By Phil Villarreal Arizona Daily Star
One of the resounding proofs of my mother's love was seared into my brain on Saturday, March 23, 1985, when she took me to see "The Secret of the Sword," succumbing to my relentless begging the day after the film opened. This was the unmissable event in which Master of the Universe He-Man would team up with his long-lost twin sister, She-Ra, battling against not only He-Man's sworn enemy, Skeletor, but also the evil Hordak, Skeletor's cruel mentor. The animated film hooked me from the opening frame, when the monster ballad theme song "I Have the Power" blared over the speakers. It was the best movie I'd ever seen at that point in my life, and a true sacrifice for my mom, who had no appreciation of swords of power, interdimensional portals or the unyielding resourcefulness of Castle Greyskull. I'm sure she didn't receive an ounce of enjoyment from watching the film, save for the vicarious pleasure of watching her giddy 6-year-old soaking in the might, wonder and magic from the screen in the way only a kid that age can. Now "The Secret of the Sword" long forgotten by the studios, but never by me has finally been released on DVD, as part of a set titled "The Best of She-Ra: Princess of Power." I popped it into the player to watch the film for the first time in more than 21 years, prayerful in my hopes that it would live up to my fuzzy memories. I thought back to March of 1985, did the math and realized I am the same age now as my mom was then. I was surprised to see that the movie was even better than I remembered. And though it's no longer my favorite, it endures as an affecting cinematic experience. It's true that my enjoyment of the movie is colored by nostalgia, but the same must be so for the legions of folks who adored the film in their youth. It's doubtless that many of those kids now parents themselves will sit their children in front of the TV and play the DVD, and it will enrapture parent and child alike. Adults who first marveled at "The Secret of the Sword" as kids can now enjoy it on multiple levels. The cheap animation effects and stiff dialogue are funny enough to merit a viewing simply for their entertaining cornball factor they certainly don't make 'em like this anymore. But there's also an unmistakable magic in the storytelling and characters. The movie makes it easy to slip back into the mind-set of a 6-year-old, appreciating the action, the subplots and the tenderness on their intended levels. A compilation of five cartoon episodes meant as a bridge between the animated series "He- Man and the Masters of the Universe" (1983-85) and its spin-off, "She-Ra: Princess of Power" (1985-87),the drama is primed by four cliffhangers interspersed at equal intervals throughout the running time. The story follows Prince Adam (voiced by John Erwin),the timid crown prince of Eternia, who uses his Sword of Power to transform into the muscular, sword-wielding hero He-Man. Adam travels through a portal to the realm of Etheria in hopes of finding the owner of a secret sword entrusted to him by his guide, the Sorceress. Once in Etheria, Adam/He-Man discovers a Hordak-oppressed world and joins the Great Rebellion. To his surprise, the sword leads him to Force Captain Adora (Melendy Britt),one of Hordak's stern generals. Adora captures He-Man, placing him in a contraption that sucks his will, to power Hordak's magna beam transporter, which he plans to use to obliterate the Rebellion's hangout. Just as He-Man is about to die, the sword he brought to Adora speaks to her and reveals her true destiny as She-Ra, a champion of good. What's more, she is Adam's twin, separated at birth by a kidnapping Hordak. "I never knew I had a brother, but when a woman in a sword told me so, I knew it was true," She-Ra deadpans. Hordak, as you could imagine, is not at all happy with this development, and he recruits his former pupil, Skeletor, to aid his cause. "The dawn of the new day shall yield the final end of the rebellion!" cackles Hordak, who is nothing if not redundant. Such lines are amusing to an adult but serious to a child and that fact makes it even funnier to an adult. I don't remember my mom laughing at those lines in 1985, though. Maybe because she was in misery as the movie played. Or maybe because she didn't want to break the mood for her little boy.
He-Man and She-Ra: The Secret of the Sword
Action / Adventure / Animation / Comedy / Family / Fantasy / Sci-Fi
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Prince Adam and Cringer travel to Etheria in search of the one who is meant for a special destiny.....One who will gain the power to become She-ra, and who will fight to free Etheria from the Horde's evil grasp.—Cringer
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Better than I rememberred
By Phil Villarreal Arizona Daily Star
Once upon a time, this was a cool cartoon
A hundred million years ago, I thought He-Man was cool, but She-Ra was even cooler. I don't even know why I thought so.. maybe because I also dug Wonder Woman, The Bionic Woman, and Batgirl.. but I digress. When the movie came out, pre-multiplex, kids of all ages rejoiced when Adora 'held aloft her magic sword and said, "For The Honor of Greyskull!" Yeah, that was cool. She-Ra had a more upbeat theme than her brother, He-Man, and quite honestly, her special effects were better too. I coulda done with Cowl, the owl, and "Swift Wind", the lame-ass talking horse, but the rest of it was decent. Bo had a rockin' bod, Castaspella (don't you just love the name?!) could kick Shadow Weaver's butt, and Queen Angella, with her wannabe English accent, defended Castle Bright Moon till the cows came home. Mixing the original He-Man series with She-Ra was done effectively, meaning it was a buyable story-line... and when all was said and done, and Adora, nay She-Ra, realized her true identity, she decided to stay and "defend Etheria against the evil forces of Hordak." Pure cheese, but when you're a kid, who cares?!
In a world far away lives a prince called Adam who can transform into He-man, a fighter for good and justice. One day his friend, the sorceress, sends him and his talking tiger Cringer on a mission to find the owner of a magic sword in a different world, Etheria. But once there, Adam finds the evil army of Hordak is controlling everyone. And he soon meets Adora, who just might be the owner of the magic sword...
Back then, when I was a kid, I was very fond of the "He-man and the masters of the universe" show and it's "sequel" "She-ra". When I grew up I decided to do a little research. You know, to go on a hunt for your childhood memories. Soon I discovered my old "He-man" tapes and watched them again. And this time I was very disappointed. They simply seemed like a cliché with every episode looking the same. After that I saw "She-ra" again too, and although this show was a little better, I still found that it lost a lot of it's magic during my growing up. The only great episode was "Sweet Bee's home".
I then went to watch "The secret of the sword". Before I did that I was in massive fear that this film will too break my heart and that I should maybe avoid it just to keep it a part of my nostalgia. But was I pleasantly surprised! The minute that song "For the honor of love" started to play in the intro all my respect, joy and enthusiasm got back in a flash again. The movie is just simply excellent, the best thing the "He-man" crew ever made. It's much more darker and has a sharp edge, making it superior to the naive TV show's. The best sequence for me was the one where He-man is captured by the evil Horde while Adora can't sleep and wakes up in the middle of the night. She then goes to the chamber where He-man is being held in a special booth. She wants to help him, but also wants to stay loyal to the Horde. Her struggle with herself is a real drama with great emotions. And then, finally, she takes her sword, transforms herself into She-ra and free's He-man. Simply amazing piece of writing that combined her transformation with her change of character.
Truth be told, the story does have flaws. Mostly when it plays back in He-man's world( why in the world would He-man and She-ra just leave Skeletor in Snake mountain after they defeated him?! They could have brought him to jail! )but the film is still a mighty good piece of nostalgia and melancholy. And I'm glad it's quality stayed.