Inhumanly bad?

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Warning – this review contains spoilers!

We finished watching the Marvel’s Inhumans series on TV the other night. Goodness, what a disappointment. The first couple of episodes weren’t bad – an intriguing premise, reasonably interesting characters and a nice line in confusion about who the real baddies were.

But it went downhill fast. The whole thing felt rushed (8 episodes for an entire series really isn’t enough). Too often plot strands which appeared to be going somewhere interesting were shut down in the very next episode and never referred to again, and vast developments were ushered past us so quickly we kept missing their importance. Added to that, the dialogue was mostly wooden, the special effects ludicrous, and some of the acting was terrible. The exceptions to this were Ken Leung as Karnak and British actor Iwan Rheon (above) as villain Maximus, both of whom managed to bypass the dialogue to inject a bit of feeling into their characters. Anson Mount struggled heroically with the role of Black Bolt, the mute king who had to ‘sign’ all his dialogue and mostly resorting to scowling and pointing, and several of the women were no more than stock characters (the pouting princess, the kooky scientist).

In almost every department the key words seemed to be ‘every expense spared’. The mutant ‘inhumans’ had a range of dodgy special powers which were mostly useless (a young lass with butterfly wings, someone with reptile claws instead of hands – which were so obviously rubber gloves it hurt). And in many of the crowd scenes the producers had obviously used extras rather than actors, so they simply trudged onto the set, listened to whatever was going on, then trudged back off again without so much as a word. Even if they’d all just been sentenced to death.

All of this made it hard to care for most of the characters, so when one of them died it had very little emotional impact. In fact, pretty much the only character I did care about was Maximus, the king’s usurping younger brother, which led to an uneasy conflict between caring about the baddie and not particularly liking the supposed ‘goodies’.

And the ending was really unpleasant. Maximus was clearly suffering from severe mental illness, but nobody offered him any help or treatment, just locked him in a concrete bunker for all eternity. Hardly the right message to send out nowadays; it would have been unenlightened even in the 19th century, let alone the 21st.

We were left with a strong feeling of ‘if only’. With a bit of care, some decent writing and the time to develop both the themes and the characters properly, this could have been a worthy addition to the Marvel stable, and a counterpoint to all their expensive biff-bang-wallop movies that are currently doing the rounds. Word is the series has been cancelled anyway, but even if it comes back it’s touch and go if we’ll bother to watch it again.

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