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TV Review: The Umbrella Academy

Netflix, the umbrella academy, Colm Feore, comic book, Superhero, TV Review, Ellen Page, Drama

SYNOPSIS: On the same day in 1989, forty-three infants are inexplicably born to random, unconnected women who showed no signs of pregnancy the day before. Seven are adopted by a billionaire who creates The Umbrella Academy and prepares his "children" to save the world. Now, the six surviving members reunite upon the news of their father's passing and must work together to solve a mystery surrounding his death. But the estranged family begins to come apart due to their divergent personalities and abilities, not to mention the imminent threat of a global apocalypse.

Netflix, the umbrella academy, Colm Feore, comic book, Superhero, TV Review, Ellen Page, Drama

REVIEW: We are not even two months into 2019 and we already have our second television series based on a comic book. After Joe and Anthony Russo brought Deadly Class to SYFY, we now have the long in development adaptation of The Umbrella Academy debuting on Netflix. Based on the comic created by My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way, The Umbrella Academy is a blend of genres and styles that defies the conventions of what you see from Marvel and DC Comics. In many ways, The Umbrella Academy feels like if Wes Anderson and Tim Burton collaborated on an adaptation of Watchmen. Yeah, it is that weird.

Shifting between present day and the childhood of the inaugural class of The Umbrella Academy, the series focuses on the seven adopted children of Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore). While you may recognize some members of the cast like Tom Hopper (Starz' Black Sails) or Aidan Gallagher (Nicky, Ricky, Dicky and Dawn), the most recognizable faces in the cast are Ellen Page (X-MEN), Mary J. Blige, and Cameron Britton (Netflix's Mindhunter). But the lack of too many famous faces lets the cast playing Hargreeves' adopted children shine as we quickly learn how their unorthodox childhoods turned them into broken adults. The interaction between the siblings, especially with Page's Vanya, the only one without powers, is a highlight but by far not the best part of the show.

The best part of the show is that it never feels fake. A series with a talking primate and a team of powered individuals who can do everything from time travel to talk to dead people could easily have felt so ridiculous that you would never buy into it. Any story like this requires some suspension of disbelief, but the characters are all nuanced and flawed that you can relate to them almost immediately. It also helps that each episode is peppered with recognizable songs. The killer soundtrack should come as no surprise since creator Gerard Way is a rock star. But this is no vanity project and instead builds on the comic book story arcs while definind a tone all it's own.

The series also does a great job of balancing the comedy and the drama along with some well choreographed action sequences. Comics creators Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba serve as producers alongside showrunner Steve Blackman who brings his experience writing and producing the FX series Fargo and Legion. The series also benefits from writer Jeremy Slater (FOX's The Exorcist, DEATH NOTE) who manages to take two major arcs from The Umbrella Academy comic book and translates it to an effective and intriguing series. Each episode bounces between time periods and narratives for each of the Hargreeves children while still telling a cohesive and engaging season-long story about finding who killed Sir Hargreeves and preventing an apocalypse coming in just over a week.

Netflix, the umbrella academy, Colm Feore, comic book, Superhero, TV Review, Ellen Page, Drama

If there are any drawbacks to The Umbrella Academy, it could be the pacing. The editing is excellent and the aforementioned soundtrack gives every episode at least two or three standout sequences, but between those moments you may find yourself trying to figure out exactly what is going on. Fans of the comic will have no problem adjusting to the story having had context to who these characters are, but casual viewers may find the reveals coming a bit too slowly. I found the multiple narratives to be nicely balanced and the series made for an easy binge. Having seen the entire first season, I can say that this introductory run sets the table for many more seasons to come. Hopefully this series will find an audience wide enough to see the continued adventures of The Umbrella Academy.

The Umbrella Academy premieres February 15th on Netflix.

 

 

Source: JoBlo.com

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