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Case Number 13085

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He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe (2002): Volume One

BCI Eclipse // 2002 // 286 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 27th, 2008

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson has the power...and it is sweet.

The Charge

I have the power! Version 2.0!

Opening Statement

This 21st century rejuvenation of the classic '80s cartoon gets the vaunted BCI Eclipse treatment. Is Eternia worth revisiting?

Facts of the Case

Prince Adam is a slacker and his stud dad King Randor bemoans the fact he's not up to the task of being as bad-ass as his old man was. See, back in the day Randor and his league of Defenders repelled an invading force of bad guys led by a blue-clad evil bastard that would eventually become Skeletor thanks to a face full of acid.

Now, years and years later, Skeletor is back on the prowl, shadowed by his loyal band of freakish misfits—Beast Man, Evil Lyn, Triclops, etc—and determined to finish what he started. To protect Eternia, the Sorceress summons Prince Adam to Castle Grayskull, where she zaps him with her mojo and he is endowed with the ability to transform into He-Man, the most powerful man in the universe.

Volume One sports the first 13 episodes from the first season on three discs.

The Evidence

A few things have changed since we last saw Skeletor and the kids, but much of the He-Man mythology has remained intact for the reboot. And, thankfully, this series has nothing to do with the horror that was The New Adventures of He-Man. So let's do a compare and contrast between the original and new series…

• He-Man
All business this time. He takes out the trash minus the extensive sermonizing, though his do-gooder one-liners are missed. Some better-defined deltoids make up for that though.

• Skeletor
The new Skeletor is as much the verbally abusive prick he was back in the old days, but he's sporting some ninja-like agility this go-round so good for him.

• Prince Adam
Adam from the '80s was a fragile Boy Scout with a sotto voce that proved his testilces hadn't dropped yet. Adam from 2002 is more or less and snot-nosed kid, but at least he has some personality and feistiness.

• Cringer/Battlecat
Battlecat 2002 is more ferocious, though Cringer 2002, while still a pussy (rimshot!) is lacking the comic relief of his '80s predecessor.

• Man-at-Arms
Essentially the same in both series, tough 2002 version gets points for his left hand, which can transform into a cannon.

• Teela
The more practical outfit alone gives 2002 Teela the edge. As cheaply thrilling as the '80s formfitting/high-heels ensemble was, the new Teela's outfit and attitude make for a nicer complement to He-Man.

• King Randor
No contest. King Randor from two decades ago sat in his throne all day and tended to his beard. The new Randor plays for f—--—keeps.

• Orko
Still annoying after 20 years, so nostalgia carries '80s Orko.

Other favorites like Stratos and Beastman and Ram-Man and Merman are present and accounted for. Overall, I really dug this reimagining of the classic series, though "reimagining" might not be the right word, if it's a word at all (I'm getting the red squiggly line underneath it though I'm sure I've heard it before).

The storylines are still out there, but that's what you'd expect from a kids fantasy series. The major changes, substance-wise, have to with the characters, who simply aren't as cheesy and one-dimensional as they used to be. Skeletor is still all about the evil, but he's not a whiny buffoon. And He-Man is more an action hero than a guy who stands around lecturing villains then punches the screen. Adam benefits the most from the update. Little more than a placeholder in other shows, he's got more of a character in this series, and the juxtaposition between him and He-Man is more in line with the familiar construct of super-heroes and their mild-mannered alternate identities.

The animation is quite good. The series sports an anime-inspired sense of style, which lends itself to more dynamic action sequences, of which there are plenty in the series. Though most of the characters retain their original looks (thankfully, especially when you consider the abortions that were the New Adventures of He-Man models), the 2002 interpretations are highly detailed and basically cooler. The real surprise in all of this was the score, easily one of the best I've heard for an animated show and right up there with Batman: The Animated Series.

All of these elements come together nicely in another stellar presentation from BCI Eclipse. These guys know and love their He-Man and their latest release boasts the style and top-notch audio and visual treatment I've come to expect from the studio. Episodes receive a crystal-clear 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that accentuates the art style well. The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix works that great soundtrack to satisfaction. The packaging is absolutely beautiful, too.

Extras are great. Five commentaries from the filmmakers on the first two discs are insightful and obviously delivered by guys who have a love for the product. The third disc is solely for bonus materials. The standout is the series of three video commentaries, featuring a running storyboard comparison and shots of the guys delivering their commentary. It's a great supplemental. Animatics, still galleries and a 25-minute highlight show wrap up the excellent offering.

Closing Statement

This is a fun, sweet-looking animated resuscitation of an iconic property. As a He-Man fan, I whole-heartedly approve. BCI Eclipse knocks another one out of the park with a top-shelf set.

The Verdict

You've got the power, yo.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 90
Extras: 95
Acting: 85
Story: 85
Judgment: 88

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
Genres:
• Action
• All Ages
• Animation
• Fantasy
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Five Commentaries
• Video Commentaries
• Still Galleries
• Highlight Show
• Animatics
• Scripts
• Art Cards








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