Monday, 11 September 2017

Review: Marvel's Inhumans

Marvel's Inhumans (IMAX)
Cert: 12A / 77 mins / Dir. Roel Reine / Trailer

The most important thing to bear in mind (in the context of this blog) about the latest IMAX-presented Marvel offering, Inhumans, is that it's not a film. The 77-minute feature is in fact the first two episodes of the upcoming TV series, stitched together*1. And TV really isn't my medium*2, but I'm going to try and break it apart the same way in any case…

We begin on Earth's moon, where a hidden city called Attilan is home to a society of genetically modified, super-powered humans living in self-imposed exile*3. The Inhuman royal family, consisting of king Black Bolt (Anson Mount), queen Medusa (Serinda Swan), advisor Karnak (Ken Leung), guard-leader Gorgon (Eme Ikwuakor) and Medusa's sister Crystal (Isabelle Cornish) are subject to a coup from Black Bolt's brother Maximus (Iwan Rheon). Using his connections inside the palace, Maximus separates the family and captures or banishes them to Earth, while seizing control of the city and promising freedom and prosperity to its citizens. This opening double-bill covers the plot itself, and the Inhumans arrival on our planet, setting the stage for a battle for the throne in the subsequent six episodes…

So for obvious reasons (given the most important thing, above), even on a 26½ metre, laser-projected cinema screen Inhumans feels televisual. And it's fantastic-looking television, but still. Marvel's decision to introduce an entirely new species in a previously unvisited location within a compressed run-time means the screenplay is prone to bursts of rapid-fire backstory exposition, the likes of which always stand out because they just aren't conversational. The story's (literally) otherworldly society with benign dictatorship and 'coming of age' ceremonies, along with the themes of loyalty, responsibility and revolution, give Inhumans a distinct Y.A. feel, although the only two characters who fit the appropriate age-bracket are in supporting roles at this point.

The central players are all given a fair crack of the story-whip, given the amount of ground which is covered in such a short run-time, and since each of the Inhumans has their own unique power or ability, this goes some way to separating them in the audience's consciousness. Medusa's character is given far more screentime than I'd initially feared she would, and Black Bolt's 'fish out of water' turn is a thing of understated comic beauty. But for all the engaging performances from the cast, I have to say that my favourite character so far is probably Lockjaw, the giant CGI teleporting dog, whose all-too-brief screen-time can best be described as "fucking adorable".

It's an intriguing start to a series I hope to be able to finally set aside time to keep up with. Although part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there are no overt crossover-links at this point*4, but with a further six episodes to go in the first season anything is possible.

As a collective entity The Inhumans do, as DigitalFox points out, "solve the MCU's mutant-problem"; what they use that solution for will be of greater interest…

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
Inhumans is, at this point, pretty much strictly for fans of the MCU, even though it's not yet tied in too tightly.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
Only if it takes your fancy. IMAX cameras or not, TV is designed to be watched on your TV…

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
It does.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Couldn't say, I'm afraid.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Not at all.

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Not that I heard.

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: Admiral Statura's in this.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 The other thing that did not escape my attention is that there were around a dozen people occupying the 644-seat auditorium. On the opening weekend of a new Marvel property. In the only IMAX theatre in the world-famous Leicester Square, the very home of cinema in the capital. I think it's fairly safe to say that no matter what my opinion is on the content, nobody gives two fucks about Inhumans. Well not yet, at any rate... [ BACK ]

*2 That's not a snob-thing by the way, I just don't seem to get time to watch TV. I'm very aware that as a purported fan of the MCU, my viewing-backlog of the televisual continuity-arm is positively embarrassing. [ BACK ]

*3 Although if some of the city's inhabitants are human and don't have super-powers, why are they on the moon as well? How come the Terrigenesis ritual is needed to imbue mutations at adolescence, implying that two ascended Inhumans having children together would just produce human offspring and that their abilities aren't actually bonded to them on a genetic level? I hope this will be explored later in the series, but given that this cinematic feature had the modus operandi of establishing things then moving onward, I'm not holding my breath. [ BACK ]

*4 I say this as someone who hasn't even got to the end of season one of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. yet. See footnote #2. There is a brief scene in this pilot with people on Earth surrounded by screens and noting the disturbance created by the Inhumans' separate arrivals. If this is S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, then fair enough. Anyway, what I mean is that it's not like Tony Stark comes walking on-set or anything… [ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.


  1. No Agent Coulson?... He's the best thing about Agents Of Shield. And you might remember him from the films.

    1. Hah! Precisely Mim.
      Nope, he's not in it. Hopefully later in the series, though?