Review – Umbrella Academy Season 1&2
Directed by: Ellen Kuras, Stephen Surjik & Others
Produced by: Gerard Way, Steve Blackman & Others
Written by: Gerard Way, Steve Blackman & Others
Release Date: 2019 – 2020
A few years ago when I heard the guy from My Chemical Romance had written a graphic novel, it piqued my interest. However, after reading up on some reviews of the book, it came across as quite unoriginal and somewhat sounded like a rip-off of other properties like Watchmen and X-Men. There was also the fact that I found the obscure character designs and bizarre artwork slightly off-putting at a glance. I never got around to reading it after this as I was kind of put off by the accusations of unoriginality and the weird art.
Then in late 2018, I read that there was a Netflix adaption of the comic being released and my curiosity was once again piqued. After reading some of the early glowing reviews from critics, I knew that I had found my next binge.
This show is fantastic, which for the most part is owed to its well written and well acted characters. The members of the Umbrella Academy and their various odd relationships with one another, as well as the outsiders that interact with them throughout the show, make the character dynamics of this show as a whole pretty unique and exciting.
The cast are all brilliant, with Robert Sheehan’s Klaus being the clear stand-out, – especially in the first season. He gets all of the best lines and nails the American accent that he speaks with in the show. The rest of the cast are also great, although I feel like David Castaneda deserves a special shout-out due to the how well he nails Diego’s brilliant character progression in the second season.
It is cool to get an insight into the world that the show-runners have crafted, which is as odd as it is charming. It is similar to our own world, with a few pretty drastic changes that change the dynamic of the universe in a oddly interesting way. There were points while watching the show that I was reminded of other superhero stories like Watchmen and X-Men, but instead of Umbrella Academy blatantly ripping off these other stories, it instead takes some of the best parts from its respective influences and adapts them to suit the narrative that is unfolding. It comes off as more of a wink and a nod than just a lazy copy/paste job.
I also feel like the amazing CGI work on Pogo the chimp, – who is highly intelligent and serves as the family’s butler in the first season, – deserves a shout-out. It is quite possibly the best CGI that I have ever seen in a TV show and is almost on the same level as the CGI on Caesar in the Planet Of The Apes movies.
Overall, The Umbrella Academy is a stellar example of what happens when a show embraces its influences and presents them in a coherent way in collaboration with the original story that the show itself is telling. It is probably not the greatest superhero story ever filmed, but it is an extremely entertaining and satisfying ride that the show takes you on over its first 20 episodes and it is well worth your time.
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