A gruesome birth on the edge of an indoor pool, an English narrator, seven special children, and we have yet another superhero TV show. Where previous superhero movies fulfil your secret superhero dreams, The Umbrella Academy depicts their hard lives. The show focuses on family rather than the usual action-packed scenes.
Based on the comic book series created and written by Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel Bá, Netflix’s adaptation gives a new meaning to angst and weirdness. The authors, by the way, collaborated with the screenwriters to bring the comic to life.
The Umbrella Academy focuses on the lives of seven children, who were the result of an unusual pregnancy and were brought up by billionaire scientist Reginald Hargreeves. Throughout the season, Hargreeves is shown to be more adept at teaching his children to fight and “save the world” rather than being a somewhat decent father. He wants his children to be superheroes, the save-the-world-with-minutes-to-spare kind. Instead, they grow up to be chaotic-neutral vigilantes and addicts.
The show starts off slow, introducing us to adults struggling not only with their lives but also their powers. The story is then told in flashback and present-day pattern – which entices viewers to binge-watch even if you don’t want to. Unfortunately, the once-interesting characters soon turn bland.
Award-winning Canadian actress Ellen Page’s Eeyore impersonation is overshadowed by Robert Sheehan, who plays Klaus Hargreeves, aka Number Four – a drug addict in a state of shaking, bartering, and constant confusion. Klaus’ drug intake and his haunted nature make sense when we see that he can conjure up the dead. In contrast to Page, Sheehan shines – until he overdoes it.
However, one new thing that showrunner Steve Blackman brings to life is the soundtrack. Along with creator Gerard Way, he manages to perfectly counteract the violence in the show with catchy beats, ensuring a sense of madness and out-of-body experiences for his audience. He also uses music in the pilot to showcase the characters’ personalities through an unchoreographed dance sequence — which does a lot to make the pilot episode successful.
The Umbrella Academy is visually thrilling and no one can deny that the set design works incredibly well with the story. But if you’re looking for some fast-paced action, The Umbrella Academy is not for you. Although the show brilliantly portrays a dysfunctional family, where everyone hates one another but is forced to come together anyways, it gets repetitive and the original promise of the show is lost. There is minimal action, a lot of drama and a whole lot of angst, resulting in a thinned-out, watered-down, rather bleak version of the X-Men.