Friday, September 1, 2017

Marvel's Inhumans IMAX "Movie"—Is It Worth Seeing It in Theaters?

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I don’t really want to spend a lot of time on this mini-review, so I’m just going to cut to the chase.  I just finished watching Marvel’s Inhumans in our “local” IMAX theater.  This was a time commitment of around two-and-a-half hours because this “local” theater is 30 minutes away and Inhumans is 75 minutes long (plus previews).  Further, an IMAX ticket at this theater costs just under $14.  So in other words I spent an hour in the car and $14 dollars to watch something which I can see (with 9 minutes of additional footage) for free 4 weeks from today (Marvel’s Inhumans debuts on ABC on Friday, September 29).

This is my basis for answering the following question:  Is it worth it for you to go see Inhumans in theaters these next 2 weeks?

In a word?  No.  It’s not worth it.

That’s not to say that Inhumans is bad or anything like that; it’s actually a pretty good show with definite promise.  Unfortunately, it just plain doesn’t live up to the IMAX experience.  At least not for me.

The “movie” itself does not come across to me as a movie; it comes across much more like a TV pilot.  Admittedly, that’s what this is—a 2-hour TV pilot cut down for a theatrical release—but it’s not what it should be.  Instead, I was expecting this to be a movie:  90 minutes of a complete story in which the actors are comfortable in their parts, we see some excitement and plot (including that Marvel action we’ve come to expect from MCU movies), and it has something of a definite conclusion.  Since this is a “movie” that sets up a TV miniseries, it makes sense for the conclusion to be less-than-conclusive, but it should nonetheless tell a complete story.  For the most part, Inhumans delivers:  there is a clear plot and conflict to the “movie,” there is plenty of excitement, the characters get varying levels of development (at least enough to build our interest in learning more about them), and there’s even some action.

Unfortunately, there are three major points where this “movie” falls short:  the actors don’t seem “comfortable” in their parts quite yet, the conclusion feels a little too open-ended, and (biggest of all) it does not deliver on the IMAX experience.

I’m trying to avoid spoilers here, but this is in the advertising so I don’t feel too bad:  Triton is on Earth looking for new Inhumans in the opening scene.  He finds one, and they have a conversation.  This may have been the worst scene in the “movie” with regard to that first point.  Both Triton and the new Inhuman do not feel comfortable in their parts—Triton in particular sounds like he is just reading off the script.  The other main characters do not suffer from this nearly as much as Triton does, but Triton stands out so much because he is the first Royal Family member introduced.

I won’t say too much about the conclusion except to say that it is very open.  This makes perfect sense for a TV show—particularly for a pilot—and it does incentivize viewers to watch the series when it is on the air.  But I would have preferred something a little more definite that still gives hints at the conflict to come.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that the better decision for Marvel TV and Scott Buck would have been to save this pilot to air on TV at the end of the month, and to write a new “prequel movie” for the series which would introduce the characters, give some conflict for them to overcome together, and then end with their recognition of the Terrigen-in-Earth’s-water problem and Triton’s mission.

The final point is what really drives my answer to the original question.  From what I understand, IMAX is footing some of the bill for this series, which gives them the right to host the first showings.  The “movie”/pilot was even filmed specifically for IMAX to create a better viewing experience in theaters.  Unfortunately, the finished product still looks a little too much like it’s supposed to be viewed on a TV screen.  There are exactly three scenes in this movie (maybe four) that are what I would call “IMAX shots”—clips which are shot in a way what accentuates the crispness and detail possible in IMAX.  There is a shot at the beginning of raindrops falling while Triton runs.  There are two different panoramic shots of Attilan.  And there’s a shot of Gorgon using his powers (you knew there had to be one of those).  None of them are particularly worth the $14 admission price, unfortunately.  The shots of Attilan, in particular, are disappointing since I was expecting something more substantial for it, considering that it is in the (presumably more-expensive) pilot which was filmed as an IMAX movie.  Instead, it looks like it was designed for TV on a TV budget (the quality isn’t that much better than something like Firefly, which managed much better effects for its movie continuation, Serenity).  In fact, viewing it in IMAX resolution just highlights the poor quality of the effects!

So no, I would not recommend that you run out to your local IMAX theater to get the full IMAX experience of Marvel’s Inhumans.  It’s certainly not a bad “movie”/pilot, but you can get the exact same experience at home in a few weeks without spending IMAX prices.

That being said, if you do go out to see it in theaters, be sure to stay after the credits:  there is a post-credits scene, and then there is also a teaser for the rest of the season.

I will have more thoughts on Inhumans in the coming weeks.  When it is actually on TV I will do a full review of it.  Before then (probably this week) I will publish my thoughts on what I would have done differently with this release.  For now, I do still think that Marvel’s Inhumans will be a good series and a respectable win for Marvel TV, even if it doesn’t do so great in theaters.

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