Grade A+ - 97%
Darkly Comedic and Wonderful!
Netflix’ “The Umbrella Academy” takes center stage and demands the attention it deserves. Premiered February 15th, the darkly comedic, dystopian superhero story developed by Steve Blackman gets its roots from a comic book of the same name written by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba. Original, funny, and self-effacing, this super hero story avoids taking its self too seriously, and therein lies its charm.
Set in Manhattan in the 1980’s, our gang of super heroes have disbanded and wandered off to varying degrees of success. The premise of the story involves 43 babies born in the same month, all around the world, to women who, up until the moment they gave birth, were not actually pregnant. An eccentric billionaire adopts 7 of them, and raises them as a group of young crime fighters, whose amazing abilities can save the world from well, its self. Unfortunately, the children grow up to be resentful, unhappy, dysfunctional adults who want nothing to do with saving the world, and can’t even save themselves from their own self destructive impulses.
Well, that’s not entirely true. One of the 7 gets sent to the moon to keep a look out for…space invaders? Another gets kicked out of the police academy, but continues to try to fight crime, much to the chagrin of the actual police. But the rest are either an unhappy movie star with divorce and child custody problems, an over looked and socially awkward budding violinist, an Adam Ant styled drug addict, or just missing and dead. That’s right, the best of the best!
These characters are refreshing, and miserable examples of the human condition. Their dialogue is both witty and original – as non-conformist as the characters themselves. Their powers range from mind control, to magic knife throwing, super strength (because you’ve gotta have one of those) to communing with the dead. My two favorites however, are the time/space traveler, and octopus arms man (my own name for him) able to grab multiple crooks at once, and shake them until their brains leak out of their ears.
They convene together for their “father’s” funeral, but can barely stay in the same room together. Things go from bad to worse when they disagree about whether or not fowl play was present in their father’s death. And then things get really interesting. Their long lost brother returns through a time/space portal to reveal that the world is ending in a matter of days, and they have to get their acts together to stop it.
While the pacing of the story starts out slowly, it picks up as the series progresses, and you will be sucked in like a butterfly in a time/space continuum vacuum. You’ll have to trust me on that one. The musical numbers burst onto the scene like flashbacks from the 60’s through the 80’s. While at first a little disorienting, they soon bring you along for the magical ride, enhancing the story and defining the tone. If we are of the same taste, and mind then you’ll fall in love. If we’re not, then you’ll hate me. But what are the odds of that?
The cast members are all strong actors, but stand outs include David Castaneda as the knife thrower and Robert Sheehan as the drug addict, as well as the kid playing the adult who comes back through time, Aidan Gallagher – amazing! Binge it on Netflix now – you won’t be sorry!