Let me start off by saying that I had lowered expectations for this production going in. I’m sure that had a profound impact on the way I enjoyed it. It also doesn’t hurt that I’m a fan of superhero movies/tv shows. Having said that I did enjoy the Inhumans “movie,” despite the fact that I will be the first to admit that it’s not perfect AND that it’s not for everyone. All the negative press and buzz aside, I think that if you plan on watching Inhumans you really have to consider a couple of things in order to really get the most out of it.
The main thing that people need to realize about Inhumans is that it’s not meant to be watched as if it were any other MCU movie. This wasn’t made by the same studio (Marvel Studios) that produced all the other MCU movies. Instead it was created by “Marvel Television” which oversees the production of most of Marvel’s recent made-for-television shows and productions. These include Agents of SHIELD, Agent Carter, Slingshot, and all the Netflix shows. With that said, Inhumans is NOT a movie. Instead it was produced as an 8 episode long mini series. Marvel went with an experimental way of broadcasting the series by combining the first two episodes and showing that in theaters, with the rest of the series scheduled to begin broadcasting later this month on ABC.
So that’s really the first thing you have to come to terms with: even though this was shot with IMAX theaters in mind, it does still work under a television budget. Don’t expect to see summer blockbuster levels of production quality here. That’s not to say that this “movie” is completely bad, it’s just that the budget becomes evident during certain parts and certain aspects of the overall show. With all of this being said here is “The Good,” “The Bad,” and “The Interesting.”
– Visual quality: This may not be a big shocker, but it’s still worth mentioning. Being produced with IMAX in mind served Inhumans well. The overall “movie” looked very crisp and with a higher quality than what you would expect from your typical television show. Some of the shots were also very well done, with good use of angles and showcasing the IMAX quality during some slow motion scenes.
– Black Bolt: Trash the rest of the show all you want, but I will NOT let anybody tell me that Anson Mount didn’t give a great performance as Black Bolt. Portraying a mute character (or rather a character who refuses to talk) isn’t easy. However Mount did this exceptionally well. Little things like his facial expressions and the way that he communicated using only his hands went a long way towards making this one of the most interesting characters that Marvel has put to screen: television OR film. He admittedly started off a bit uninteresting, but the more he appeared on-screen the more I fell in love with his performance. Definitely one of the highlights of the entire series!
– Maximus: I’ve heard people describe him as “Loki-lite,” and while I agree somewhat, is that really such a bad thing? I would argue that Maximus is closer to Magneto from the X-Men than he is with the god of mischief. His motivation is one that I actually caught myself understanding and sympathizing with the more I heard from him. I think it’s interesting that his entire motivation lies in the fact that he’s been ostracized from the rest of the royal Inhumans simply because he didn’t receive any powers. Not only that, but he essentially wants to improve the lives of rest of the Inhumans by going to Earth. While doing so in a diabolical way, he’s doing this for the betterment of his people. Again, much like Magneto with mutants. Definitely want to see more of him!
– Attilan: This is going to be a controversial one, seeing as how people complained about the sets and the look of Attilan during previews and photos, but I actually grew to like the overall look of the Inhumans’ home city. While it’s nowhere near the elegance and epic scale of Asgard, the city of Attilan certainly has a feel and look all its own. The look is certainly simpler and goes for a more minimal approach in certain respects which may turn some people off. However, I found myself liking it the more I saw. Again, given that this is a television production with a limited budget, what they were able to do is certainly commendable!
– (Some) of the special effects: This is by NO means indicative of ALL the special effects. I would like to point out some of my personal highlights. These include Black Bolt’s hypersonic voice during the few scenes that had it, including the scene where he destroyed the police cars (which was AWESOME). Karnak’s ability to detect the faults in things was also very well done. It’s hard to describe in words but trust me, it’s very cool! And finally the last big highlight was Lockjaw’s teleporting ability which I thought was very well done!
– The other special effects: Medusa’s hair, while cool in some very select scenes, just looked… off. I honestly don’t know how much better they could have done but I still feel compelled to say that it wasn’t a convincing enough attempt. There are some other small instances here and there where you’re reminded of the budget, but I think the biggest casualty had to be Lockjaw. It was always going to be something that would prove difficult to pull off on a television budget; a character composed completely in CGI is always tricky on the small screen. However, with other shows proving that it can be done (Flash, Game of Thrones, etc) it’s difficult not to call this one below average. Basically, you can tell that Lockjaw is CGI, and I never really felt like he was “there” whenever he appeared.
– Some of the acting: I get that this is a television series and they couldn’t exactly get top level actors, but some of the acting just came off extremely wooden and unconvincing. I’m usually not a stickler for acting and I can let them get away with certain things as long as I can follow along with the story, but there were a few instances where it was painfully obvious that the actors were not to the level of other television or movie productions. None was more painful to watch than the girl in the opening scene who was being chased by anti-Inhuman militias. Her reactions and line delivery were INCREDIBLY amateurish and I almost had to cover my face at how embarrassed I was. Not being an actor myself, I usually don’t try to judge at how other people do their job, but in this instance I can say I could have done a better job at acting shocked and afraid. This one scene brought down the rest of the movie for me.
– Where are the superpowers?: I’ll play my own devil’s advocate here and say that this was probably more because I only saw the first two episodes (with presumably more action to come later), but I really wanted to see more action and especially more in the way of super powers. People watch superhero movies/television shows to see super powers, so when you don’t get that it leaves a lot to be desired. Inhumans DID showcase a glimpse at each of the main characters’ power but it still felt like it wasn’t enough. Again, this may be another sign of the budget constraints (have you sensed a pattern yet?) but if this was an attempt to get people hooked on the rest of the series I think they should have done more to get us excited.
– Success or Failure: Obviously the biggest question of all is going to be whether or not Inhumans can gather enough interest for Marvel to consider this a success. Given how some of the reviews have been (about a week now since it debuted) chances are this is going to be a bust, and a rather big one given how successful Marvel has been up to this point with their live action adaptations. Quite frankly, I don’t think a lot people will end up watching this. Even with it being shown on free television (depending on your definition of “free”) I find it hard to see people giving this production their attention. Negative buzz, or sometimes lack of buzz, can have a profound impact on the success of any production. Just look at the recent Fantastic Four movie as the prime example. If people are already calling this a failure having only seen two episodes, it’s likely that they’re not going to continue watching. If this is the case it’s going to be interesting to see how Marvel tries to salvage this franchise. Maybe they’ll scrap it altogether and pretend that it never happened in their Marvel Cinematic Universe. Which wouldn’t be completely out of the question seeing as how some people have complained at the lack of connection between the films and television shows. Maybe down the road we’ll get a “proper” Inhumans movie that has nothing to do with this version. Only time will tell!
So will you be watching Inhumans on ABC? Me? I’ll give it a chance. To be honest since my expectations were already low I wouldn’t mind seeing what else they have to offer. The other positive about this is that it’s only 10 episodes long. So if it does end up being absolutely terrible, it’ll be gone rather quickly!