Masters of the Universe: Revolution

STREAMING REVIEW:

Netflix;
Animated;
Not rated.
Voices of Chris Wood, Mark Hamill, Melissa Benoist, Liam Cunningham, Lena Headey, Diedrich Bader, Gates McFadden, Stephen Root, Griffin Newman, Tiffany Smith, Ted Biaselli, Meg Foster, Keith David, John De Lancie, Jeffrey Combs, William Shatner.

The latest chapter in the “Masters of the Universe: Revelation” saga is a blast of “He-Man” awesomeness that fans of the franchise have been awaiting for nearly 40 years.

“Revelation,” a continuation of the 1980s “He-Man” lore spearheaded by Kevin Smith, offered a nostalgia-driven storyline that updated many of the characters, though some fans complained that He-Man was sidelined in favor of focusing on Teela and her unique destiny in Eternian lore.

“Masters of the Universe: Revolution” should appease the concerns fans had with the “Revelation” by putting He-Man back in the center of the action. When binged, the five episodes of “Revolution” play like an epic two-hour “MOTU” movie.

When tragedy befalls the royal house of Eternia, Prince Adam (Chris Wood) must decide whether the best path forward would for him to assume the mantle of king, or to remain Eternia’s champion in his alternate identity of He-Man. Teela (Melissa Benoist), meanwhile, adjusts to her ascension as the new Sorceress of Grayskull, and sets out to restore Preternia, an afterlife where warriors’ souls can rest in peace. But their plans are once again threatened by Skeletor (Mark Hamill), whose new scheme promises to pave the way for the evil Hordak (Keith David) to invade the planet.

Aside from one extremely boneheaded decision by Prince Adam, there’s a lot here for the franchise’s fans to love, starting with an outstanding guest turn by William Shatner as a key figure in the secret history of Eternia’s royal house.

The references to the original “He-Man” toy line and the Filmation cartoon based upon them fly fast and furious. But the creative team also weaves in elements from other “MOTU” storylines, such as the 1987 live-action film.

It culminates in one of the most satisfying final sequences that a 1980s toy property could possibly yield, while also providing a path for future storylines should Netflix continue the series.

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 12/12/23;
Shout! Studios;
Comedy;
$19.98 DVD, $26.98 Blu-ray, $36.98 UHD BD;
Not rated.
Stars Daniel Radcliffe, Evan Rachel Wood, Rainn Wilson, Thomas Lennon, Spencer Treat Clark, Julianne Nicholson, Toby Huss, Arturo Castro, Will Forte, Jack Black, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Quinta Brunson, Diedrich Bader, “Weird Al” Yankovic.

What else would a movie about the life of song parody specialist “Weird Al” Yankovic be but a spoof of musician biopics?

Based on a fake trailer posted by Funny or Die in 2010, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story pokes fun at the music scene and pop culture in the 1980s.

It begins with a young, misunderstood boy whose parents discouraged his dream of writing goofy new lyrics for established songs, telling him that, for the sake of the family, he should “stop being who you are and doing the things you love” and get a job at the local factory.

Instead, the adult Al Yankovic (Daniel Radcliffe) moves to Hollywood with a passion for the accordion, but is rejected by the record labels. Taking his talents to open mic nights at bars, he’s discovered by novelty act radio broadcaster Dr. Demento (Rainn Wilson), and quickly becomes the bad boy of the music industry, sparking a relationship with Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood) that takes him down a dark path and a confrontation with drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.

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Needless to say, almost none of this actually happened. But the film is a treasure trove of laughs for fans of Yankovic’s songs who will most appreciate the meta humor on display. For instance, in Al’s first meeting with the brothers who run his record label, one of them berates him as a worthless, no-talent hack while the camera cuts to the other brother, who is played by the real “Weird Al,” wincing in discomfort at the insults.

But the film’s best scene might be a take-off on the pool party from Boogie Nights, as Al is introduced to the wacky menagerie of the offbeat personalities and oddballs of the 1970s and ’80s, and is challenged by Wolfman Jack (a precision cameo by Jack Black) to come up with a parody song on the spot, which Al defiantly does to cement his path toward becoming a legend.

However, Al quickly becomes disenchanted by his success as a parody artist, and endeavors to create his own original songs. So after a drug-infused vision straight out of The Doors, he writes “Eat It,” leading to one of the film’s better running jokes that posits musicians such as Michael Jackson are actually parodying Yankovic’s songs. (There’s a bit of irony here as the real-life Yankovic has plenty of originals in his catalog, though still in a humorous vein.)

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Just to complete the journey of his life’s work, Yankovic contributes a new song for the end credits, as no blockbuster would be complete without a new tune cynically produced for awards-season bait. (The song, “Now You Know,” was indeed nominated for an Emmy).

There is nothing here to be taken seriously, but plenty to appreciate for the hilariously dumb fun that it is, just like Yankovic’s music.

Originally released for streaming by the Roku Channel in 2022, Weird makes its way to 4K, Blu-ray and DVD from Shout! Studios with an extensive selection of bonus materials.

The 4K combo pack includes the film on both a 4K disc and a regular Blu-ray Disc, and offers an informative commentary track with Yankovic and director Eric Appel in which they discuss pretty much every aspect of the production.

There are no additional extras on the 4K disc, but plenty on the Blu-ray.

Yankovic and Appel also appear in a 24-and-a-half-minute video in which they introduce and discuss a number of deleted, extended and alternate scenes which are pretty funny but were ultimately removed for timing and tone issues. The segment includes about a dozen unused clips.

Also included is a four-minute making-of featurette, and numerous clips of the stars hitting the interview circuit. Included are Yankovic and Radcliffe on “Late Night with Seth Meyers: (10 minutes); TheWrap.com interviewing Yankovic and Appel (four minutes); and Variety.com interviewing Radcliffe, Wood and Appel at the Toronto International Film Festival (eight minutes). There’s also a two-minute IMDb.com video about the cameos in the pool party scene.

Rounding out the extras is a five-minute lyric video for “Now You Know,” the film’s trailers, and a two-minute montage of Yankovic doing Roku promos of the film.

About the only thing not included is the original Funny or Die trailer, which can be found easily enough online.

Originally published as a streaming review Nov. 13, 2022.