumblebee man). No wonder Skeletor is such an abusive prick to his subordinates.
And that's the beauty of the Masters of the Universe mythology: old-school heroes that are flawless in every way versus bad guys that are irredeemably douchey. This 2002 relaunch of the beloved '80s cartoon (beloved by me for sure) brings that same dynamic to its adventures, and succeeds on a bunch of other levels, too.
Crafted in 2002, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe sports some excellent art, exciting action sequences and the typical far-out, sci-fi/fantasy plots that fans of the brand have come to enjoy.
The first thing you'll notice is the improved animation -- certainly improved over the low-budget recycle-heavy production of the original series (how many times did we see He-Man punch the screen?) and the abysmal low-grade all-around experience that was The New Adventures of He-Man. There's almost an anime feel to the artwork in this series and it suits the action well. The characters all seem to be about 10 years younger than their '80s counterparts (having Adam as a teenager is preferable than Adam, the single grown man living in his parents' basement and wearing pink clothes), lending the series a "hipper" feel. But the hipness comes not from a change in wardrobe but from the excellent technical work, the attractive visuals supplemented by an active soundtrack.
Most everything else still rings of vintage He-Man. The crazy characters (Two-Bad and Odiphus and Stinko and Roboto), the plot devices (Legacy Stones and Eternium and the Crystal of Prasinus and the Triad of Discidium), the episode-ending morals, the loincloths -- it's all here, making the reboot feel like a He-Man show. There are a few differences, and for the mort part, they're welcome, e.g. Orko's buffoonery is dialed down a notch, there's a noticeable and satisfactory decrease in post-episode group laughter and Cringer's not as big a pussy, no pun intended.
Okay, you got me, that last pun was totally intended.
The DVD set is as tight as I've come to expect from BCI. Episodes are delivered in a beautiful 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, buttressed by a decent two-channel audio track. "Orko's Garden" and "Snake Pit" feature commentaries from the creative team and the third disc brings image galleries, animatics and behind-the-scenes footage of the voice actors recording their dialogue. Also included: two art cards and detailed, full-color liner notes.
As much as I dig this series, I confess there's something -- missing. At times, the shows seem sterile, and though they outpace the '80s version considerably in the technical department, they lack the charm of the original. Or maybe that's blind nostalgia. Also, the volume ends in a brutal cliffhanger.
For He-Man fans, this is good stuff. It'll leave you hanging, but the slick presentation will dull the pain.
By the power of Grayskull, not guilty!
Review content copyright © 2008 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: BCI Eclipse
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 286 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Image Galleries
* Art Cards
* DVD Verdict Review - Volume 1