MARVEL’S INHUMANS IMAX (EPISODES 1 & 2: “THE FIRST CHAPTER”)

PrintE-mail Written by Ryan Pollard

Back in 2014, head-honcho of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige announced a movie version of the Inhumans as part of their 'Phase 3' slate of movies set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, written by Joe Robert Cole, and scheduled for release in 2019. However, Marvel Entertainment's TV division scuppered Feige's plans by introducing the Inhumans the following month during the second season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and as a result, the film was scrapped altogether. But, hope was not lost as Marvel announced a TV show version that would consist of eight episodes with the first two presented in IMAX cinemas for a week and shown a month before its scheduled broadcast date, and because of this news, fans rejoiced worldwide. Then, *Gasp!*, they announced that Scott Buck, the man who botched up Dexter's sixth and final seasons and Marvel's Iron Fist earlier this year, would be the showrunner, as well as the main writer and script editor. Fans began to recoil in fear, which became more apparent when the first official image and trailer emerged, but even then everyone (including this writer) were still hoping for the best. Did that happen? Unfortunately, no as Marvel's Inhumans goes down as the worst thing Marvel has put out yet on film and TV. 

The Inhumans are all about a secret civilisation of super powered individuals that inhabit the world of Attilan, a hidden city on the moon, and leading them are the Royal Family of Black Bolt, Medusa, and their most trusted allies of Crystal, Karnak and Gorgon. However, Black Bolt's treacherous brother, Maximus, usurps him and forces the Family to flee for Earth. In the comics, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created a strange, imaginative and creative story that felt like a unique blend of sci-fi and fantasy that was different from all the other heroes that inhabited the Marvel universe and was special in its own right, and filled with larger-than-life characters. All of those traits are absent in this show; it feels unimaginative, lazy, inept, badly put together, downright nonsensical from one scene to the next, and just an absolute slog to get through. When we saw this at our local IMAX cinema, we were fortunate to be shown the trailers for both Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther, and from what we saw, everything about the production design from the costumes, makeup and world building looked breathtaking and captured the worlds that Lee and Kirby created. Here, the costumes and makeup look like something out of an amateur theatre company, the effects are lacklustre (though, to be fair, Lockjaw was done adequately well), and the set design looked and felt bland, generic and lacked creativity or vibrancy. 

It certainly doesn't help when the dialogue is incredibly clunky, feeling more like a very early first draft that was quickly cobbled together, lacking any of the sharpness or wit from Marvel's other films and TV shows, and Buck fails to inject any life or personality into any of these characters. Plus, Buck makes some questionable decisions that are incredibly stupid and is almost disrespectful to the characters and mythology of the Inhumans. When you get to point where you feel like the best way to do the Inhumans is to take these characters away from the Moon, trap them within Hawaii, and cut off Medusa's hair for presumably budgetary reasons, then why bother doing the Inhumans at all to begin with! The IMAX presentation ends up being more of a disservice than an advantage since all that is there to show off how beautiful Hawaii is, rather than heighten key dramatic sequences, and both the directing and editing are poorly handled.

Finally, you can't help but feel sorry for the actors involved because this makes them look dumb, which is sad since some do better than others. Anson Mount nailed Black Bolt, capturing his regal nature and conveying emotion even when he can't say anything, while Ken Leung gives a solid performance as the analytical Karnak. Iwan Rheon tries his best with the material that's given to him, but he ends up coming across as Loki-lite, and even though Medusa is arguably the most iconic character that required an actress to bring that character to life, Serinda Swan came across as merely passable with some of her dramatic scenes being very cringeworthy. The two weakest links were both Eme Ikwuakor as Gorgon and Isabelle Cornish as Crystal, but to be fair, all of these actors could be very talented, and with the right material, they could very well give the best performances possible, but it's the stuff they have to do and say here that stinks to high heaven.

Just like with Marvel's Iron Fist, Inhumans is completely misguided in terms of approach and execution, and after two strikes in a row with Marvel, Scott Buck should just stay far away other Marvel properties in the future. It is baffling as to why this has ended up so cheaply put together as it is; did they just not put in the effort? Were they rushed? We don't know, but what's here is beyond disappointing. This fails to capture the weird, surreal, fun complexity of the original source material, and furthermore, this is what any superhero property shouldn't be: boring.

MARVEL’S INHUMANS IMAX (EPISODES 1 & 2: “THE FIRST CHAPTER”) / CERT: 12A / DIRECTOR: ROEL REINÉ / SCREENPLAY: SCOTT BUCK / STARRING: ANSON MOUNT, SERINDA SWAN, KEN LEUNG, EME IKWUAKOR, ISABELLE CORNISH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (IMAX); 29TH SEPTEMBER (US ON ABC); UK TV START DATE TBC



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