Sci-fi TV: Disney+ updates and ‘Travelers’ wrap-up

If you haven’t gotten around to subscribing to Disney+ yet, and watching the Star Wars series “The Mandalorian,” what are you waiting for? It’s so cool! Baby Yoda! I mean, um “The Child.” He (she??) is so cute!

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My other favorite character in this series is Cara Dune, a bad-ass mercenary played by Gina Carano. I love that they chose a former mixed martial artist for this part, instead of a skinny supermodel. Carano looks tough because she is tough. She’s also a great actress.

“The Mandalorian” will be back with Season 2 in October. It has also been reported that Disney+ is planning at least two more “Star Wars” spinoffs, with Ewan McGregor in an Obi-Wan Kenobi series, and Diego Luna reprising his role as Cassian Andor, in a “Rogue One” series. I’ll keep you posted when I have premiere dates on those shows.

PRI_80590434Coming to Disney+ this year is “WandaVision.” Remember Scarlet Witch from the “Avengers” movies? Her real name is Wanda Maximoff, and her boyfriend is that red guy – an android named Vision. He was created in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” after Tony and Bruce uploaded J.A.R.V.I.S. into a vibranium body powered by the Mind Stone.

You may remember that Vision died in “Avengers: Infinity War” – twice. So I guess they’ll have to power him back up again for this new series, which will premiere in December. It will be six episodes, to be released weekly. Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany will reprise their roles.

There are more “Avengers” spinoff series in the works as well: “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” will be on Disney+ in August, and there’s also a “Loki” series coming up. Tom Hiddleston will reprise his role (yay!) but we have to wait till 2021 (boo!). Also expected in 2021 are the Marvel series “What If…” and “Hawkeye.”

“Moon Knight,” “She-Hulk,” and “Ms. Marvel” are in development, but dates for those series have not yet been announced.

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‘Travelers’

I finally got around to finishing the series “Travelers,” the Canadian-American sci-fi series that began in 2016. I got sidetracked and didn’t finish seasons 2 and 3 until this month, and I binge-watched it; it’s a very addictive show, and I got caught up in all the time-traveling craziness. There’s so much going on that I could probably watch the entire series all over again and pick up puzzle pieces that I missed the first time around.

“Travelers” requires you to suspend your belief in logic, otherwise you will get a headache trying to make sense of it, but that’s more or less true of every time-travel story. The gist is this: Hundreds of years in the future, humans develop advanced technology and are able to send people’s consciousnesses back to the 21st century – into the bodies of people who are about to die. These “travelers” are given missions that will prevent catastrophic events that make the world worse for its future inhabitants.

Photo: Jeff WeddellI love that there’s a suspenseful, unpredictable story here, but also some really compelling characters. Eric McCormack (from “Will & Grace) is great as the team’s leader, and there is some great acting across the board, with an ensemble cast that includes Jared Abrahamson as an elderly engineer in the body of a high school kid; Reilly Dolman as the team’s historian, whose 21st century body is addicted to heroin; Nesta Cooper, the team’s tactician, who assumes the life of a young mom; and MacKenzie Porter, the team’s medic.

Travelers must continue to live their hosts’ lives whenever they are not on a mission, and it’s just as interesting to see them navigate life in the 21st century as it is to to see them saving the world. I’m bummed that we only got three seasons of this show (and it would have made my best-of-the-decade list if I’d finished it before now), but at least we got an epic and (mostly) satisfying finale. You can watch all three seasons on Netflix.  I’m excited to see what the series’ creator, Brad Wright (who also did the “Stargate” series), does next.

Credits: “The Mandalorian,” Disney Media Distribution; “Avengers: Endgame,” Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; “Travelers,” Netflix.

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Deep space drama of ‘Passengers’ too shallow

This review contains spoilers. 

I was intrigued by the premise of this movie: Two people, on a 120 year long journey in space, are awakened from hibernation 90 years before the ship reaches its destination.

I like Jennifer Lawrence and Star-Lord, er, Chris Pratt, and I had heard it was a great story. I also loved director Morten Tyldum’s thriller “Headhunters” (which stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau from “Game of Thrones”).

While “Passengers” was entertaining, it seemed that something was missing. It didn’t delve deep enough, for one thing. I wanted more.  More what, I don’t know.  It just felt superficial to me.

(If you didn‘t see “Passengers,” don’t read the rest of this review. It contains SPOILERS.)

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One thing that seems off is the part of the film that begins when Gus (Laurence Fishburne) wakes up. Besides the wrench it throws into the point of the movie being that they’re the only two people awake for the next 90 years, the subsequent action seems like it belongs in another movie entirely.

But even more annoying to me is Lawrence’s character, Aurora. Maybe it’s just me, but she seems snobby, like she thinks Jim is beneath her. More than once, she mentions that under ordinary circumstances, she would never end up with him, but she doesn’t say why. He’s adorable and romantic and sweet. What’s not to love?

I found it odd that it took her so long to bother getting to know Jim. Was she so upset about the prospect of being alone that she didn’t notice she wasn’t alone?

And while I can understand her anger at discovering Jim was the one who woke her, she ceases to be a sympathetic character once she attacks him while he’s sleeping. I know some reviewers couldn’t get past the moral problem of what he did, dooming her to a lifetime aboard the ship, but I was more disturbed by Aurora’s violence.

Was waking her from hibernation so unforgivable? He was ALL ALONE IN OUTER SPACE. Who knows what anyone would do in similar circumstances?

Clearly she does forgive him in the end, when she realizes she doesn’t want to be alone on that ship either. We are supposed to believe she really does love him after all, but the line between love and need is blurry.

Then he tells her she can get in the Autodoc and go back into hibernation and she says “No”? What! That’s all she cared about, and now she doesn’t want that anymore? I’m not buying it. At this point, they seem like they’ve fucked each other over too much to live happily ever after.

My other gripe is a minor one: It’s too clean and shiny. I like my sci-fi gritty, and everything in “Passengers” is too perfect – the ship, yes, but also Lawrence. Her outfits look like ads from a futuristic fitness magazine. And would you still bother to do your hair and makeup every day if the only person who is going to see you is that guy you hate? Me neither.

Photos: Columbia Pictures