ABC Studios’ hold on the Marvel franchise has been a slippery affair, to say the least with more misses than hits. So with the fanfare being pumped into the cinematic release of the first couple episodes of Inhumans, we held on to a renewed hope of Marvel / ABC venture that would find a comfortable space in the Marvel universe that would rival that of Marvel + Netflix or Marvel + Fox.
Alas, the Inhumans event has arrived and we’re here to make sense of it all.
Inhumans are the self-proclaimed rulers of the moon. By a special process of exposing humans to the Terrigen Mist, depending on seemingly genetics and blind luck, some humans can gain superhuman abilities. Those that the mist doesn’t change will forever live working the mines and serving the superior class that is Inhumans. Sounds splendid. But the human brother Maximus of the Inhuman king Black Bolt has endeavours to leave the Moon and its overpopulated, resource-poor environment to return with the rest of the humans back Earth. And to do that, a little coup goes underway that undermines Black Bolt’s rule. But before Maximus can successfully capture the king, he is whisked away by Lockjaw, a teleporting oversized K9 that brings him to the place he thought he’d never touch down on for a long while – Earth.
And throw in some carnal lust that the Maximus has for his sister-in-law – Queen Medusa – there’s a lot of drama to go around. Well, as the theory goes anyway. But here is where things get sticky. Or flat…
IMAX, the most powerful camera in cinema to date that has a format that records a lot more information than any other camera. So more definition and clarity is always great, especially considering that these cameras are great when portraying adventurous camera movements or a simulacrum with depth and scale. That is why this IMAX outing for Inhumans had me straight bugging. The feature was skint on this.
The most we got out of IMAX was stock footage-esque looks at the natural splendor of Hawaii. Even the camera distances and angles were cut and dry. Nothing even equal to the cinematic fervor of Games Of Thrones or American Gods. This was typical ABC TV series but on an IMAX camera. Overkill.
Now the VFX of the feature was commendable. Mainly because of Lockjaw. Come on. Who doesn’t want their dog 10 times their normal size? But as expected any interaction with Lockjaw would be a limited affair. One particular scene felt woefully painful to watch when the Lockjaw was incapacitated and fell to the ground. Not so much that the dog was hurt. But the blatant attempt not to make Crystal not interact with the space where the 3D dog would lie. And Isabelle Cornish’s acting leaves a lot to be desired as well.
Another effects-handclap has to go to Medusa and her hair. It was a pretty nice acting on Serinda Swan’s part an seeing her hair flare up subtly as if it were a cobra head in her confrontation with Maximus – very nice. And would you believe that this is the only greatest ‘fight scene’ in the entire ordeal? Yeah. And how does the 3D hair effect look more natural than that tired old red wig? And can we talk costumes too? No extra embroidered styling on the clothes of the lunar royalty. Or how about these grand moon building structures and the interiors that look like the set designers said “more fairy lights = space theme”.
Black Bolt as a character could be interesting. The power to wreak real havoc with the uttering of a breath. The use of sign language. All would have been unique characteristics what would make him stand out amongst hero-dom. Alas, I think to have the king come across as a snarky little troublemaker whilst on earth had our hero neither hold the visage of royalty or the onus of representation of the disabled community. I know that sounds hella PC, and you guys know that’s so not me. But I think an argument can be made that Black Bolt falls a few rungs short of us caring about his outcome. And while everyone else is ‘busy’ looking for their king (ie.laying fetal in the woodlands, riding a tour bus and hanging out with surfers), I’m somewhat more interested in Maximus’ overall plan.
The end of the feature left me a bit puzzled. Slightly annoyed. A most vanilla of twists shows a once dead-now-not-dead Maximus-henchwoman healing herself and calling for back-up. Inhumans call to action for the next episode. Now it may be my expectations, but when one thinks IMAX, you think cinema grade audio-visual enthrallment. Hell, as shitty as Transformers was, at least in terms of visual scope and movement, there was enough there to say ‘that’s cool-looking’.
But alas, I feel we can expect more of the same, or less, come the actual TV series on ABC. I’d rather they took all the IMAX fanfare and invest in wardrobe. Maybe some acting classes for a few. Either way, the most that can be hoped for is that the series will get as long a miraculous run that Agents Of SHIELD has gotten.