Wednesday, November 28, 2007

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe; Animated fantasy series, USA, 2002; D: Jong-Sik Nam, Gary Hartle, S: Cam Clarke, Brian Dobson, Lisa Ann Beley, Paul Dobson, Gary Chalk, Kathleen Barr

King Randor won over the evil Kendor, who burned his face, and stopped him from conquering the council of savants. But Kendor changed his name into Skeletor, broke the shield of defense and went with his warriors to conquer the royal palace. Frivolous Adam (16), Randor's son, accepts the power of the Sorceress and transforms into He-Man, a powerful fighter for justice. Teela, the daughter of Man-At-Arms, even falls in love with him. Together with his new powers, He-Man battles Skeletor.

"He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" was a nostalgic TV show from '83 that sadly didn't live up to it's hype, yet was followed by a bizarre remake series "The New Adventures of He-Man" that was rightfully instantly forgotten in '90, and then by another "He-Man" remake series in 2002. This last one tried to create the same reputation as the original, yet failed because it dwelled too much into post-modern trash elements of it's time that were doomed to become dated sooner or later. Yet even though it also has as much flaws as the original, only of different kind, it's very different due to it's bizarre and dark tone. In the opening credits Adam and his tiger Cringer show up and look directly into the camera while gently saying: "I am Adam, the defender of Eternia. This is Cringer, my favorite..." until he is suddenly all of the blue interrupted by an explosion in the background which causes him to brokenly duck while in the air in maniristic manner bad guys fly one over the other.

In the story they have been turned almost into horror figures: Trap-Jaw has a scary mechanical arm and is full of stitches on his body; Beast-Man is a terrifying giant who manipulates monsters; Meer-Man allows a giant fish to grab Man-At-Arms by his hand and swallow him... While the original "He-Man" was static, introverted, emotional and humanistic, this one is dynamic, extroverted, cold and neo-modernistic, even going so far to model the main hero as character suited for hip-hop generation, like in the scene where Adam is goofing around with the Sorceress in a moronic way ("I knew this day would come!", she says, meaning that he is destined to become He-Man. But he replies with: "Well, my birthday is every year!" - "A hero showed up..." - "And here he is: Man-At-Arms!" - "No, it's you!" - "Is this a joke?"). Unfortunately, the authors forgot that horror, anxiety and dark mood don't always necessarily mean quality, causing the story to swiftly fall into the territory of triviality and the fans to conclude that the old "He-Man", despite all of it's flaws, had more magic to it.


No comments: