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Inhumans - The First Chapter - Review - "IMAX Version"

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I went to see Inhumans last night without a lot of enthusiasm as I’d seen a screener earlier in the summer, and I was completely unimpressed by the screener. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the improvement over the earlier version. Is it the next Game of Thrones? No. Is it worth giving it a try? Yes. I’m giving it a solid B as having the potential to be a pretty fun hour of television going forward. I’ll be interested to hear what people think who don’t have the earlier version to compare to.

The plot is stronger in this version, though not perfect. It helps that it was longer than the released screener and the television even promises to be 10 minutes longer than the theatrical release. Admittedly, part of the plot issues may be that they are planning on teasing out some of the background and history, but the reality is that Maximus’ (Iwan Rheon) coup seems to come out of nowhere. And the ease with which he seems to pull it off had me wondering if Black Bolt (Anson Mount) and Medusa (Serinda Swan) are such wonderful and beloved monarch, why was there no resistance?

Going forward, with the Inhumans on the run on Earth, there are lots of opportunity for fish out of water storylines. However, with most of the main characters on Earth, it leaves the cast on the moon at somewhat of a disadvantage. I’m assuming – and hoping – that at some point more of the Inhuman caste will make themselves known, and so far, they’ve had no use for Maximus as a human. Perhaps more major characters will emerge from their ranks. So far, the only really interesting character on the moon is Maximus.

There were certainly other factors that nagged at me. If your King is mute, why is the Queen the only one who understands his rather minimal and lame sign language? If we accept that they all speak English – with an American accent – including Rheon – why can’t the King use standard ASL? And why wouldn’t everyone learn it? Especially when opening his mouth has devastating effects?

Speaking of effects and stunts, the CGI is much improved in this version, and there is an hilarious scene with a tumbling police car when Black Bolt has a grunt forced out of him. The sets are great - and they land on Hawaii, so there's beautiful scenery! Medusa’s hair still leaves a lot to be desired, but they take care of that issue in a pretty inventive way.

        Karnak’s (Ken Leung) ability to see the consequences of every choice has some pretty cool effects attached, but I primarily love this kind of gimmick, going back to how well it was done in Guy Richie’s Sherlock movies. Lockjaw is very well done, but that can’t be a cheap effect, so I suspect we won’t see much of the giant, teleporting dog. The one effect that I felt sure had to be a placeholder in the screener was the one which saw no improvement – and that’s Gorgon’s (Eme Ikwuakor) feet. His hooves and legs are ridiculously bad.

As for the cast, it too is somewhat of a mixed bag in all respects. In the screener, I was not at all impressed by Mount as Black Bolt. However, once we get to Earth, he becomes a lot more interesting – and has some pretty funny scenes too. Once he becomes more expressive, he’s a lot more interesting – and it can’t be easy to try to establish a character with no dialogue.

In both the screener and the IMAX version, my favorite character has to be Karnak. Leung is fantastic – he delivers his dialogue perfectly and really pulls of the world-weary pragmatist well. It has to be trying to know how things will play out. It will be interesting to see if being on earth has really messed with his powers or whether it’s his being injured.

My main reason for wanting to see this show – besides my love of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – was Iwan Rheon. I was also disappointed by his performance in the screener, but it definitely is improved by the revamped version. I still have issues with his motivations, but I feel that’s more of a plotting issue than an acting issue. After all, it’s hard to play a part if you don’t have the whole story, right? I am a bit concerned that they may be relying a little too heavily on cloning Maximus from Ramsey Bolton – Game of Thrones.

Ikwuakor does a creditable job with Gorgon, although the scene in which he somehow magically gets pulled into the ocean while searching for Triton (Mike Moh) is just silly and badly edited. I did, however, love him getting saved by surfers, who he then tells everything, including that he’s from the moon – and they’re cool with it! But those feet. Seriously. They have to deal with the feet.

Sadly, the female cast is pretty uniformly awful. Sonya Balmores (Auran) as Maximus’ bounty hunter is fine, and there is a decent fight scene between her and Medusa. But again, how is it that the Queen doesn’t even know what Auran’s powers actually are? Serinda Swan, however, did not impress me. She is very good in the scene in which Maximus takes care of her power, but otherwise I wasn’t impressed. She is saddled with the gimmick of having to translate everything that Black Bolt says, but she’s really terrible at delivering the lines.

Isabelle Cornish as Crystal also failed to impress me. Perhaps it’s a factor that her character is so utterly annoying. Spoiled brat much? The only point at which she became interesting is when she used her power.

I’m really interested to see what fans of the comics think of the series. I realize that this review has been pretty negative, but I think this is the kind of show that if you don’t think about it too hard could just be some good fun with cool CGI and excited fight and action sequences. However, there is also the opportunity to really explore some real world problems – such as the caste system on the moon. It’s also always nice to tease out current events by having a complete outsider have to deal with them, thus highlighting the issues.

So, should you watch this one? Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was a bit slow out of the box and took a few episodes to really establish the storylines – that could easily be the case here. I also have to admit that part of me is sad that the money spent on this show wasn’t spent on another season of Agent Carter – whose entire cast was brilliant. I’m going to stick this one out for at least a few episodes to give it a chance to hit its stride. If you have watched the IMAX version, let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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