Friday, September 29, 2017

Awkward Redefining Comes When "Behold . . . The Inhumans" Opens Inhumans Season 1!

The Good: Moments of concept and character
The Bad: Stiff acting, Generally lame special effects, Boring plot, Crowded character palate
The Basics: Inhumans begins with an unremarkable coup in "Behold . . . The Inhumans," which is a fairly low beginning a Marvel Cinematic Universe series.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is getting quite crowded. To be fair, the Marvel Comic book source material is a pretty vast collection of books. But expanding and developing the comic book world into the Marvel Cinematic Universe has some inherent challenges. When Inhumans was first announced, the plan was to make a film and that seemed to get put on hold based upon how the Inhumans were developed over the course of the second and third seasons of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. (reviewed here and here, respectively). And that direction worked for the often very realistic portion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Inhumans were defined as super-powered individuals who had Kree DNA in them that was activated by terrigenesis - exposure to terrigen crystals.

That changes with "Behold . . . The Inhumans," the pilot episode of ABC's Inhumans television show. Inhumans is an eight-episode season of Marvel Cinematic Universe television that redefines the Inhumans and Earth's moon in the MCU. And, much like the use of the facehuggers in the Alien films, terrigenesis is radically redefined in Inhumans with no cocoons and a pretty much instantaneous transformation.

On the island of Oahu, Hawaii, a young woman who has undergone terrigenesis is chased by anti-Inhuman mercenaries. She is rescued by a green-skinned Inhuman named Triton, who offers to take her to the City Of Attilan, a supposed refuge for Inhumans . . . cloaked on Earth's moon. There, Medusa - Queen of the Inhumans - and Black Bolt rule over the City. Their lives are upended when a Pathfinder-style probe knocks into the cloaked borders of Attilan and Gorgon stomps on it. Despite Black Bolt's brother, Maximus, wanting to attack Earth preemptively, the Inhumans continue their isolation. But when the Attilan Royal Family comes together for a terrigenesis ceremony, Maximus is given a prophecy from one of the would-be Inhumans.

Triton's death on Earth comes to the attention of the Attilan Royal Council , but Maximus openly stands against Black Bolt and other Royals are offended that they did not know of Triton's mission. Maximus, beginning to believe that the vision the young Inhuman had might be true, turns to the leader of the Genetic Council for support. Maximus and an ally in the Genetic Council take out the leader and begin a coup against Black Bolt's regime . . . set as he is on bringing the Inhumans from the moon to Earth.

Arguably the biggest issue with "Behold . . . The Inhumans" is that the source material is an ensemble piece and that is a lot to thrust into an hour debut. The result is that Inhumans begins as a collection of weakly characterized watered-down versions of mutants. Medusa is established instantly as possessing long hair that moves independent of her hands (she is possibly telekinetic and telepathic in this rendition) and Maximus is an Inhuman who simply underwent terrigenesis and lost his Inhuman DNA. Were it not for my familiarity with the source material, Black Bolt would appear in "Behold . . . The Inhumans" as a boring mute king. Eventually, a flashback explains Black Bolt, but it is hard to care about the coup against him when the character is so ill-defined and boring.

Attilan has a caste system, which is glossed over in "Behold . . . The Inhumans." Maximus seems at moments to be sympathetic to the mundane Inhumans (if there is such a thing), but "Behold . . . The Inhumans" ends before any of that can be satisfactorily explored. In a similar fashion, "Behold . . . The Inhumans" is packed with new, unfamiliar, characters. As a result, characters are thrust into various situations and rescued or threatened by others who have no clearly established abilities before those abilities are revealed. As a result, "Behold . . . The Inhumans" is packed with what appears to be characters stacked into the episode for plot convenience, as opposed to genuine characterization.

In "Behold . . . The Inhumans," Lockjaw is introduced (in advance of Captain Marvel). The giant dog with teleporting powers is rendered with some of the worst CGI in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Even worse than the special effects in "Behold . . . The Inhumans" is the acting. None of the performers in "Behold . . . The Inhumans" seem particularly engaged in their roles. Arguably the actor who I'd seen in the most works before this was Ken Leung and he is given virtually no chance to illustrate his charisma or talent as Karnak in "Behold . . . The Inhumans." Iwan Rheon is stiff as Maximus and Eme Ikwuakor seems like he is just delivering lines - not embodying a character. Serinda Swan is virtually emotionless as Medusa, which is problematic given the horrific nature of what happens to her character in "Behold . . . The Inhumans."

Ultimately, "Behold . . . The Inhumans" is a simplistic coup and aftermath story involving a slew of ill-defined, poorly-presented characters the viewer fails to care about.

For other Marvel Cinematic Universe pilot episodes, please check out my reviews of:
"The H Word" - The Defenders
"Pilot"- Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
"Into The Ring" - Daredevil

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Marvel's Inhumans - The Complete First Season, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the premiere season of Inhumans here!


For other television reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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