Anyone But You

BLU-RAY DISC REVIEW:

Sony Pictures;
Comedy;
Box Office $88.14 million;
$22.99 DVD, $38.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for language throughout, sexual content and brief graphic nudity.
Stars Sydney Sweeney, Glen Powell, Alexandra Shipp, Hadley Robinson, GaTa, Michelle Hurd, Bryan Brown, Dermot Mulroney, Rachel Griffiths, Darren Barnet, Charlee Fraser.

The romantic-comedy is a genre so fraught with clichés that it actually takes a little effort now to distinguish them from any run-of-the-mill Hallmark movie. Anyone But You decided to set itself apart with a fair amount of nudity, foul language and raunchy gags.

The story involves the potential pairing of Bea (Sydney Sweeney) and Ben (Glen Powell). They meet cute at a coffee shop and form a connection during an amazing first date, but then go their separate ways after a misunderstanding leaves them thinking the other was just using them. They meet again months later at a destination wedding for some mutual friends, but their constant bickering gives everyone around them the idea to conspire to help them hook up just so they’ll stop fighting. But therein lies the twist, as Ben and Bea realize what everyone is trying to do, so they start pretending to be a couple to get everyone to leave them alone.

As both a rom-com and a comedy of errors the plot unfolds pretty much as one would expect, and it’s a bit of a slog to get through. On the other hand, the film isn’t subtle about employing the ample physical assets of Sweeney and Powell, which should go a long way toward maintaining viewer interest.

The Blu-ray presentation includes a sparse array of bonus materials that run only about 16 minutes combined.

The making of the film is conveyed in two typical behind-the-scenes featurettes that run four minutes each: “He Said She Said,” in which the cast discuss the joys of making a romantic comedy, and “Everyone Down Under,” about shooting the film in Australia. Then there’s a three-minute reel of outtakes and bloopers presented as a retrospective from several cast members.

There are three deleted scenes that run a total of a minute-and-a-half; one is a minute-long dance number and the other two are just a few seconds of character comedy.

Rounding out the extras are two viral marketing ploys. One is a two-minute video of co-stars Alexandra Shipp and Hadley Robinson tasting Australian snack foods. The other is a minute of Sweeney and Powell performing ASMR by whispering filthy pickup lines at each other, which is probably funnier than anything in the actual movie.

 

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.

Star Trek: Picard — Season One

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 10/6/20;
Paramount/CBS;
Sci-Fi;
$39.99 DVD, $47.99 Blu-ray;
Not Rated;
Stars Patrick Stewart, Alison Pill, Isa Briones, Evan Evagora, Michelle Hurd, Santiago Cabrera, Harry Treadway, Peyton List, Tamlyn Tomita, Jonathan Del Arco, Jeri Ryan, Brent Spiner.

Fans of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” eagerly anticipated this sequel series featuring Patrick Stewart’s return to the role of Capt. Jean-Luc Picard nearly two decades after the last time we saw him in action.

That would have been the disappointing 2002 film Star Trek: Nemesis, which ended with the android Data (Brent Spiner) sacrificing himself to save Picard from a deadly superweapon.

The new series picks up 20 years later, in the year 2399, with Picard settling into retirement at age 94 running his family’s winery in France. However, he remains haunted by Data’s death, as well as the Federation’s abandonment of a mission to ferry Romulan refugees to safety when their planet’s home star exploded 10 years prior (an event alluded to in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 movie).

His ennui is interrupted by a request for help from a young girl (Isa Briones) who turns out to be an android made of flesh and blood, fashioned by remnants of Data’s old programming. She’s being hunted by Romulan agents who consider her the portent of an invasion of artificial life forms that will lead to a galactic apocalypse.

For answers, Picard must find the girl’s twin sister, who happens to be working with a task force studying a ship abandoned by the Federation’s deadly enemy, the Borg, in Romulan space. So he assembles a crew of mercenaries to take him there.

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The creators of the show stress that this is very much not a retread of “TNG.” But that doesn’t rule out the occasional reunion here and there. The best episode of the first season’s batch of 10, for instance, involves Picard seeking temporary sanctuary with his old crewmates Riker and Troi (Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis), who now live on a distant planet with their daughter (Lulu Wilson).

In fact, the show is filled with references to the “TNG” era of “Star Trek” in the 1990s, and the Borg subplot provides a nice excuse to bring in Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan), the former Borg from “Star Trek: Voyager.”

Less fortunate are characters who were just guest stars on previous “Trek” shows, as this new series has a nasty habit of having them gruesomely murdered to move the story along.

In addition to the gore, longtime fans might also be surprised by the frequent use of foul language, with Starfleet admirals dropping “F” bombs to a degree never seen on a “Star Trek” show. Remember when “Star Trek” was a family show?

The A.I. storyline ends up going off the rails by the end of the season, which turns out to be a convoluted excuse for eliminating a hanging plot point from “TNG” that didn’t even need to be addressed.

The kinds of fans that “Star Trek” usually attracts will likely fine the show ends up inadvertently raising two questions for every one it thinks it’s answering. The nostalgia is fun for a while, but a few clever references will hardly compensate for other aspects of the franchise the show glaringly ignores. (For specific deviations from established Trek lore, check out the Major Grin YouTube channel.)

The show isn’t covering much new ground in its treatment of androids and A.I., as many of the ideas relating to the nature of artificial existence were previously and better explored in Blade Runner and “Battlestar Galactica.”

In fact, given how the season ends, it almost feels as if the producers were trying to set up a “Star Trek” version of “Firefly.”

Still, the cast is great, and the season manages to squeeze some poignant moments from the legacy characters that fans won’t want to miss.

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The Blu-ray edition of the series offers a nice suite of extras to differentiate it from its streaming presentation on CBS All Access.

Every episode includes a brief behind-the-scenes featurette that runs three to seven minutes. A few episodes also include deleted scenes, though most of these are pretty inconsequential.

The first of three discs includes the “Children of Mars” short that serves as something of a prologue to the series. The disc also includes a 10-minute “Make It So” featurette about the creation of the show.

In addition, the first episode includes a quarantine-recorded picture-in-picture Zoom commentary with producers Alex Kurtzman, Akiva Goldsman, Michael Chabon, Kirsten Beyer and Hanelle M. Culpepper (who also directed the episode).

The third disc includes more making-of featurettes, including the 12-and-a-half-minute “Aliens Alive: The xBs,” about putting the actors into Borg makeup, with a particular focus on Jeri Ryan’s return to her famous role.

“Picard Props” is a 13-minute featurette about the creation of various knick-knacks and weapons used on the show.

“Set Me Up” is a 14-and-a-half-minute featurette about the production design of some of the starship interiors and Picard’s home, showing off a lot of great details.

“The Motley Crew” is a 19-minute featurette about the cast, including some of Briones’ audition footage.

Finally, there’s an eight-minute gag reel, which is pretty great if only for the amount of playful bickering we get to see between longtime friends Stewart and Frakes, who directed a number of the episodes.