July 21, 1969, had the moon landing. Fifty years later, July 21, 2019, had everyone talking about a batch of movies and TV shows that are – with the exception of “Black Widow” – well over a year away. NASA conquered the moon, and now the Marvel Cinematic Universe has conquered the Earth, as the Phase Four announcement at Comic-Con proved. Here are my thoughts on these five movies and five TV shows, along with “Go Bananas” Levels on a 10-point scale:
The grand experiment is over, and it’s a success. The first 22 films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe comprise a saga similar to a TV serial, but with way more characters, way more side journeys and way more money. And most remarkably for a movie series, it has an ending for the initial batch of six Avengers, with “Avengers: Endgame.” We knew all this going into the film, which itself raises one final question: Does it stick the landing? The answer is a qualified yes.
Who will live? Who will die? Who will be resurrected? How will our heroes defeat Thanos? Big questions are on the minds of Marvel Cinematic Universe fans heading into the 22nd outing, “Avengers: Endgame,” which will hit theaters Friday, April 26. It’s not the end of the saga by any means (trailers for July’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home” are already out, so I have a good feeling about Spidey’s fortunes), but it’s definitely the end of an era as some of the original Avengers – such as Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man and Chris Evans’ Captain America – might be calling it quits with this film, one way or another.
After his love letters to jazz — “Whiplash” (2014) and “La La Land” (2016) — a film fan wouldn’t be surprised if director Damien Chazelle’s next movie was about Louis Armstrong. But “First Man” (2018) instead chronicles Neil Armstrong, and while it might seem like the pantheon of historical space-program cinema doesn’t need another recounting of Apollo 11, it turns out this is a very welcome addition.
Looking for a “Valerian” fix after last year’s movie, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” I’m delving into the comics that started it all, by Frenchmen Pierre Christin (writer) and Jean-Claude Mezieres (pencils and inks). Here’s a look at the final volume, an epilogue of sorts that isn’t included in the collected volumes from Cinebook.
Looking for a “Valerian” fix after last year’s movie, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” I’m delving into the comics that started it all, by Frenchmen Pierre Christin (writer) and Jean-Claude Mezieres (pencils and inks). “The Complete Collection, Volume 7” includes the conclusive trilogy: “At the Edge of the Great Void” (2004), “The Order of the Stones” (2007) and “The Time Opener” (2010). It looks like this will be the final collection from Cinebook, but I’ll be back to review to the uncollected coda volume, “Memories from the Futures.”
From the beginning, “Mars” (9 p.m. Eastern Mondays on National Geographic) has aimed to show what humanity’s colonization of the Red Planet will really be like. Season 1, which aired back in 2016, chronicles the travel and settlement in the 2030s. Now Season 2 brings us into the 2040s, after the initial challenges have been conquered.
Looking for a “Valerian” fix after last year’s movie, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” I’m delving into the comics that started it all, by Frenchmen Pierre Christin (writer) and Jean-Claude Mezieres (pencils and inks). “The Complete Collection, Volume 6” includes “Hostages of Ultralum” (1996), “Orphan of the Stars” (1998) and “In Uncertain Times” (2001).
In its final 10 episodes, “Valerian and Laureline: Time Jam” wraps up by riffing heavily on the “Star Wars” prequels, but it stands as its own thing thanks to its trademark bevy of wild ideas – many involving time travel, as the series fully embraces its title. And as had been telegraphed in the sitcom-esque bickering flirtation (or flirtatious bickering?) heading into the closing credits of many episodes, the saga’s final statement is about Valerian’s and Laureline’s relationship … although it’s not exactly what I hoped for.
The “Time Jam: Valerian & Laureline” writers finally give us the cute romantic sequence they had been so obviously holding back from us in the 30th episode, “Get With the Times,” and darn if it isn’t almost tear-jerking. Laureline must stay on a planet and press a button after Valerian takes off in their ship; they can’t both depart.