At the end of my screening of Inhumans, I overheard a woman say: “That was strange.”
She was absolutely correct and commendably concise. What makes Inhumans such an odd experience in IMAX is that it isn’t a feature film, but rather the first two episodes of an upcoming television series which have been stapled together at the middle. Both episodes shown in this presentation will soon be heading to the small screen free-of-charge, which begs the question: why bother paying to see it in IMAX? Simply put, you shouldn’t.
“Inhumans simply doesn’t belong in cinemas”
The glaring issue with Inhumans isn’t the show itself, but its chosen viewing method. From the opening credits, proudly emblazoned with “written for television” at multiple points, it is clear that Inhumans simply doesn’t belong in cinemas and has only been sent there as a publicity stunt (at great expense to its audience). Had Inhumans avoided this unnecessary theatrical run and gone straight to television, perhaps reviews would be slightly kinder.
Indeed, the visual effects in these episodes are actually not awful for a network TV show; with budgets often tight on such productions, Inhumans has done the best it can using limited resources. On an average-sized television the effects could even look passable, but they are not suited to scrutiny on a screen close to 100-feet tall. Alas, by showing in IMAX this series has definitely shot itself in the foot, if not the face.
“Not completely devoid of entertainment.”
Besides the effects and regrettable choice of venue, these two episodes were not completely devoid of entertainment. The story follows the Inhuman royal family in Attilan, a city on the moon where they have secretly lived for years. The Inhuman king, Black Bolt (Anson Mount), fails to provide the social change that his citizens have desired, ultimately leading to a coup led by his brother Maximus (Iwan Rheon) who takes over the throne.
Rheon is an alum of Game of Thrones, a pop culture juggernaut that this show is clearly inspired by, and provides the strongest performance by far. That’s not to say he was fantastic, but he was certainly more charismatic than his dreadfully bland co-stars. Mount has the toughest role to play, given that his character isn’t able to speak, and noticeably struggles throughout. He spends much of his screen-time pulling either confused or smug facial expressions, and proves to be an irritating presence whichever the case.
The script by Scott Buck lacks both the charm of the Marvel Studios movies, and the realism of the best that television has to offer, but does perk up at certain moments and is blessed with a fast pace.
Despite all the clickbait-friendly hyperbole about how awful it is, Inhumans is actually just unremarkably mediocre. You will not come away from these two episodes as a fan of the show, but equally it isn’t quite bad enough to hate. It is simply the same kind of background noise that network television has been churning out for years, the most painful criticism for fans being that it could have been so much more.