Saturday, July 24, 2021

IN THE EVENT YOU Play ” NEW WORLD “? Beta Impressions From The Frontier

Amazon Games’ upcoming MMORPG New World is in the spotlight as a lengthy closed beta session shows off the action ahead of an August 31st release. New World has changed its vision multiple times over the course of development, and now the question on everyone’s mind is – where is this going to land on release? What kind of player is it for? What kind of MMORPG is it? And perhaps the most important question, is it worth your time at all? Over the course of the beta (and a demo session that took me into an endgame slice with a fully-geared character), I’ve seen some areas with huge potential that are currently underserved in the MMORPG space – and some others that could be intense detriments for the title. Let’s talk about New World!It successfully lands a powerful frontier survival vibe If you’re familiar with survival games that have you punching wood to get a house going, New World delivers on this front initially by giving the player myriad survival pursuits. Hunting turkey on the borders of your established safe zones to raise your cooking skill and create rations is far more engaging than it has any right to be. Hunting down elusive saltpeter deposits in mines and crafting your own shells for your old-timey rifles feels fun. Being able to skill up in everything to your liking is a classic system à la Runescape, and its nice to know you can work up every single crafting and gathering skill if you wish, right down to doing some fishing. Banging together your first batch of gathering tools is actually freaking awesome. Digging up carrots and potatoes feels meaningful. Coming back to your town in the middle of the wilderness to trade feed and talk with your fellow explorers has all the allure of bustling about Disney’s Frontiertown, and I’ve rarely had so much investment into crafting and trading systems in MMOs. I can see potential problems with these aspects later down the line, i.e. do I really want to spend my time in the endgame gathering resources just so I can play the game, but for now, there’s plenty of magic in creating my own food, ammunition, and supplies before I trek out into the wild. It feels gritty, it feels raw, and it feels fresh. Faction PVP can be a lot of fun Territory control and faction-based opt-in PVP not only bring back a bit of realm-vs-realm feel from the glory days of Dark Age of Camelot, but they inject something that many online experiences have moved away from in the last decade – social interaction. That means yes, you are going to see a player named PoopyPants (Yes, this was a real player I saw) cutting down trees and screaming outside of town about the price of silver ore, and your chat feed is going to be inundated with comments that make the infamous Barrens chat look downright erudite. However, it also successfully adds shared social stakes to the experience, even if you choose not to interact at the verbal level with any other players. By funneling players into three different factions, you have an investment in your tribe regardless of how deep you want to take it. If you still just want to solo and bring back a load of furs to trade in town, you can – but the real fun is to be had by grouping up, interacting with others, and eventually taking over some territory as your chosen faction. At the solo, guild, and greater level, having game flow dictated by players instead of the “theme park” experience is a bold choice and more than a bit refreshing. The issue here is how interesting and meaningful are these faction wars going to be in the endgame? While I don’t have the answer to that yet, the prospect of really engaging with other players in a meaningful way in a MMORPG gives me a powerful nostalgia bump and some serious differentiation from many other genre offerings today. On the flip side, if you’re not really interested in territory wars or PvP, other existing MMORPGs might be a better choice. The combat is New World’s biggest weakness In almost every MMORPG, you’re going to be doing a ton of combat. It’s probably the biggest portion of the entire gameplay experience. With limited skill options, awkward animations, and very little excitement, New World’s combat is decidedly dull. Now, there’s something to be said about popping an opposing faction member from a great distance before you engage in a 3v3 skirmish that gets real greasy, but that’s more about the player-to-player interaction than the combat, which can often feel wooden and wonky. While I enjoy systems that attempt to break the genre out of the tab-targeting standard that’s been grandfathered into MMOs for ages, it misses the mark here.  I found it hard to determine if the other aspects of the game that seem enjoyable can carry this particular aspect either, as combat is the core of almost every other pursuit. Even if you’re just spelunking for saltpeter, you’re going to have to fight a ton of various zombie-like creatures, wolves, or bears, and it simply does not feel good. This problem is exacerbated in group experiences, both PvP and PvE, but more pronounced in the latter. Chewing into spongey opponents as a pack with the glaring lack of feedback from weaponry is almost comical, and your options in combat feel extremely limited and lacking. Everything can feel the same Enemies, locations, and activities can become a big bowl of mush without breaking it up with some PvP pursuits. You’ll see many of the same rickety little fishing villages, decrepit farms, and crumbling ruins as you traverse the giant world. Killing some undead buccaneers at level 5 feels the same as it does at level 15, and you’re going to be doing a ton of daily-quest/fetch style activities in order to grind out your faction reputation, like wandering around the aforementioned locations for boxes and killing X undead baddies. It feels intensely repetitive even after only twenty hours of gameplay, so I’m concerned about how that will translate to the endgame – will I still, as an elite member of the Syndicate, still be wandering farms killing undead and picking taters? I mean, I do like picking taters... Travel is rough When you’re just starting, it’s fine that you’re walking everywhere because you don’t have far to go. However, this takes a turn at around level 12, where you’ll find the autorun button and some movies on your favorite streaming platform to be your best friends. The world is large, and traveling it all on foot is a huge pain. Without mounts, and the fact that fast travel is limited by resources, moving around the map is an absolute bore and a chore. I realize there are other meaningful concerns that probably flow into this decision, like the implications of having everyone zoom around in a game that’s attempting to create stakes with territory control and PvP, but this becomes harder and harder to ignore the more you play and get quests on opposite ends of your map. Forging ahead Based on the beta, New World is going to be an interesting but potentially niche addition to the current crop of MMORPGs. However, it seems to really serve players that want to play with small groups of friends for faction skirmishes and that are interested in greater territory control wars with big guild politics and all that. If you’re not interested in that kind of greater pursuit with plenty of social interaction and PvP, the PvE elements by themselves do not seem compelling enough to keep things rolling.  While I love the feeling of crafting my own stuff, slowly increasing the areas that I’m strong enough to explore, and fastidiously upping all my gathering and crafting skills, I can see those charms fading rapidly as the activities become somewhat rote. The dynamics involved in faction wars and territory control seem to be the peppy antidote for the never-ending rock farm in various undead shacks and homesteads. As with other games that lean into this kind of emergent gameplay (RIP Shadowbane), some of New World will be what players shape it into.
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    Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead was a smash hit for both the filmmaker and Netflix, so it should come as no surprise that a sequel for the film is already in the works. RELATED: Leslie Grace to Star as Barbara Gordon in DC & Warner Bros.’ BatgirlAccording to a recent report from The Hollywood Reporter, Snyder has signed a first-look film deal with Netflix through he and his producing partner Deborah Snyder’s production banner The Stone Quarry Productions. The deal is a two-year partnership, which will see Snyder’s upcoming Rebel Moon also fall under the agreement, aims to have Snyder bring even more quality content to the platform. “My goal and hope are to bring as much quality content as I can and do it on a giant scale,” Zack Snyder told the outlet. “Big projects and big movies.”“For us, it was so important to find a partnership that was based on mutual respect,” Deborah Snyder said. “The creative process works best when everybody trusts each other and you can take chances and be creative. For us, we don’t usually play it safe. The content we make is a little bit edgier. And I think it’s important to have a good partnership and hear each other.”RELATED: Amazon Prime Video August 2021 Schedule: New TV & Movie AdditionsLater on in the report, it’s mentioned that a sequel to Army of the Dead is planned, with Snyder reportedly working on developing the sequel with the co-writer of the first film, Shay Hatten. Snyder would likely not begin to tackle an Army of the Dead sequel until after Rebel Moon is finished, though, so fans of the zombie heist film will have to wait some time for more information. 

    The list for the new Netflix August 2021 movies and TV titles has been revealed, which you can view below, along with the titles that are set to leave from the streaming service next month. This includes the arrival of new Netflix original series such as the Sandra Oh-led comedy series The Chair; limited series Clickbait starring Adrian Grenier; Lior Raz’s Hit & Run miniseries; and Rosa Salazar-led psychological horror miniseries titled Brand New Cherry Flavor.Next month will also see the world premieres for a number of new Netflix original movies including teen comedies The Kissing Booth 3 and He’s All That, as well as new animated features like Nickelodeon’s The Loud House Movie, and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Vivo. Before the long-awaited premiere of The Witcher Season 2 later this year, an anime feature adaptation titled The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf will first make its debut this August.RELATED: Netflix Games Will Be Free For SubscribersAvailable August 130 Rock: Seasons 1-7BeethovenBeethoven’s 2ndBeowulfCatch Me If You CanDarwin’s GameDeep Blue SeaThe Edge of SeventeenFerris Bueller’s Day OffFive Feet ApartFriday Night Lights: Seasons 1-5Good Luck ChuckThe Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of GeorgiaHunter X Hunter (2011): Seasons 5-6InceptionThe Lincoln LawyerThe LosersThe MachinistMagnoliaMajor PayneMy GirlMy Girl 2The NetThe Original Kings of ComedyPineapple ExpressPomsSeabiscuitSpace CowboysTeam America: World PoliceAvailable August 3Pray Away – NETFLIX DOCUMENTARYShiny_Flakes: The Teenage Drug Lord – NETFLIX DOCUMENTARYTop Secret UFO Projects: Declassified – NETFLIX SERIESAvailable August 4AftermathAmerican Masters: Inventing David GeffenCocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami – NETFLIX DOCUMENTARYControl Z: Season 2 – NETFLIX SERIESCar Masters: Rust to Riches: Season 3 – NETFLIX SERIESCooking With Paris – NETFLIX SERIESAvailable August 6Hit & Run – NETFLIX SERIESNavarasa – NETFLIX SERIESThe Swarm – NETFLIX FILMVivo – NETFLIX FILMAvailable August 8QuartetAvailable August 9SHAMAN KING – NETFLIX ANIMEAvailable August 10Gabby’s Dollhouse: Season 2 – NETFLIX FAMILYPhil Wang: Philly Philly Wang Wang – NETFLIX COMEDY SPECIALUNTOLD: Malice at the Palace – August 10Available August 11Bake Squad – NETFLIX SERIESThe Kissing Booth 3 – NETFLIX FILMLa diosa del asfaltoMisha and the Wolves – NETFLIX DOCUMENTARYAvailable August 12AlRawabi School for Girls – NETFLIX SERIESLokillo: Nothing’s the Same – NETFLIX COMEDY SPECIALMonster Hunter: Legends of the Guild – NETFLIX ANIMEAvailable August 13Beckett – NETFLIX FILMBrand New Cherry Flavor – NETFLIX SERIESFast & Furious Spy Racers: Season 5: South Pacific – NETFLIX FAMILYGone for Good – NETFLIX SERIESThe Kingdom – NETFLIX SERIESValeria: Season 2 – NETFLIX SERIESAvailable August 15Mother Goose Club: Seasons 3-4Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai: Season 1Winx Club: Season 6Available August 16Walk of ShameAvailable August 17Go! Go! Cory Carson: Season 5 – NETFLIX FAMILYUNTOLD: Deal with the Devil – NETFLIX DOCUMENTARYAvailable August 18The Defeated – NETFLIX SERIESOut of my league – NETFLIX FILMThe Secret Diary of an Exchange Student – NETFLIX FILMAvailable August 19Like CrazyAvailable August 20The Chair – NETFLIX SERIESEverything Will Be Fine – NETFLIX SERIESThe Loud House Movie – NETFLIX FAMILYSweet Girl – NETFLIX FILMAvailable August 23The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf – NETFLIX ANIMEAvailable August 24Oggy Oggy – NETFLIX FAMILYUNTOLD: Caitlyn Jenner – NETFLIX DOCUMENTARYAvailable August 25The November ManThe Old WaysRainbow High: Part 2Really LoveThe River RunnerTayo the Little Bus: Season 4The Water ManBob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed – NETFLIX DOCUMENTARYClickbait – NETFLIX SERIESJohn of God: The Crimes of a Spiritual Healer – NETFLIX DOCUMENTARYMotel Makeover – NETFLIX SERIESOpen Your Eyes – NETFLIX SERIESPost Mortem: No One Dies in Skarnes – NETFLIX SERIESAvailable August 26EDENS ZERO – NETFLIX ANIMEFamily Reunion: Part 4 – NETFLIX FAMILYAvailable August 27He’s All That – NETFLIX FILMI Heart Arlo – NETFLIX FAMILYTitletown High – NETFLIX SERIESAvailable August 28Bread Barbershop: Season 2Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha – NETFLIX SERIESAvailable August 31Sparking Joy – NETFLIX SERIESUNTOLD: Crime and Penalties – NETFLIX DOCUMENTARYHere’s What is Leaving Netflix in August 2021: Leaving August 1American AssassinLeaving August 4#cats_the_mewvieLeaving August 7The PromiseLeaving August 9El Cartel: Season 1El Cartel 2: SeasonNightcrawlerLeaving August 12Safety Not GuaranteedScary Movie 5Leaving August 14Mother Goose Club: Seasons 1-2Leaving August 15Jericho: Seasons 1-2Wish I Was HereLeaving August 20Kill the IrishmanNorm of the North: Keys to the KingdomThe FounderLeaving August 221BRLeaving August 26The Angry Birds Movie 2Leaving August 27A Princess for ChristmasLeaving August 29Strange but TrueLeaving August 30Casino RoyaleThe Eichmann ShowFull OutQuantum of SolaceStranger than FictionLeaving August 31AdriftAngel EyesThe Big LebowskiChinatownThe DepartedElectionThe Girl Next DoorHey Arnold! The MovieHot RodLemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)Love ActuallyLove HappensThe Manchurian CandidateMonsters vs. AliensThe MuppetsMuppets Most WantedNacho LibreMoon KingdomPootie TangThe Prince & MeResident Evil: AfterlifeResident Evil: ExtinctionThe RingRoad to PerditionThe Social NetworkSuperbadThe Time Traveler’s Wife

    Netflix has released the official trailer for Amanda Peet’s upcoming comedy-drama series The Chair, starring Golden Globe winner Sandra Oh as the first woman of color to become the head of Pembroke University’s English Department. The six-episode series will be available for streaming on Friday, August 20.The Chair trailer, which you can check out below, offers us a preview of the struggles that Oh’s Ji-Yoon must face in order to save her department from further destruction due to a scandal caused by one of its professors. Despite her groundbreaking achievement, she still needs to prove to everyone that she’s indeed capable of handling the big position.RELATED: Growing Up is a Beast in Pixar’s Turning Red Teaser Trailer The Chair follows Dr. Ji-Yoon Kim as she navigates her new role as the Chair of the English Department at prestigious Pembroke University. Ji-Yoon is faced with a unique set of challenges as the first woman to chair the department, and as one of the few staff members of color at the university. This includes the dizzying demands and high expectations of a failing English department.The series stars Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy, Killing Eve), Jay Duplass (Room 104), Nana Mensah (New Amsterdam), Ji Yong Lee, Everly Carginilla (Yes Day), Holland Taylor (Hollywood), Bob Balaban (The Politician), and David Morse (The Green Mile).RELATED: Sandra Oh To Lead Sam Raimi-Produced Horror UmmaThe Chair is written and executive produced by Amanda Peet, who is also serving as the showrunner. Executive producers are Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss along with Bernie Caulfield, and Daniel Gray Longino. Annie Julia Wyman, Richard E. Robbins, Jennifer Kim, and Andrea Troyer all serve as writers as well.

    Netflix has released the first The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf teaser trailer for their forthcoming anime film adaptation of the hit Henry Cavill-led fantasy series. The streamer has also announced that Divergent star Theo James has been officially been tapped to voice the leading role of Vesemir, a character who will also be played by Kim Bodnia in the long-awaited second season of The Witcher.The video, which you can check out below along with the first-look images, introduces us to a young Vesemir as he slays monsters for coin and glory. It also gives us a preview of the monsters that he will encounter throughout the film, which releases August 23.Tetra Gilcrest is a powerful sorceress who is descended from one of the Continent’s first mages, and believes magic connects all things of beauty. She and her followers work to keep peace on the Continent by ensuring that magic is not abused. pic.twitter.com/b2rwUnWp7A— The Witcher (@witchernetflix) July 21, 2021Deglan was raised on the harsh, unforgiving Skellige Isles and is the hardened warrior-leader of the witchers. He is fiercely loyal to his “boys,” and committed to doing whatever is necessary to protect them. pic.twitter.com/2NoXrreCXH— The Witcher (@witchernetflix) July 21, 2021RELATED: WitcherCon: The Witcher Season 2 First Teaser Trailer ReleasedThe world of The Witcher expands in this anime origin story: Before Geralt, there was his mentor Vesemir — a swashbuckling young witcher who escaped a life of poverty to slay monsters for coins. But when a strange new monster begins terrorizing a politically fraught kingdom, Vesemir finds himself on a frightening adventure that forces him to confront the demons of his past.In addition to James, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf will also feature the voices of Lara Pulver (Sherlock) as Tetra, Graham McTavish (Outlander) as Deglan, and Mary McDonell  (Dance with Wolves) as Lady Zerbst.In the books, Vesemir is the mentor and a father figure for Geralt of Rivia. The story will explore his early years as a Witcher after the mysterious Deglan claims him through the Law of Surprise.RELATED: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Next-Gen Update Features Netflix Inspired DLCThe Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is written and produced by Beau DeMayo. It is also produced by The Witcher showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich. The anime film hails from Studio Mir, the Korean animation studio behind Nickelodeon’s Legend of Korra, and Netflix’s original anime series Voltron Legendary Defender.

    Netflix has released the first Vivo clip from Sony Pictures Animation’s forthcoming animated musical movie, featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda as the voice of the titular kinkajou. The film is scheduled to make its debut on Friday, August 6.The video, which you can check out in the player below, features Vivo and his offbeat new friend Gabi as they sing their way through the Florida Everglades. It also provides us a preview of the song titled “Keep the Beat,” which was written by Miranda.RELATED: Vivo Teaser: Netflix Nabs Rights to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Animated MusicalVivo is an animated musical adventure that follows a one-of-kind kinkajou (aka a rainforest “honey bear,” voiced by Miranda), who must find his way from Havana to Miami in order to deliver a song on behalf of his beloved owner and mentor Andres, which will be voiced by Buena Vista Social Club’s Juan de Marcos González.The film is an exhilarating story about gathering your courage, finding family in unlikely friends, and the belief that music can open you to new worlds. It has an impressive voice cast led by Lin-Manuel Miranda as Vivo along with three-time Grammy-winning Latin pop legend Gloria Estefan as the love of Andres’ life, Marta and newcomer Ynairaly Simo as Andres’ grand-niece, Gabi.The voice cast also includes Zoe Saldana, Michael Rooker, Brian Tyree Henry,  Nicole Byer, Leslie David Baker, Katie Lowes, Olivia Trujillo, and Lidya Jewett. It will feature original songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and composed by Alex Lacamoire.RELATED: Sony & Netflix Ink First-Pay Streaming Licensing DealVivo is directed by Oscar nominee Kirk DeMicco (The Croods) and Brandon Jeffords (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2) from a screenplay written by Pulitzer Prize winner Quiara Alegría Hudes, who previously worked with Miranda on the Tony-winning musical In the Heights.

    After a few reports and a high-profile hiring, Netflix has officially spoken about its upcoming foray into the video game space. These games will included in the subscription and will only be on mobile devices for now. No release date or window was given.Netflix revealed this in a letter to its shareholders. On the fourth page, it cited Bandersnatch and the (poorly received) Stranger Things game from 2019 as two examples to build around. Netflix views gaming as “another new content category” and likened this endeavor to its venture into original content. After stating that it would initially be primarily focused on mobile titles, the streaming company said it wanted to learn more about how its “members value games.” Later in the letter, it said Fortnite developer and publisher Epic Games was also one of its direct competitors.RELATED: Netflix App Datamine Shows Ghost of Tsushima & DualSense ImagesThere was no word on how its gaming initiative would work or what kinds of game it was going to get on its platform. Going after the mobile market first does imply that these games would be smaller in scope and Sony might have something to do with it, given the DualSense and Ghost of Tsushima files found in a recent datamine. And while Netflix is known for streaming, Axios reported that this would include downloadable games and be like Apple Arcade, which is a subscription hub of curated games on iOS devices.RELATED: Netflix Is Reportedly Adding Video Games to Its Service

    Netflix has announced that production on the upcoming second season of their live-action fantasy series Fate: The Winx Saga has officially begun in Ireland. The announcement also comes with the release of a brand new video which you can check out below, offering us a preview of the cast’s first table read for Season 2.In addition, the streamer has also enlisted three new cast members for the new season in the form of Brandon Grace, Éanna Hardwicke, and Paulina Chávez. Grace is set to portray the role of Grey, with Hardwick cast to play Sebastian. As for Chávez, she has officially been tapped for the role of Flora, who in the animated series is one of the main leads and founding members of the Winx Club.Calling all fairy fans and specialist stans!! Here’s a behind the scenes look at the start of production script read-through for Season 2 of Fate: The Winx Saga pic.twitter.com/Szy3UiUb8z— Netflix UK & Ireland (@NetflixUK) July 20, 2021Fate: The Winx Saga Season 2 is officially in production!The returning cast gathered to meet new cast members Brandon Grace as Grey, Éanna Hardwicke as Sebastian and … Paulina Chávez as Flora!!! pic.twitter.com/4ro8hrdDkq— Netflix (@netflix) July 20, 2021RELATED: Sex Education Season 3 Teaser Welcomes You to a New MoordaleFate: The Winx Saga is coming-of-age series that follows the story of five unlikely friends attending Alfea, a magical boarding school in the Otherworld where they must learn to master their magical powers while navigating love, rivalries, and the monsters that threaten their very existence.The live-action series stars Abigail Cowen as Bloom, Hannah van der Westhuysen as Stella, Precious Mustapha as Aisha, Eliot Salt as Terra, and Elisha Applebaum as Musa. It also features Sadie Soverall, Freddie Thorp, Danny Griffin, Theo Graham, Jacob Dudman, Eve Best, Robert James-Collier, Josh Cowdery, Alex Macqueen, and Eva Birthistle.RELATED: Netflix’s Outer Banks Season 2 Trailer: The Treasure Belongs to the PoguesFate: The Winx Saga is executive produced by Brian Young (The Vampire Diaries, Kyle XY), Iginio Straffi, and Archery Pictures’ Judy Counihan and Kris Thykier. Young will also serve as the showrunner. Principal Photography has already begun in Ireland.The animated series was created by Rainbow Group CEO Iginio Straffi in 2004 and has been on-air for almost 15 years. Due to its massive success both in Europe and in the US, the series had produced a growing franchise consists of two spin-off series, merchandise, a fashion doll line, and video games.

    Netflix has tapped horror director and writer Christopher Landon to write and direct the upcoming family adventure film We Have a Ghost, according to a recent report from Deadline. RELATED: Jackass Forever Trailer Showcases Ridiculous StuntsThe film, which will star Anthony Mackie (The Falcon and The Winter Soldier), David Harbour (Black Widow), Jahi Di’Allo Winston (Charm City Kings), Tig Notaro (Army of the Dead), and Jennifer Coolidge (The White Lotus) focuses on Kevin, who finds a ghost named Ernest haunting his new home. Kevin, along with his family, then becomes an overnight social media sensation thanks to the ghost. However, as Ernest and Kevin begin to investigate the mystery of the ghosts past, they become targets of the CIA. Landon will write a script based on Geoff Manaugh’s short story “Ernest.” Dan Halsted is attached as producer, alongside Temple Hill Productions’ Marty Bowen and Isaac Klausner. The project will see Christopher Landon, John Fischer, Geoff Manaugh, Korey Budd, and Nathan Miller all serve as executive producers as well. Alongside the aforementioned cast, We Have a Ghost will also include Erica Ash (Survivor’s Remorse), Isabella Russo (School of Rock the Musical, Crashing), Niles Fitch (This Is Us), Faith Ford (Murphy Brown) and Steve Coulter (Shotgun Wedding) in various roles. RELATED: The Last Duel Trailer Previews Ridley Scott’s All-Star Medieval PicLandon is perhaps best known for his most recent film, Universal’s slasher comedy Freaky, starring Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton. Prior to that, the director was also at the helm of both Happy Death Day and its sequel, Happy Death Day 2U, and has also worked on Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse and several of the Paranormal Activity films.

    He-Man and the Masters of the Universe may have been created to sell a toyline, but there is no doubting that even by itself, the show was a cultural colossus that lived up to the image of its musclebound star. The cartoon crafted many of the elements that fans associate with the character and lore behind the franchise, as it explored a fantasy world full of magic, technology, and other sci-fi elements; a land where anything felt like it could fit into the wonderful menagerie called Eternia. This version of He-Man may have been lighter, containing more levity than the creators ever imagined, but that made it more accessible to kids. The darker tones of the action figure line’s backstory would have also been thrown off somewhat by the show’s “glamor,” with the re-colored cells, recycled animations, and other shortcuts, but it’s hard not to smile at what we saw.For those who may not know, He-Man lives on the distant planet of Eternia with his allies, Man-at-Arms, Teela, the Sorceress, along with his pet and sometimes mount, Battle Cat. They protect their world from the evil Masters of the Universe, led by the menacing Skeletor and his band of minions, Evil Lyn, Beast Man, Trap Jaw, Mer-Man, and a slew of others who seek to conquer Castle Grayskull’s power. There’s a lot more to their struggle as well, with He-Man having an alternate identity as Prince Adam, King Randor constantly being threatened, Queen Marlena revealed to be an astronaut from Earth, and I suppose we have to mention Orko as well. This is all before anyone even thinks about Etheria, She-Ra, Hordak, or any of those other quality additions. Even for people who didn’t watch the shows, read the comics, or play with the figures, some of this may still look and sound familiar.More Than Just Conan the BarbarianHe-Man comes from a recognizable mold, having originally been crafted to bear the name of the Conan franchise. We learned from The Power of Grayskull documentary that Development Designer Mark Taylor had been asked to craft “Conan stuff,” but when Mattel learned that Schwarzenneger’s film was rated R, that fell through. But with some re-tooling and a new fantasy world later, the archetype had a life of its own. Michael Halperin was also brought in to work on the world, so he infused his love of Gilgamesh and Beowulf into the character as he helped sort the good guys from the bad and discerned what motivated them.The company needed a way to get their story across to kids so that they’d want the toys, which the comics would help with, but for a wider reach, the toy company looked to Lou Scheimer and Filmation. He-Man was an American-made and produced show, and the costs would need to be kept low, which meant that animation had to be cheaper and the voice acting was performed by the same three-to-five people, usually talking to themselves in many scenes. Filmation agreed to use the characters but wanted complete creative control over their creation, and according to most, the relationship with Mattel was amiable. At times, they were asked to throw a new foe or vehicle in, but Mattel didn’t feel the need to interfere, as long as He-Man’s animated adventures were performing well. More than simply giving the toys another way to make money, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe blazed its own path for cartoons, exploding off of Saturdays and conquering a weekday schedule, showing many in the industry that shows meant for children had more potential than they ever considered. In more recent years, He-Man may best be known as fleeting nostalgia or a meme, but that wasn’t the case for a long time.He-Man and the Masters of the Universe debuted on September 5th, 1983, and there is a lot of it for a show that only ran two seasons. With 65 episodes each, there are 130 adventures to be had, not to mention the Christmas Special and episodes where he crosses over with She-Ra, like in the five-part series – also released as a movie – The Secret of the Sword. All of this content isn’t hard to find, currently, it’s free on YouTube, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be tough to get through. Let’s discuss what He-Man episodes to watch for to anyone unfamiliar with the show.He-Man Episodes to Watch Before the Netflix ShowHe-Man debuted with the episode “Diamond Ray of Disappearance,” even though it wasn’t first in the production order. It’s a solid adventure for He-Man and his band, introducing many of the characters, locations, and even a vehicle, but also hints at their relationships. It was a perfect example of the show’s season one formula and demonstrated the dynamic the showrunners were going for. There are also a good number of origin episodes, tales that explain how many of the characters came to be, building the backstory further. “BattleCat” gives fans the tale of how Prince Adam met Cringer and “Origin of the Sorceress” offers more background on that mysterious character, while providing viewers with their first glimpse of the sword that would soon be wielded by She-Ra. Almost all of the adventures where He-Man and She-Ra both appear are worth the watch time, especially for how awesome Hordak is.  This was a cartoon that tried to uplift its female characters, showing their strength when She-Ra, Queen Marlena, or the Sorceress were on screen, letting their sex appeal exist without overdoing it, minus a few oddly inserted butt shots. The writers especially focused on giving Teela several quality stories. As the Captain of the Guard, Teela has a lot of responsibility and takes action when necessary, as someone who’s serious about her role within the kingdom. This doesn’t stop her from being kind, flirty, a bit humorous, or flexing her wit in some situations, but there isn’t too much about her past until she seeks out the identity of her mother in “Teela’s Quest.” The reveal is somewhat surprising and adds an interesting dynamic to the character, but like several intriguing plot points in the show, it’s rarely brought up again. Teela continues to shine in episodes like “Teela’s Triumph” and a few others where she manages to thwart Skeletor without He-Man’s help. Other than She-Ra and Skeletor, she may be one of the most well-developed characters in the cartoon.Speaking of, we all know that a large number of fans are here just for ol’ Skull-Face himself, and there are plenty of great clips featuring him, but a few episodes to check out would be “Here, There, Skeletors Everywhere,” which as it implies, features a lot of him, and “Double Trouble,” where we see a duplicate “good” version of the villain. There is also the softer side of Skeletor in He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special, where he battles against being nice to the two kids and a dog-like creature. Some of the more entertaining episodes are also when Skeletor is forced to team up with He-Man for a common goal. Each of those is usually good for a laugh.The creators of the toyline may have not appreciated the cartoon’s lighter touches, but there were a couple of stories that edged on more serious matters. One of the most notable is where Prince Adam tries to pull a Spider-Man and give up the superhero life, discarding his sword after Skeletor convinces the hero he killed a man. “The Problem with Power” is a downer of an episode in some ways, but it teaches a strong lesson, and it isn’t the only story that shows how even He-Man has doubts and loses faith in himself at times. Bits of writing like this slipped in shouldn’t be too surprising, as some talented individuals that went on to do other sci-fi shows and cartoons worked on many of He-Man’s episodes. Names like Paul Dini, Bob Forward, D.C. Fontana, and J. Michael Straczynski all leave their mark, but it was still a children’s television show under a strict schedule. The second season broke the mold a bit, expanding the formula, but also allowed some of the plots to become more nonsensical. We see a few bad eggs like “The Toy Maker” and “The Bitter Rose,” which isn’t just groan-worthy but also focuses on Orko. There’s no shame in selecting episodes to watch based on which characters take center stage.Going back through this cartoon isn’t just fun for nostalgia, the new Masters of the Universe Revelations show is a direct continuation of the classic ‘80s creation. For those who want to get excited about the new He-Man series, but can’t get into how different and dated the old cartoon is, there were, of course, other more modern versions. Fans received The New Adventures of He-Man in 1990 and the more fondly remembered reboot of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe in 2002, but viewer mileage may vary on both. No matter which avenue one chooses to experience He-Man in preparation for the new material, it isn’t hard to get sucked into the world of Eternia and feel the power of Grayskull.

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