Whenever something new comes out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the majority of fans are ready to welcome it with open arms whether it be a new movie, short film, tie-in comic, or TV show. However, despite Marvel forging an unprecedented partnership with IMAX to create this series, True Believers seemed less than enthusiastic about ‘Inhumans‘. It all started with the less-than-stellar first trailer that featured some questionable CGI that was apparently unfinished. Then, reports emerged about the House of Ideas hiring filmmaker Roel Reiné to direct the two-part premiere of the eight-part limited series because of his ability to work quickly and cheaply while still presenting a somewhat big budget quality movie. And when the theatrical release of showrunner Scott Buck’s second MCU series was shortened to only one week and Rotten Tomatoes embarrassingly showed a 0% from critics and a 54% from the audience after their Labor Day weekend debut, it was almost as if the final nail had been hammered into the coffin of Black Bolt, Medusa, Maximus, and the rest of the Inhuman Royal Family. But after venturing out to the theater to check out this seeming disaster ahead of its network television debut, this reviewer walked out feeling like it actually wasn’t that bad.
Based on the characters created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee for their ‘Fantastic Four’ comic series and somewhat picking up on a few things introduced on ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’, the next Marvel Television offering heading to ABC follows the Royal Family of Inhumans from a city in the blue area of the moon known as Attilan as they are splintered by a military coup before getting scattered around the Hawaiian Islands in an attempt to escape with their lives. Now, the family is eager to reunite and return to their home before their way of life is destroyed forever.
Just to be clear, while it may not have been bad, ‘Inhumans’ still wasn’t great. Many little things felt very off. For instance, after showing off Karnak’s gift that includes planning out every step and preparing for every outcome earlier on in the presentation, it was very weird when he didn’t really utilize that skill to the best of his ability while on Earth and ended up in a precarious position. He should have seen trouble coming and been prepared for what came next. That’s literally what he does as a character. Also, with Medusa’s hair being such a powerful weapon in combat, the altercation with the rebel forces should have gone on much longer before she could be subdued. It went by so quickly that it was almost too convenient. This seemed to be a recurring problem as there was more than one occasion where the Inhuman powers could have been handled better, but I guess if the production was trying to save money wherever they can, it’s unsurprising that cutting unnecessary CGI costs was their way of doing it.
With that said, the GCI that was present throughout ‘Inhumans’ was much better than anticipated. Based on the first trailer, everything (especially Medusa’s hair) looked really cartoony except for maybe Lockjaw’s transportation powers. Although, upon viewing the finished product, the wig worn by Serinda Swan to bring the Inhuman Queen to life seemed as normal as anything else in this super-powered culture living on the moon. Also, as seen in recent clips to promote the show, it’s not really a major concern for very long. But I mean, as far as network television special effects go, ‘Inhumans’ was definitely better than fellow ABC shows ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ and ‘Once Upon A Time’ for the most part.
Continuing on with some other technical aspects of this new series, ‘Inhumans’ featured some extremely beautiful shots of both Hawaii and the moon that took full advantage of the IMAX cameras that they had at their disposal. Sure, it’s pretty hard to make Oahu look bad, but the picturesque tracking shots of the island certainly didn’t hurt. Even when Triton was running for his life, it was hard not to look around and notice how gorgeous everything around him was. The same can be said for the shots that gave us a glimpse at the city of Attilan.
But don’t let all this talk of technical elements give you the wrong idea about the cast. Everyone really fits into their role very well. Anson Mount is very regal as King Black Bolt and you can tell that he put a lot of effort into creating his character’s way of communicating. At first glance, Karnak is similar to Dave Bautista’s Drax from ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ when it comes to a no-nonsense, straight-forward way of talking, but Ken Leung manages to make it feel different and even funny in its own way. However, the real standout so far is Iwan Rheon as Maximus, Black Bolt’s brother who received no special gifts from Terrigenisis and has a strong desire to sit on the throne and bring his people to Earth. ‘Game of Thrones’ fans already know how solid Rheon’s work is. He has a real talent for playing bastards. But in this case, Maximus isn’t really as crazy as Ramsay Bolton. While there may be similarities between them, Maximus uses his charisma to make people like him whereas Ramsay used fear. It’s pretty incredible to see the actor have such range as each role he choses stands out in a completely different way from the one that came before it. Also, while many people tend to criticize the villains of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Maximus seems to be a real villain with depth and legitimate motivation. We probably shouldn’t go so far as to compare him to Kingpin, the Purple Man, or Loki just yet, but there’s definitely a lot of potential for Maximus to become a memorable antagonist.
And that’s really what we’re trying to say here in this review: ‘Inhumans’ has a ton of potential. Would all True Believers be happy if they had to pay $15 or more to see the first two episodes in IMAX? Probably not. It definitely adds a bit to the experience, especially when it comes to some of the amazing establishing shots throughout the episodes, but most will likely be content with DVRing the show while they’re out on Friday nights this fall and catching it later in the weekend. Is it going to be the best superhero show on TV? Again, probably not. Although it’s surely better than any mindless reality show or another repetitive competition series, it all really depends where the story goes from here because there’s so much potential for some intriguing storylines and kick-ass action.
Scott Buck doesn’t exactly inspire much faith after what he did to ‘Iron Fist’. But if we consider Danny Rand’s Netflix series to be the ‘Iron Man 2’ of the MCU’s TV side, then ‘Inhumans’ could totally be the ‘Thor: The Dark World’ since there’s a chance that it might be slightly better than the worst offering so far despite still having kinks. And even that movie was made better by the villainous Loki, so why wouldn’t we give Iwan Rheon’s Maximus a chance as well. Obviously, we could be singing a very different tune by the end of these eight episodes, but for now, let’s just give ‘Inhumans’ a chance.
‘Inhumans’ starring Anson Mount, Serinda Swan, Ken Leung, Eme Ikwuakor, Isabelle Cornish, Ellen Woglom, Mike Moh, Sonya Balmores, and Iwan Rheon debuts on Friday, September 29th at 8:00pm EST on ABC.