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Power Of Grayskull: The Definitive History Of He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe (DVD Review)

Power Of Grayskull: The Definitive History Of He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe (Now that’s a lengthy title if I’ve ever seen one), calls to be THE documentary of the one who shouts “I have the power!” Netflix has a fantastic series called The Toys That Made US (FANTASTIC series, especially if you were an 80s kid) which spent an episode focusing on He-Man. Being the prime audiences for that product then and now (With retrospectives), I was immediately intrigued and wanted to see what could be done with an even deeper dive. Which now brings us to Power of Grayskull: TDHOH-MATMOTU for…short? Its arrived on DVD September 3rd from High Octane, which we will now be checking out. Its purely the documentary (With 2 audios) on the disc, so very much in it to win it with the content.

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Film 

In the early 1980s He-Man arrived on the scene and hit the world with a punch as powerful as the character himself. Designed in the wake of Conan the barbarian and under the shadow of Star Wars, He-Man’s surprising popularity spawned a multi billion dollar empire that included toys, comic books, cartoons, live-action movies and a literal sister spinoff show – She-Ra – and continues to appeal to a ravenous fan-base today. Watch as artists, creators and collaborators dig deep, tell tales and share the surprising developments of an unlikely, unparalleled pop culture success in this Definitive History of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Do you have the power?

From Randall Lobb and Robert McCallum, THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL : The Definitive History of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe chronicles the beginnings and blockbuster-success of ‘80s toy sensation He-Man in an exhaustive, captivating 95 minute documentary that melts back the plastic on Eternia’s best-kept secrets!

The Power Of Grayskull is a fascinating and continued dive into everything He-Man. Some of these things had been touched upon in the prior mentioned Netflix program, but here expands and goes much more into the things that aren’t the action figures. This is where this particular look excels. This one adds all the details into the television show and goes into the movie and such. There are all sorts of sketches, early production designs and more that are quite interesting. You also get the history, original names, motives and more as we hear the problems with storytelling and keeping the children’s program running like a machine.

One aspect that differs in this full documentary is the feel of it. This one is a bit more serious approach. Maybe not as much in the people, but its felt that way in the score and editing. Toys That Made Us was bouncy, punchy and energetic shock to the system. Power of Grayskull is more the televisions Sunday Night Movie drama of it all. This isn’t bad, mind you, but it is quite different. Less jokey and funny and more serious and detailed for the hardcore.

Overall, this is a great followup to learning about the toys. And what’s great about this movie is that is seems to have taken notes on The Toys That Made US and made a concentrated effort to not just repeat a lot of the material there and to focus where that one hadn’t. It is a definitive look at the overall history of He-Man for sure, as it covers the character and universe through all the pop culture avenues and media which is consumed and dominated in its era.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-2 NTSC

Resolution: 48oi

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: DVD-9

Clarity/Detail: Sure, its always a bummer when a company opts for on DVD for a release. However, High Octane is a smaller company, DVD is cheaper and well…this is a documentary. A documentary about an animated show and action figures at that. It also features a lot of video sourced clips from the 1980s. So, really, Blu-ray may be a waste on something like this. Think of it as a glorified bonus feature. That being said, this looks really good for a DVD and probably the best you can ask for. Its pretty sharp, features some really good detail and plenty of strong colors.

Depth:  Its a pretty flat image, thanks to the nature of the compression, but this is a rather still looking thing being a documentary, so its no real issue.

Black Levels: There are plenty of instances of crush, but this overall runs pretty solid thanks to a lot more animated sections and stagnant images.

Color Reproduction: Colors come through quite well, especially on the drawings and animations. Thanks to people sitting still and the like, colors protrude better than normal. One guy has a read couch that really pops.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent throughout. Closeups give you some terrific (for DVD) looks at facial features and texture, though medium shots aren’t too shabby as well

Noise/Artifacts:  Features your typical limitations of the DVD format.

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Stereo Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: While its nice that they offer a 5.1 option for the film, it really doesn’t need more than the stereo track. In fact the default setting is stereo.  The volume is set a little lower, but the mix is pretty well balanced, with voices taking the center stage and louder than all as to be clear and heard. Impressively, the vintage clips sound really good, fresh and clean too.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer is on the lighter end of tapping into the boom, mostly save for the music in the film and maybe a clip or two.

Surround Sound Presentation: There things that can happen in the rear channels, but they mostly just help to add to the score.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and pretty crisp .

Extras 

Power of Grayskull: The Definitive History of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe contains no bonus features.

Summary 

Power of Grayskull tells a fascinating deep dive into one of my favorite commercial properties as a child. High Octane has released a pretty impressive looking DVD to the point that you really don’t think it needed a Blu-ray edition THAT bad. There are no extras, but this movie really is a big extra that could go on a season of the old TV show. Its worth a look, but I don’t know about an own. If you’re curious, take a look at The Toys That Made Us and see if you’d want to know much more about the subject. I think you will.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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