After months of trailers, abysmal reviews and a less then stellar release in IMAX theaters, Marvel’s Inhumans made its television debut last week with a 2 hour airing of the first two episodes. Given the amount of bad press this series has gotten, it was impossible for me not to have read some of the reviews and thoughts on this show before seeing it for myself. But, I promised myself to keep an open mind; maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as critics were saying it was. 2 hours and many eye rolls later, I came to the conclusion that everything I had read was right; this was indeed the weakest entry in the Marvel cinematic/television universe. Warning, spoilers are possible; when I start ranting I just go with it.
Inhumans follows king Black Bolt, queen Medusa and the rest of the Inhuman royal family as they rule over Attilan, a hidden city on Earth’s moon where inhumans live in peace and safety among their own kind. As in the comic books, Black Bolt’s brother, Maximus, stages a coup against the royal family, thinking that he is better suited for the throne to lead the inhumans forward. This leads to the royal family fleeing their home and ending up on Earth, separated from each other and trying to devise a plan to get back home and stop Maximus.
Doesn’t sound bad, right? A monarchy on the run, family betrayal, all with super powered characters? Sign me up! Too bad the execution doesn’t connect with the idea. The biggest problem with Inhumans are the characters and how they are portrayed. Serinda Swan (Medusa) is stiff and wooden, not at all carrying herself as a queen, let alone how Medusa is shown in the comics. Anson Mount (Black Bolt) is pretty much just a guy standing around, as Black Bolt cannot speak unless he wants to destroy all of Attilan with his voice. Which is fine, that is the character, and the use of sign language allows him to communicate through Medusa which is different from the comics, but a nice touch to have him actually do something. The rest of the time, he is just staring at his co-stars or mugging badly for the camera. Seriously, some of his over exaggerated facial expressions had me laughing out load at my tv, so often in fact my dog got tired of hearing me and left the room. Iwan Rheon (Maximus) is the only one who shows any signs of acting. Though his Maximus plays off as a watered down Loki, at least with him we get some hints of emotion and purpose.
Karnak, Gorgon (or Gor-gone, as his name is pronounced in the show and drove me crazy every time!), Triton and Crystal round out the royal family, and I really have no need to go into much depth with them. With the exception of Karnak (Ken Leung) who shows some moments of being an interesting character, the cast really need to work on their delivery. I felt nothing from any of them, and don’t think they were the right choices for their roles. Gorgon is in no way an imposing captain of the royal guard, and the acting shown by Isabelle Cornish (Crystal) did a real disservice to a character I have always liked. But this all really isn’t the actors fault (entirely) but rather of the dialogue and story they are given to work with. Sure, we have a royal coup, but that’s just a plot point; there is no real tone or direction to this story and it just seems to drag along from scene to scene (and believe me, it feels like a long drag).
And WOW, the settings and costumes! Attilan feels cold and sterile, both inside and out. More of an industrial warehouse and less like a kingdom and safe haven for a civilization. The costumes, if we call them that, are underwhelming and cheap looking. I would expect a royal family to look a little more dignified and not be running around in pleather and leggings. The make up isn’t anything spectacular either; we have Triton who’s only defining aquatic characteristic are some subtle gill lines on his neck, but otherwise looks like a melted Gumby with a slight ridge or seam running the length of this head. Would it have been that hard to give him a fin like the books? And Gorgon’s hooves, or what are supposed to be his hooves, look like knee high boots and don’t really look like the impressive legs of his comics counterpart. In fact, that was a problem gnawing at me through the whole show; these Inhumans don’t look, well, inhuman! Yes, I know that not all inhumans have outward transformations, but through all the scenes of the various inhumans on Attilan, and Gorgon and Triton themselves, we don’t see any over the top, strange transformations. I understand this is tv, but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gave us a Lash that matched the comics, and Raina had a huge transformation that was treated well for tv. A little more effort on this would have given Inhumans a more cohesive feel to the source material.
Then there are smaller moments that really just angered me. Karnak is an inhuman who is able to find the flaw in anyone or anything. This ‘power’ was shown in an interesting way that I really liked. But then we have Karnak attempting to climb down a mountain, and falls. He couldn’t see the flaw in his descent and work out a safe way to get to the bottom? Or Black Bolt, when he arrives on earth, is amazed by someone taking pictures on their cell phone, that he snatches it and with a caveman like expression, looks at it like some wonderful new thing. Yet in scenes before this, the royal family have wrist communicators that can bend from wrist watches to mini computers, and video screens that appear in thin air…hard to see why a cell phone would baffle him. But the worst moment for me (spoilers, as warned) is with Medusa. In early trailers, fans everywhere were appalled by how bad Medusa’s hair looked when using her powers. Even in this aired pilot, it isn’t the greatest accomplishment in special effects, but it is better then the trailers. But 30 minutes into the show, Medusa is stripped of her power, a little too easily if you ask me, and left broken on the floor. WELL, I guess that’s how they decided to address that problem! We don’t know how to handle it, so we’ll just get rid of it. I was so close to turning it off at that point.
By now, I’m sure I’ve made my feelings clear on this show’s premiere. Weak writing, stiff acting and cheap looking costumes and effects just make me shake my head and want to ask the higher ups at Marvel what the hell were they thinking to let this air? It certainly did not deserve an IMAX release, and the 2 hour premier just dragged along at a very slow pace. I didn’t come away feeling anything for these characters or the story, other then disappointment. The ONLY bright spot for me was Lockjaw. The computer generated dog had me rooting for him more then the flesh and blood actors did. I must be a glutton for punishment, because I am planning on tuning in next week. Not because I’m on the edge of my seat with anticipation, but to see if there is any chance of this getting better. It’s probably a lot to hope for.
Overall Rating: 3