Case Number 14318

HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (2002): VOLUME THREE

BCI Eclipse // 2002 // 286 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 20th, 2008

The Charge

"I have the power! One last time! For realz, yo! I really mean it this time!"

Opening Statement

Okay, this is the final batch of episodes for the 2002 re-imagining of the He-Man mythos. I confess to prematurely jumping the gun when I tackled the last set, thinking that it had been the last stand of the show, and lamenting how it had seemingly ended on a cliffhanger...

Facts of the Case

...which picks up with the first episode on this new set, coincidentally named "The Last Stand" and the resolution of said cliffhanger. When the credits last rolled, Prince Adam, minus his He-Man persona, was facing off with an onslaught of the most evil freaks Eternia has to offer. How evil? They're called The Council of Evil and The Evil Warriors. With certain pain and death closing in, it's on Adam to stand fast. Will he survive or succumb to a horrible, horrible death?

Well, it's not the death thing. Adam, He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Teela, and the rest of the super team live on to fight Skeletor and his minions for another twelve episodes, battling such evils as flying dragon soldiers, the Snake Men, some weird guy called Sssqueeze who's apparently oblivious to how lame his name is, Evi-Lyn's dad, Hordak, and the Horde (a blast from the She-ra past) and the Big Bad of them all, Serpos, the Snake God.

The Evidence

Yeah, full disclosure time. I was mistaken when I pegged the last release as the Last Release, but there's a positive spin to my faux pas: We get another installment of a pretty cool animated series. This 2002 update to the classic Masters of the Universe cartoon, dispenses with much of the low-budget theatrics and the syrupy feel, trading up to slicker, anime-flavored animation, a pounding Nordic soundtrack, and a whole lot more action. But it's also lacking some of the soul, most of the charm, and all of the nostalgia of the original.

What the new endeavor does retain -- in spades -- is the cornucopia of wacko villains, far-out plot devices, and the worst snake-related puns you'll ever hear. With this 13-episode sprint towards the finish line, the showrunners simply unload, employing some of the most outrageous, imaginative stories and characters the brand has ever seen. And yes, Fisto, I'm looking at you.

Interestingly, about halfway through the run, the series undergoes a fundamental shift. With the introduction of the Snake Men, led by King Hsss, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe transforms into Masters of the Universe vs. The Snake Men, complete with a change to the opening titles. While the Snake Men are actually kind of cool (even if they have dorky names -- Snake Face?! Sounds like a hurtful comment a late 1950s fourth-grader would make) the title revision strikes me as corny, in a Power Rangers-type schticky approach.

Thankfully, the home-stretch storyline is nifty, stocked with some well-executed origin moments and additions to the mythology. For example, you'll learn about the history of Snake Mountain (Hint: He's the Big Bad Bastard Serpos that the last couple of shows dealt with), get the dirt on He-Man's ancestor King Grayskull, and Man-at-Arm's brother, Fisto. Actually, never mind about that last thing, Fisto's actually super-lame.

Point is, these are a good batch of shows, preserving the elements that made the series stand out: Slick animation, driving music, creative storytelling, and Skeletor bitching and moaning about his worthless henchmen as much and ever.

Thirteen episodes spread over two discs, with the third disc tagged for extras. As usual, the episodes are transferred beautifully into a clean, color-rich 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, with a strong 2.0 stereo mix pushing the active audio mix. Extras are impressive: Commentaries on five episodes, two video commentaries, three beefy documentaries about the toy-making process, three image galleries, episode animatics, scripts, and a full-length comic adaptation of the never-produced 40th episode, which are all DVD-ROM accessible.

Closing Statement

A good way to go out, this swan song DVD set is lovingly crafted, loaded with extras, and flush with imagination.

The Verdict

Not Guilty. Um, sssssssssssssssss.

Review content copyright © 2008 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 95
Audio: 90
Extras: 95
Acting: 85
Story: 85
Judgment: 86

Perp Profile
Studio: BCI Eclipse
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 286 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Audio Commentaries
* Video Commentaries
* Interviews
* Digital Comic Book
* Image Galleries
* Animatics
* Scripts
* Art Cards

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0331744/combined