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.

Star Trek: Picard — Season 3

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Paramount;
Sci-Fi;
$39.99 DVD, $43.99 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars Patrick Stewart, Jeri Ryan, Michelle Hurd, Ed Speleers, Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, Todd Stashwick, Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut, Michael Dorn, Amanda Plummer, Marina Sirtis, LeVar Burton, Brent Spiner, Mica Burton.

This is the season “Star Trek” fans have been waiting decades to see — a return to form for a franchise that hasn’t been operating at its optimum potential for far too long.

The 1990s was a bit of a golden age for “Star Trek.” The decade began with the final adventures of the crew of the original series, and “Star Trek: The Next Generation” becoming one of the most popular shows on television. With Rick Berman taking over primary production duties from franchise creator Gene Roddenberry, who died in 1991, spinoffs such as “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and “Star Trek: Voyager” continued the franchise on television while the “TNG” cast moved onto the big screen.

With the turn of the century, however, the Berman era of the franchise had trouble maintaining its momentum, and prequel series “Enterprise” was canceled just as it was establishing its identity.

J.J. Abrams’ reboot movies briefly sparked some renewed interest in the franchise, but it and later series such as “Star Trek: Discovery” didn’t seem to resonate with longtime fans.

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The third season of “Picard” plays like a mix between an eighth season and a fifth movie for the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” crew, the majority of which were mostly absent from the “Picard” series for its first two seasons as star Patrick Stewart wanted to veer away from the series being a “TNG” retread.

The main change from a creative standpoint is that the season was overseen by executive producer Terry Matalas, a veteran of the later years of the Berman era, providing a link to that classic run that had heretofore been lacking.

The season reunites the cast of “TNG” for a 10-episode arc that connects story threads dating back 30 years from several of the shows and movies. It also brings in a variety of guest stars to wrap up a few more dangling plot threads in a satisfying way that both plays to the strengths of the performers and propels the primary story. Matalas also introduces a few new characters that are memorable and effective in all the ways that most of the characters introduced for the first two seasons were not.

For viewers not keen on sitting through the lackluster first two seasons to get to this one, the third season mostly stands on its own (aside from being primarily a sequel to the Berman era), while still picking up on the most relevant developments from the series’ first 20 episodes (mostly, that the aging Picard transferred his consciousness into a synthetic body, and that an alternate reality offshoot of longtime nemesis The Borg arrived to make peace with the Federation).

The season features a healthy dose of the good kind of nostalgia, building toward a climax that rekindles the feeling of being immersed in peak 1990s “Star Trek” while giving the “TNG” crew the sendoff they never really got before.

This is a story about the dichotomy between experience and youth that works much in the same way that made Top Gun: Maverick so effective, and even parallels that film’s appeal to sentimentality in a way that should leave older fans both excited and misty eyed.

The music also is terrific, a melodic love letter to the thematic history of “Star Trek,” with numerous homages to the works of franchise stalwarts Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner and other composers.

The Blu-ray offers some great extras, but also some baffling choices. The episodes are presented with the “previously on” recaps of previous episodes. And a brief shot of the Enterprise-D at the beginning of the finale episode is an alternate visual effect; a more-elaborate visual effects shot appears on the streaming version. The shot that appears on the disc was used briefly in the streaming version in Europe before being changed to match the U.S. version, which leads one to wonder how it made it to disc if it wasn’t an outright quality control mistake.

Extras on the Blu-ray include some fun audio commentaries on select episodes; a Q&A panel with the cast and production team from an Imax screening of the finale; the insightful “The Making of the Last Generation,” “The Gang’s All Here,” “Rebuilding the Enterprise-D” and “Villainous Vadic” featurettes; some good deleted scenes on a handful of episodes; and a gag reel.

Originally published as a streaming review May 1, 2023.

Doc Series ‘The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek’ Due on DVD April 25 From Mill Creek

Mill Creek Entertainment will release a documentary series on the Academy and Emmy Award-winning TV series “Star Trek” — “The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek” — on DVD April 25. 

Directed by Brian Volk-Weiss (“The Movies That Made Us,” “The Toys That Made Us,” “Behind the Attraction”), “The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek” is an 11-episode series from the Nacelle Company taking viewers on an in-depth journey behind the scenes of one of the greatest landmark franchises of all time — “Star Trek.” 

Honoring the show’s 55th anniversary, the four-disc set features interviews with cast, crew and experts, exploring pivotal moments in the franchise’s history from its inception at Lucille Ball’s production company Desilu to the recent film and television spinoffs. 

Long-time cast member Gates McFadden narrates “Star Trek’s” deep history while actors of the franchise provide insight into their experiences on set, chronicling the rare and fascinating details of how the show began and its journey to becoming one of the most-loved and storied series of all time. 

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The collector’s edition includes more than three-and-a-half hours of never-before-seen-on-TV bonus interviews with “Star Trek” legends Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols and Kirstie Alley talking about their characters and experiences in the franchise.