‘We need to strike first!’ – Inhumans (IMAX Preview Taster)

As Inhumans, the latest Marvel-related product, is currently still in post-production we were, rather disappointingly, not provided with a full episode but instead four clips, an opportunity to see the SSDC trailer on the big-big screen and a Q&A with director of the first two episodes, Roel Reine.

Fans of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D will already be familiar with the concept of Inhumans, which was first introduced in the second series. The Inhumans are a race of altered human beings that were created by the alien race the Kree (who also featured in Guardians of the Galaxy). Due to the Kree’s genetic experimentation, when an Inhuman is at a certain age they take part in a ceremony which involves being exposed to the Terrigen Mist – this activates and assigns each person their power/ability. Each power and ability differs greatly which leads to a hierarchy/caste according to each individual power/ability. Inhumans focuses on the Inhuman royal family, led by their king Black Bolt (Mount), who after experiencing a military coup at the hands of his brother, Maximus (Rheon), find that their must try to save  not just themselves but the entire world. Fans of S.H.I.E.L.D may be pleased to know that the Terrigen Mist process has been carefully replicated by the Inhumans team, although Reine refused to share any more insight into if/how Inhumans will be connected to the wider world of the MCU.

The Dutch director (The DeliveryBlood Drive, Black Sails) spoke with much enthusiasm about his latest venture. The decision to film the first two episodes of the series in IMAX and screen them prior to the air date of the tv versions is something of a first, but something Reine believes may not be the last. Repeatedly using the term ‘cinematical’ (which may be of his own creation) he described with fondness the process of filming with IMAX cameras – the obstacles he faced in terms of sizing of the huge frame offered by filming in IMAX, how he reduced the difficulty of filming sequences that will have a 2,000lb canine added by CG by creating a bright blue foam dog the size of a small car for use in rehearsals and how spending three months filming in Hawaii wasn’t all that bad… He also ‘jokingly’ called out IMAX for not still having not set up his meeting with Christopher Nolan, who he greatly admires, to discuss their respective experiences of filming in IMAX. Reine’s take-away message about seeing the show on an IMAX screen is that doing so will provide greater ’emotional involvement’ – anyone who’s had the opportunity to see Dunkirk in IMAX may agree with the theory.

But the reason you’re probably reading this is for info about the clips themselves, what new insights have been glimed and how are things looking. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but things are looking decidedly ‘meh.’ The trailer itself didn’t look all that different from seeing it on the small screen – although it made the landscapes look more impressive it simultaneously further undermined the dodgy-looking costumes and iffy-looking acting.

Clip one, set in an Hawaiian jungle featuring an unknown assailant being chasing after by a heavily armed task force. Triton (Moh), Black Bolt’s cousin whose gift is his fish-like ability to live underwater, appears and explains to her the reason for her recent transformation is the fact she is an Inhuman. The Hawaiian jungle looks stunning, unlike Moh’s costume. It’s green and gilly – and not in a good way. It’s so fake and plastically looking that it’s almost hypnotizing with how distracting it is, something which is rather fortunate as the dialogue is so creaky and laden with exposition.

Clip two is a dining room sequence during which Black Bolt and Maximus face off over the former sending Triton to Earth on a secret mission and the fact Trition is currently missing in action. Sides are quickly drawn and it is clear further conflict is on the horizon. As Black Bolt’s ability is the power to destroy cities with a mere whisper he must remain ever silent, using a type of sign language created by Mount with the help of experts. That in itself is rather impressive, the absence of any charisma is not. Prior concerns about Medusa’s (Swan) wig resurface as do those regarding Rheon’s accent which seems to be both no distinguishable accent and all accents in existence at once.

Coincidentally the next clip involves a stand-off between Medusa and Maximus. The script still feels clunky and stilted. Rheon’s accent sounds different each time he utters a new word whereas his performance and delivery is consistently dialed to 11 – and not in a good way. Swan’s wig looks slightly better in full CG mode but it still distracts and does her really cheap looking costume. I missed bits of their dialogue as a result, however this may have been a blessing.

The fourth and final clip demonstrates the powers of two more of Black Bolt’s cousins. Karnak (Leung) has the ability to see the fault in things, allowing him to plan how to fight against Maximus’ guards. Gorgon (Ikwuakor) has super strong legs, with a single stomp he’s able to cause great damage. In both cases, as is true of the other clips, the CG is acceptable enough, the exteriors are stunning, but the dialogue and costuming leave a lot to be desired.

The audience response was lukewarm and slightly subdued, a smattering of clapping but little more. Concerns were raised by fans back when the first trailer hit the web and, based on these four clips, things still aren’t looking all that hopeful.

Credits:
o Dir: Roel Reine
o Scr: Scott Buck
o Cast: Anson Mount, Serinda Swan, Iwan Rheon, Ken Leung, Eme Ikwuakor, Isabelle Cornish, Mike Moh, Sonya Balmores, Ellen Woglom
o Prd: Scott Buck
o DOP: Jeff Jur
o Music: Sean Callery
o Country: USA
o Year: 2017
o Run time: 8 episodes, length of each episode T.B.C

The first two episodes of Inhumans will premiere exclusively for a two week period in IMAX cinemas, starting from September 1st 2017. It will then begin its run in the US on ABC on September 29th. The broadcaster and date of broadcast for the UK is currently T.B.C.