A Haunting in Venice

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 11/28/23;
20th Century;
Mystery;
Box Office $42.45 million;
$29.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for some strong violence, disturbing images and thematic elements.
Stars Kenneth Branagh, Tina Fey, Kelly Reilly, Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Dornan, Kyle Allen, Jude Hill, Camille Cottin, Ali Khan, Emma Laird, Riccardo Scamarcio.

Director Kenneth Branagh’s third film based on Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot detective stories blends a bit of horror into the proceedings for an effective Halloween-themed mystery.

The sequel to 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express and 2022’s Death on the Nile is loosely based on Christie’s 1969 novel Hallowe’en Party, retaining elements of the basic premise and some of the character names, but relocating the story from England to Italy and reworking much of the plot.  

The film takes place in 1947, 10 years following the events of Nile. Jaded from the events of that film, Poirot (Branagh) has sheltered himself away from the world in Venice, but is coaxed out of retirement by his old friend Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey), an author who is basically a stand-in for Christie herself.

Oliver wants help in exposing as a fraud a psychic named Joyce Reynolds (Michelle Yeoh) who will be conducting a séance at a Halloween party being held at a former orphanage that is rumored to be haunted. The palazzo is now owned by a former opera singer (Kelly Reilly) who has hired Reynolds to contact her daughter, who allegedly committed suicide a year earlier.

After an unnerving sequence of apparent demonic possession, Reynolds begins channeling the daughter’s spirit, claiming she was murdered. With almost everyone in the room on the verge of believing in the supernatural, Poirot vows to uncover Reynolds’ methods. In short order, however, an attempt is made on Poirot’s life, while Reynolds is thrown off a balcony and impaled on a statue.

With a storm preventing the police from arriving until morning, the elements are now in place for a classic murder mystery, as an annoyed Poirot locks everyone inside and vows to solve the case. This in turn rouses the amusement of Ariadne, who is portrayed by Fey as the perfect sassy foil to Poirot’s stuffiness.

As usual, almost everyone involved has a labyrinth of secrets to navigate for Poirot to reach the truth, though his efforts are seemingly complicated by the unsettled spirits of this most creepy of locales.

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The primary extra offered on the Blu-ray and digital versions of A Haunting in Venice is a 26-minute behind-the-scenes featurette that while focusing on the production of the third film also looks back at the first two.

Also included are 11 short but superfluous deleted scenes that run a total of about nine minutes.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 10/1/23;
Paramount;
Sci-Fi;
Box Office $140 million;
$25.99 DVD, $31.99 Blu-ray, $37.99 UHD BD, $44.99 UHD/BD Steelbook;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and language.
Stars Anthony Ramos, Dominique Fishback. Voices of Peter Cullen, Ron Perlman, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Yeoh, Pete Davidson, John DiMaggio, Liza Koshy, David Sobolov, Colman Domingo.

Despite being released in theaters backed by a massive promotional campaign, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts has the feel of one of those direct-to-video sequels studios like to pump out in an effort to extend the life of a well-worn franchise.

That’s not to say the film isn’t competently made or entertaining for what it is, for it’s certainly a serviceable diversion if someone has a couple hours to kill. But Rise of the Beasts definitely feels formulaic in the way it pares down the essence of the Michael Bay “Transformers” films — both in setting up action sequences and introducing new toys Hasbro can sell.

This is the seventh live-action movie based on Hasbro’s “Transformers” toys, and by now it’s pretty clear that the deeper mythology that sustains the various cartoons and comics based on the property is more of a lark for the film versions. In lieu of sustained storylines, the films pick and choose a handful of characters to introduce alongside stalwarts such as Optimus Prime and Bumblebee, who end up teaming up with some unassuming humans to fight a handful of bad guys for some object that usually turns out to be crucial to the survival of the Transformers race.

For Rise of the Beasts, the filmmakers turned to inspiration from the 1990s “Beast Wars” line, which featured robots transforming into wild animals rather than cars and trucks and planes. The Maximals, which are basically a race of animal Autobots (ie the good guys) are being hunted by the minions of the planet-chomping Unicron, who needs something called a “transwarp key” to have access to the entire universe so he can eat anything he wants. In the battle that starts the film, set thousands of years ago, the Maximals escape with the key and hide it on Earth, trapping Unicron in a secluded section of the galaxy. Naturally, Unicron’s hunters find the key on Earth, leaving the Autobots to team with the Maximals to stop them from summoning the planet-killer.

The main action of Rise of the Beasts takes place in 1994, making it a sequel to the 1980s-set Bumblebee, and a prequel to Bay’s five films that seemed to become more bloated and mind-numbing as they went on. In terms of continuity between the films, however, the “Transformers” movies are about as consistent as the “X-Men” films, so trying to connect all the dots is mostly going to be a wasted effort.

The 1990s setting serves mostly as an excuse for director Steven Caple Jr. to indulge in the music and fashion of the period setting. Otherwise, the setting is rather superfluous to the storyline.

The primary humans helping the Autobots are Noah (Anthony Ramos), an unemployed former soldier, and Elena (Dominique Fishback), a museum intern who studies ancient artifacts. After being recruited to the Autobot cause through happenstance, they learn the missing key and the Maximals are in Peru, setting the stage for the final battle to prevent Unicron from destroying Earth. Lessons of teamwork abound, while Prime (voiced once again by Peter Cullen) learns he can trust humans.

Since most of the “Transformers” movies have involved Bumblebee’s friendship with the primary human characters, he gets sidelined this time around while Noah is paired with Mirage, a wisecracking Porsche voiced by Pete Davidson. The basic character dynamics are the same, though.

Fans of the franchise should get a tickle from various easter eggs and sly references, but shouldn’t expect more than surface-level nostalgia from seeing a handful robots that bear the names of characters they grew up with. From a technical standpoint, the visual effects are pretty good, and the film looks great in 4K, particularly when the setting shifts to the luscious green mountains and forest of South America.

Home video extras include more than 73 minutes of behind-the-scenes material spread across nine featurettes. It’s not groundbreaking stuff but it’s interesting to see how some of the visual effects were done.  

Also included are seven deleted and extended scenes running nearly 14 minutes in total, including alternate opening and ending scenes, and extended action sequences with unfinished visual effects.

On disc, both the 4K and Blu-ray discs contain the extras. However, the 4K and Blu-ray versions are offered as standalones with digital copies, not combo packs, except for the limited-edition Steelbook that has both 4K and Blu-ray discs in it.

Disney+ Expanding Original Series ‘American Born Chinese’ Access to Roku, YouTube — and Hulu, ABC

 The Walt Disney Company June 21 announced it would expand distribution of Disney+ original series “American Born Chinese” beyond its proprietary streaming platform to affiliate partners, including ABC, Hulu, Roku, and on YouTube. Disney+ subscribers currently have access to all eight episodes of the first season.

The series, which has a critic score of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes where it was declared one of the best TV and Streaming Shows of 2023, reportedly presents a blend of heartfelt coming-of-age humor and exhilarating martial-arts action.

“American Born Chinese” will be made available on the following schedule:

ABC: Saturday, June 24 at 8 p.m. ET/PT – Episode 1

Hulu: Monday, June 26 – Sunday, July 9 – Episodes 1-3

YouTube: Wednesday, June 21 at 9 a.m. to Sunday, July 23 – Episode 1

Roku: Monday, June 26 – Monday, July 10 – Episodes 1-3 

Based on the graphic novel of the same name by Gene Luen Yang, “American Born Chinese” chronicles the trials and tribulations of a regular American teenager whose life is forever changed when he befriends the son of a mythological god. This is the story of a young man’s battle for his own identity, told through family, comedy, and action-packed Kung-Fu, playing on aesthetics from Chinese folklore, comics and animation.

The series features an all-star international cast, including Academy Award winners Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All at Once), Ben Wang (“Chang Can Dunk”), International Emmy Award Nominee Yeo Yann Yann (“Wet Season”), Chin Han (Mortal Kombat), Daniel Wu (“Reminiscence”), former Taekwondo champion Jimmy Liu and Sydney Taylor (“Just Add Magic”).

Introducing audiences to a pantheon of iconic Chinese mythical characters, are guest stars Academy Award nominee Stephanie Hsu as Shiji Niangniang, the Goddess of Stones; Ronny Chieng as unconventional monk, Ji Gong; Jimmy O. Yang as Dragon King, Ao Guang; James Hong as Jade Emperor; Leonard Wu as Niu Mowang/Bull Demon; and Poppy Liu as Princess Iron Fan. The series also welcomes Lisa Lu as soon-to-be retired acupuncturist Ni Yang and Rosalie Chiang as student activist Suzy Nakamura.

Emmy Award-winning writer/producer Kelvin Yu (“Bob’s Burgers,” “Central Park”) serves as executive producer and showrunner.  Destin Daniel Cretton (Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “Short Term 12”) directs and serves as executive producer, alongside Melvin Mar and Jake Kasdan (both of “Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.,” “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” and “Jumanji: The Next Level”), Erin O’Malley (“Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.”), Asher Goldstein (“Short Term 12,” “Just Mercy”) and Gene Luen Yang.

‘In the Line of Duty I-IV’ Collection Due on Blu-ray May 16 From 88 Films and MVD

88 Films May 16 will release the four-disc deluxe collector’s edition Blu-ray set In the Line of Duty I-IV with new 2K restorations of all four films — Royal Warriors, Yes, Madam!, In the Line of Duty III and In the Line of Duty IV
  
Royal Warriors (1986) stars Academy Award Winner Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once) as Inspector Yip. While returning from a holiday in Japan, she stops the mid-air rescue of a mobster headed to Hong Kong for trial. This seeming heroic act comes to haunt Yip as the mobster’s family sets out for revenge. The Blu-ray features newly translated English subtitles; audio commentary by Hong Kong film expert Frank Djeng; missing airplane inserts; the Cantonese and English trailers; and the English “In the Line of Duty” titles.  
  
In Yes, Madam! (1985,), Michelle Yeoh stars as Inspector Ng, who teams up with Cynthia Rothrock’s tough-as-nails Scottish Investigator Carrie Morris to retrieve microfilm that has unknowingly been stolen by two low-level thieves. The Blu-ray features both the Hong Kong Cut and export version with the classic English dub; audio commentary by Frank Djeng (Hong Kong version); select scene commentary with Cynthia Rothrock and Frank Djeng; interviews with Cynthia Rothrock, Men Hoi and Michelle Yeoh; the “Archive Battling Babes” featurette; and the Hong Kong trailer. 
  
In the Line of Duty III (1988) stars Cynthia Khan as Detective Rachel Yeung, who’s tracking down a pair of terrorists who, after a bloody Tokyo heist, have fled to Hong Kong. The Blu-ray features audio commentary by Frank Djeng and Michael Worth; an interview with John Sham by Frederic Ambroisine; Hong Kong and English trailers; and English credits. 
  
In the Line of Duty IV (1989) stars Cynthia Kahn as Detective Yeung, who’s hot on the trail of a drug dealer, with the help of Inspectors Yan (Donnie Yen) and Inspector Wong (Michael Wong). The Blu-ray features both the Hong Kong cut and export version with the classic English Dub; audio commentary with Frank Djeng and F.J. DeSanto (Hong Kong cut); an Interview with Donnie Yen; and Hong Kong and English trailers.   

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The box set includes new artwork by Sean Longmore; reversible sleeves featuring original artwork; a double-sided foldout poster; and a 100-page book by Matthew Edwards featuring interviews with Shan Tam, Michael Parker, Stephan Berwick and Michael Woods, plus archive stills, production imagery, posters and more.

Due April 25 from MVD and 88 Films — and also starring Michelle Yeoh, this time paired with Jackie Chan — is Police Woman 3: Supercop on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Disc. In the film, to infiltrate a drug cartel, police Inspector Chan Ka Kui (Jackie Chan, Rush Hour, Rumble in the Bronx) goes undercover in a Chinese prison. There, he earns the trust of Panther (Yuen Wah, Kung Fu Hustle), a cartel member, by breaking him out of prison. With the help of another undercover agent (Yeoh), they travel to Hong Kong and join up with Panther’s gang. Ka Kui is accepted by the gang’s leader (Ken Tsang), but his operation is jeopardized when Ka Kui’s girlfriend (Maggie Cheung, Hero) accidentally reveals his true identity.

‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ Dominates Oscars With 7 Wins, Including Best Picture

The hyperkinetic multiverse actioner Everything Everywhere All at Once completed a surprising awards-season campaign with a Best Picture trophy at the 95th Academy Awards Sunday, March 12.

The unconventional film from indie distributor A24 ended up winning seven trophies from its 11 nominations. A good night was portended early for the film when it won both the supporting performance awards, with Ke Huy Quan winning Best Supporting Actor and Jamie Lee Curtis taking Best Supporting Actress. The film also won Best Actress for Michelle Yeoh, for Best Film Editing, and both Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for the filmmaking team of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. The film has been available through retail channels since July from Lionsgate, and can be streamed on Paramount+.

The German film All Quiet on the Western Front, a new adaptation of the World War I novel of the same name, won four Oscars, for Best International Feature Film, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design and Best Original Score for Volker Bertelmann. It is available for streaming on Netflix, and arrives on Blu-ray and 4K March 28 from MPI.

A24’s The Whale won two trophies, Best Actor for Brendan Fraser, and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. The film is available now through digital retailers, and arrives on Blu-ray Disc and DVD March 14 from Lionsgate.

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, which is streaming on Netflix, won Best Animated Feature.

Best Documentary Feature went to Navalny, about imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The film is streaming on HBO Max.

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Best Adapted Screenplay went to Sarah Polley for Orion Pictures’ Women Talking, based on the novel of the same name by Miriam Toews. The film is available digitally from MGM, and on Blu-ray and DVD from Universal Pictures.

Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick, which has been credited of late with helping restore the theatrical exhibition of films with its huge box office take, took home just one trophy from its six nominations, for Best Sound. It is available on Blu-ray, DVD, 4K Ultra HD Disc, digital sellthrough, VOD and for streaming on Paramount+.

Disney-owned Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever won Best Costume Design for costume designer Ruth E. Carter, which she also won for the first Black Panther from 2018. The film is available on disc and digital, and for streaming on Disney+.

Director James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water, from Disney-owned 20th Century Studios, won for Best Visual Effects, a category also won by the 2009 original Avatar. The sequel will be available for digital purchase March 28.

Best Song went to “Naatu Naatu” from the Indian film RRR, which is streaming on Netflix.

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In the short-form categories, Best Live-Action Short went to An Irish Goodbye, Best Documentary Short Film went to The Elephant Whisperers, and Best Animated Short Film went to The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, which can be viewed on Apple TV+.

The ceremony also included 100th anniversary tributes to the Warner Bros. and Disney studios, the latter including a preview for the upcoming live-action The Little Mermaid remake due in theaters May 26.

Michelle Yeoh Actioner ‘Magnificent Warriors’ Due on Blu-ray Feb. 21 From 88 Films and MVD

The 1987 Michelle Yeoh action film Magnificent Warriors is being released on Blu-ray Disc Feb. 21 from 88 Films and MVD Entertainment Group.

International star, 2023 Best Actress Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once) stars in this adventure set against the backdrop of World War II. Yeoh portrays a wisecracking mercenary pilot with a leather jacket, gun and bullwhip who sets aside personal greed to defend a small town and free its leader from the clutches of the invading Japanese army. In the finale, the town, armed only with spears and stones, rises up against the heavily fortified Japanese forces.

Yeoh’s martial arts prowess, comedic flair, and dramatic skills are brought to bear in this follow-up to the classic Royal Warriors.

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The release features dubbed and subtitled soundtracks; a new 2K restoration from the original camera negatives; audio commentary with Asian cinema expert Frank Djeng; an interview with Yeoh; and an interview with Tung Wai.

‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ Headed to Disc July 5

The multi-universe action-adventure Everything Everywhere All at Once arrives on 4K Ultra HD (plus Blu-ray plus digital), Blu-ray (plus digital) and DVD July 5 from A24 and Lionsgate.

Directed and written by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, the writing-directing duo collectively known as the Daniels (Swiss Army Man), the film stars Michelle Yeoh as an unlikely hero who must channel newfound powers to fight fearsome dangers from the multiverse. Evelyn Wang (Yeoh), a flustered immigrant mother, is contacted from a parallel universe and told that only she can save the world. The unlikely hero must learn to channel her newfound powers and fight through the splintering timelines of the multiverse to save her home, her family and herself.

The film also stars Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., James Hong and Jamie Lee Curtis.

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Special features include audio commentary with Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert; the “Almost Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Everything Everywhere All at Once” featurette; the “Putting Everything on a Bagel: Cooking up the Multiverse” featurette; deleted scenes with optional audio commentary; outtakes; a music visual; and the theatrical trailer.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Disney/Marvel;
Action;
Box Office $224.54 million;
$29.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $43.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences o violence and action, and language.
Stars Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Tony Leung, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Michelle Yeoh, Florian Munteanu, Andy Le, Ben Kingsley, Benedict Wong.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, a sweeping fantasy epic with bold action and breathtaking visual flair.

For some perspective, the film centers on a character whose primary comic book was called Master of Kung Fu and was created to cash in on the martial arts movie craze of the 1970s. As the particulars of his origin and portrayal would be seen as highly problematic today, Shang-Chi’s backstory has been modified to better fit within the MCU, bringing together a few story threads introduced in earlier films to shine a light on a new corner of the franchise.

In the film, Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) is the son of Xu Wenwu (Leung), leader of a global criminal empire called the Ten Rings, an organization that appeared in 2008’s Iron Man, the very first MCU movie (Shang-Chi is the 25th).

Wenwu has survived for centuries thanks to 10 mysterious bracelets that imbue him with great power and aided him in building his fortune. In his journeys he learns of a mythical land called Ta Lo that supposedly houses magical beasts. In attempting to enter the village, he is bested in combat by its guardian, Ying Li (Fala Chen), and falls in love with her.

Years later, following his mother’s death, Shang-Li has turned his back on his father’s criminal ambitions and is living in San Francisco, where he goes by the name Shaun and tries to live a normal life with his best friend, Katy (Awkwafina). Those efforts are shattered when he and his sister, Xialing (Meng’er Zhang), are attacked by his father’s thugs and summoned back to the Ten Rings. Wenwu believes their mother’s soul is trapped in Ta Lo, and he wants their help accessing the village so he can save her.

The film also serves as a sequel of sorts to Iron Man 3 and the short film All Hail the King in continuing the story of Ben Kingsley’s Trevor Slattery character, the actor who posed as the terrorist leader The Mandarin and in doing so inadvertently appropriated Wenwu’s identity. Kingsley is a great source of comic relief and a welcome addition to the festivities.

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The Blu-ray includes a nice audio commentary with director Director Destin Daniel Cretton and writer Dave Callaham, who discuss developing and making the film. There are also two featurettes, the nine-minute “Building a Legacy” about the making of the film, and the seven-and-a-half-minute “Family Ties” about the characters and their role in the MCU.

The disc also includes 15 minutes of interesting deleted scenes, including an explicit tie-in to the original Iron Man movie, plus some additional moments of character depth.

Rounding out the package is a two-minute gag reel.

In the combo pack that includes both the regular and 4K Blu-rays, there are no extras on the 4K disc.

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Rom-Com ‘Last Christmas’ Home Release Announced by Universal

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment will release the romantic-comedy Last Christmas through digital retailers Jan. 21, and on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Feb. 4.

The film stars Emilia Clarke (“Game of Thrones”) as Kate, who works as an elf at a year-round holiday shop and faces an endless streak of bad luck and poor decision-making until she meets Tom (Henry Golding), a kind-hearted man with a mysterious past who challenges her cynical world view. The cast also includes Michelle Yeoh and Emma Thompson.

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Directed by Paul Feig, and co-written by Thompson and Greg Wise, the film earned $35 million at the domestic box office. The film features the music of George Michael, including a never-before-heard track.

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Home video extras include an alternate opening and ending; deleted scenes; a blooper reel; a Feig solo commentary; a commentary with Feig and Thompson; a full performance of George Michael’s “Last Christmas”; and several featurettes:

  • “Director in Vision” — Feig offers directorial tips and fashion advice;
  • “It’s All So Cold” — how Clarke and Golding’s stayed warm while filming in chilly London;
  • “Try Not to Laugh” — Clarke and Thompson come down with a severe case of the giggles;
  • “A Legacy Revealed” — how the song “Last Christmas” was developed into a film;
  • “Pure Golding” — A profile of Henry Golding;
  • “Emilia Recording Session” — a recording session with Emilia Clarke;
  • “Love Letter to London” — Feig and some of the cast explore London;
  • “Santa and Her Elf” — a behind the scenes look at the quirky relationship between Kate and “Santa” (Michelle Yeoh);
  • “12 Days of Production” — a chronicle of the production;
  • “Paul Feig Takes Over the Tram” – Before Feig became a director he was a Universal Studios tram tour guide in 1981. Hop on the tram and experience part of the tour as Paul takes over the ride.

 

Star Trek: Discovery — Season One

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Paramount/CBS;
Sci-Fi;
$41.99 DVD, $50.99 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Shazad Latif, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman, Jason Isaacs, Wilson Cruz, Michelle Yeoh, Mary Chieffo, James Frain.

“Star Trek: Discovery,” the sixth live-action series to carry on the “Star Trek” legacy, in many ways seems like an attempt to reinterpret the classic elements of the iconic science-fiction franchise to fit them into the modern age of television. Values such as exploration, diversity and tolerance that have been hallmarks of the franchise since the original series debuted in 1966 are all foundational underpinnings of this new show as well.

And yet, in its modernization, the show has trouble meshing with the aesthetic and historic trappings of the franchise familiar to its most dedicated fans. Not the least of these issues is the setting of the show 10 years before the original series, yet presenting ships and technologies that seem far more advanced than what has previously been established about that era in the franchise’s timeline, not to mention the drastic alterations to uniforms and aliens.

This likely owes a lot to the “modernization” aspect. Previous incarnations of “Star Trek” always felt a bit quaint and old-fashioned, as the various shows had to dance around a canon rooted in the 1960s’ vision of the future (especially tricky once the actual timeline no longer matched what was predicted in the original series). “Enterprise” had the biggest challenge in that regard, as a prequel set 100 years before the days of Kirk and Spock, in that it had to present technology that looked advanced to a 21st century audience without accentuating how much the original series looked out of date.

Certainly, the big-budget flagship show for the new CBS All Access streaming service shouldn’t be expected to constrain itself along the same lines if it had any intentions of competing in the ever-growing marketplace of content.

The producers of “Discovery” seem to have taken a looser approach to franchise consistency, keeping the general idea of things intact while designing a prequel to a hypothetical version of the original series had it been created using today’s visual effects. It would almost seem more at home with the look and feel of J.J. Abrams’ film reboots if it didn’t quite align with what’s established in that timeline, either.

So, what we have is a generally interesting sci-fi show that wants to appeal to fans’ sense of “Star Trek” history without fully connecting those nostalgic punches. It’s probably better to think of it as its own thing, as a part of an alternate “Trek” where it more or less lines up with its own versions of all the hundreds of episodes of established continuity that came before.

And, really, it’s not like it’s too far outside the lines to really line up with canon, anyway. If we’re being completely honest, the first five series weren’t exactly flush with storytelling consistency either, and even the original series was known to contradict itself several times when it came to the future history of Starfleet and the Federation. The point being: just go with it.

A couple of the biggest points of departure “Discovery” makes from traditional “Trek” storylines are the emphasis on a serialized format, and a shift in focus from an ensemble crew to a central protagonist with supporting characters. While previous “Trek” shows dabbled in serialization, most notably the later years of both “Deep Space Nine” and “Enterprise,” the latter point is perhaps the biggest break from the formula, in that the main character is not in command of the show’s title vessel, as was the case in all previous “Trek” shows.

Even more interesting is that the U.S.S. Discovery isn’t even introduced until the third episode. The initial episodes introduce us to Lt. Cmdr. Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), first officer of the U.S.S. Shenzhou, which finds itself at the center of a war with the Klingons when Burnham disobeys an order.

Months later, stripped of her rank and en route to prison, Burnham is recruited by Discovery’s Capt. Lorca (Jason Isaacs), who needs her expertise with an experimental engine that could turn the tide of the war. Burnham’s chance at redemption then becomes a unifying thread for the various plotlines that twist and turn through the first season’s 15 episodes.

And that experimental engine is what really takes the show into some realms that seem better suited for a general sci-fi show and not “Trek” in particular. But hey, once again, just go with it.

The four-disc Blu-ray includes a handful of deleted and extended scenes, including one that was previously released online as it seems to point toward a plot thread in the upcoming second season. The deleted scenes are connected to the episodes they were cut from and accessible through the relevant menus on those particular discs. There are also promos for almost every episode and a trailer for the entire season.

There are also more than two hours of behind-the-scenes featurettes spread across the first three discs. These are typically 10-15 minutes each and focus on different aspects of the production, such as the writing, sound effects, production design, props, costumes and visual effects. While most are available in the discs’ special features sections, one on disc three is available through an episode menu as it deals specifically with the creation of the food for an elaborate dining scene in that episode.

These featurettes all speak very well of the hard work, craftsmanship and detail that is poured into creating the series (even as some of the producers might make a pronouncement about “Trek” history that could raise the ire of hardcore fans).

Finally, the fourth disc includes a 40-minute filmmaker retrospective about the season’s story arcs, recapping the adventures and plot twists encountered episode-by-episode.

Not included are any of the episodes of “After Trek,” an hour-long panel discussion released with each episode. You’ll have to stick with CBS All Access to see those.