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Some of the fondest memories from my childhood include He-Man and all the other characters that were on the show. Or better yet, the toys that came about because of the series; I owned every single one of them and played with them all day for years. Those are some memories that will last for the rest of my life because He-Man was my childhood hero unlike other boys who idolized G.I. Joe. All of those who inhabited Eternia like Man-At-Arms, Orko, Skeletor, Trap Jaw, and others were part of my everyday life. He-Man was a true bad ass and nothing could make him less then the butt kicker he was. And then Secret Of The Sword came around and all my fellow He-Man freaks thought that the strongest man in the universe was about to fall in love.
He-Man is a guy that is the muscular and fearless alter-ego of Prince Adam of Eternia. Together with Man-At-Arms, Teela, and other courageous friends, they protect their home planet from the evil forces of Skeletor. The evil leader stationed in Snake Mountain and his minions do whatever they can to take over Eternia and steal the power sword from He-Man, but they have so far done nothing but fail. He-Man has been given a new journey to go on by the Sorceress who wishes he bring a jeweled sword like his own to a warrior in the land of Etheria. Little did he know how dangerous his somewhat simplistic sounding trek would be.
Not long after arriving in Etheria, He-Man is captured by a woman named Adora who is the leader of the evil Horde army. Some research, misconceptions, and similarities make He-Man realize that Adora is actually his long lost twin sister that was kidnapped as a baby by the leader of the Horde, Hordak. She was taken to Etheria and forced to work on the side of evil so that they could dominate the land. He-Man must work as hard as he can and use the secret powers of Greyskull to make Adora understand who she truly is before it’s too late.
The Secret Of The Sword was Mattel and Filmmation’s way of bringing one of their most successful animated series to the big screen. It worked and made for an extremely lucrative spin-off show in She-Ra: Princess Of Power. So many young boys were already obsessed with He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe, but young girls had no one to really look up to on that show except for the rarely seen Teela or Sorceress. Bringing about a female version of He-Man would not only give little girls someone to look up to, but make the way for more storylines with new characters and crossovers.
Here is a film that not only was going to bring in millions of kids around the world, but parents along with them. And the cool thing is that they not only made a film aimed towards an audience full of children, but one that adults could enjoy just the same. It would have to be one of the first motion pictures I’ve ever seen that had a really cool twist in it. All of my friends and I went to the theatre thinking that He-Man was about to turn pansy and fall in love with someone, but then SWERVE…he really has a twin sister that is just like him. Holy hell, are you kidding me? All this time we were setting ourselves up for somewhat of a disappointment and it turned out to be one of the most awesome things ever.
The Secret Of The Sword is an animated film that stands the test of time even though most of today’s younger generation wouldn’t probably care for it. The animation is slow and not as perfect as today’s computer imagery, but it was perfect for the time period of the mid-eighties. It was very detailed and beautifully done for lands that didn’t really exist. Then there’s the story itself which is so incredibly deep that you can’t help but get engrossed in it because you are learning everything. Why was Adora in Etheria instead of Eternia? How did Adora and Prince Adam not know they had a twin? Why didn’t King Randor and the Queen ever say anything about their kidnapped daughter? All of those questions and so much more are answered in the really good build-up to the giant revelation. Then the second half of the film sets up things for both television series so that everyone won’t miss a beat.
The film is shown in 1.33:1 Full Screen format and it looks as good as eighties animation always did. Oddly enough it looks really good for being almost twenty-five years old. All the colors are bright and not fading whatsoever.
The film is heard in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Sound and I would have enjoyed hearing it all with surround sound. The music is awesome, the dialogue is great, and the special effects sounds are so damn cool. It would have been fantastic hearing it around the room, but the stereo sound works fine.
Audio Commentary – Lou Scheimer, Larry DeTillio, Gwen Wetzler, and Alan Oppenheimer get together for commentary and it’s hosted by Andy Mangels. It’s just so weird hearing Oppenheimer talk because all I can hear is Cringer. Mangels throws out questions or suggestions for conversations and the others answer. It’s very informative and quite amusing at times listening to their old stories as to how the film came to be. Well worth listening to since you’ll probably check out the film more then once anyway.
Script – Saved as a PDF file, the script can be viewed by inserting the DVD into your computer.
“I Have The Power” Music Video Featurette – Erika Scheimer talks about what her reasoning was behind writing the song and then the video is shown. The video is then shown in Spanish and an alternate version.
“I Have The Power” Music Video Storyboard Comparison – The video is simply shown side by side with the roughly drawn storyboards.
“I Have The Power” Music Video Sheet Music Sing-a-long – Wow, not only are the words shown at the bottom of the screen for you to sing along karaoke style, but it’s complete with musical notes. Pretty cool.
Trivia – The scene select menus have trivia and informative tidbits included on them. Here’s a cool piece of trivia for you, did you know that the voice of He-Man (John Erwin) was in the film Back To The Future II? Yep, it’s the scene where Old Biff and Biff from 1955 are sitting in his car in the garage and listening to a football game on the radio. The radio announcer is none other then He-Man himself. Go ahead. Check it out. I know you want to. I’ll wait.
A really great animated film that is just as good today on my television set as it was over twenty years ago in the theatre. And you know what’s cooler then cool? I actually got to meet He-Man and She-Ra after the film was over. I know you’re all jealous. But for those that grew up on He-Man, pick up a copy of this film and be sent back to your childhood days. Try and get your kids to watch it and really understand it too because it’d be well worth their time. It’s better then half the crap they watch nowadays. The special features aren’t in great numbers or incredibly long, but the audio commentary is phenomenal. They have so much fun telling stories, making fun of things, and just reminiscing about all the great times they had while doing both series and the film itself.
There is one thing though that keeps this DVD from getting a perfect score. A while back, a collection of episodes from She-Ra: Princess Of Power were released in a “best of” two DVD set. Included in that set is the film The Secret Of The Sword with all of the same special features that you’ll find on this DVD. I understand wanting to release it on its own because it really is a separate entity. But the least they could have done is not released this stand alone version of the film with a DVD that says “The Best Of She-Ra Disc 1” on it.
Navarre Corporation presents The Secret Of The Sword. Directed by: Ed Friedman & Lou Kachivas. Starring (voice talents): John Erwin, Melendy Britt, Alan Oppenheimer, Linda Gary, Erika Scheimer, George DiCenzo, and more. Written by: Lawrence G. DiTillio & Bob Forward. Running time: 90 minutes. Rating: G. Released on DVD: May 6, 2008. Available at Amazon.com