Saturday, September 30, 2017

Inhumans Pilot - Differences from the Theatrical Version and General Thoughts

I saw the Inhumans theatrical release during it's second week in IMAX. I was intrigued by the hostility towards the show more than the show itself (I'd never heard of the Inhumans until the early days of the MCU, despite having been an avid Marvel reader in the late 80s-early 90s). As I said in my review (link above) I enjoyed the IMAX-release: it's not perfect by any means, but as a TV-pilot I was intrigued and wanted to see more of the story.

Prior to the theatrical release the news came out that the TV-version was going to contain extra footage, which I found a puzzling decision, so when it premiered on ABC last night I was curious what had been cut and how the inclusions impacted the story. Here's what I noticed (which is similar to CBR's list):
  • the entire subplot involving human scientist Louise (Ellen Woglom) was cut; she's the only person at the company responsible for the moon rover to notice that a hoof (Gorgon's) destroyed the rover; this subplot appears piecemeal throughout and serves three functions: 1) allows a humorous interplay of Gorgon saying no one is going to notice what he'd done with Louise noticing, 2) Louise notices energy patterns created by Lockjaw's teleportation and figures out a number of individuals have gone to Hawaii--this gives her motivation to investigate, 3) provides a glimpse of how most humans would react to these ideas (they reject them just as Louise's boss does)
  • a brief but important bit of dialogue between Maximus and Karnack about terrigenesis offering their different points-of-view (this occurs during the teregenesis scene)
  • parts of the Maximus plotline: 1) he talks to the head of genetic testing where he explains his plan and tries to recruit him--the recruitment fails, but persuade Auran who is also there and she kills him; this scene cleared up confusions I had from the theatrical release (I had no idea why Auran was supporting Maximus and I'd assumed his plan was for a hostile invasion of earth, whereas here he's proposing a peaceful move); it also explains why the coup happened at that time--with the murder there was no going back, 2) Maximus learns that the genetic council plans to kill him so he threatens them into passivity--this provides some resistance to him within Attilan which is entirely absent in the theatrical version, 3) dialogue between Maximus and Crystal where he threatens Lockjaw to pressure her; in this interaction he also mentions that her parents (and therefore Medusa's parents) attempted a coup against Black Bolt's parents and were killed because of it--this added information makes his earlier appeal to Medusa make more sense (in the theatrical version he does so based on childhood friendship alone)
All of these scenes serve character and plot and my only guess on why they were cut is for pacing reasons (I would have left them in). Woglom's performance as Louise isn't the strongest and I have no idea why the operations equipped is housed at the center of a giant, empty warehouse, but even so all this content would have helped the theatrical version.

How have my impressions changed with this viewing? I still enjoyed it--flaws remain, but some of vagueness from the IMAX-version have been resolved. It's always easier to be critical than to praise and I don't want to rehash my review too much, but I'll go over changed impressions along with those that are new:

The Good/Improved

  • The story: the plot and Maximus' motivation and strategy makes a lot more sense; there's also a better sense that Attilan is something that would  be noticed eventually (which ties in with Maximus' motivation)
  • Karnack: while there are two things that still bother me about what's done with his character (the terrible fight scene and him slipping down a cliff), Ken Leung's performance improved for me (the added dialogue with Maximus helped)

I still think criticism over the CGI is ridiculous (Medusa's hair is fine and Lockjaw looks great); Serinda Swan's edgy Medusa is well done; the moral ambiguity of the show is something we rarely see with Marvel (Maximus does evil things, but does them for ostensibly positive reasons--it's reminiscent of Loki)

The Bad/Got Worse

  • Crystal's (Isabelle Cornish) performance is very flat/wooden (the second viewing did not improve anything)
  • While I liked the idea behind the Louise plotline, the performance is flat, the set made no sense, and more development would have helped

I still have no idea why the Inhumans who fail terregenesis are digging tunnels (someone suggested it's for building materials--I mean, maybe?); I'm not a fan of the Scott Buckian flashbacks to things that happened within the same episode; Gorgon revealing the Inhumans secret location to surfer dudes (along with drowning himself looking for Triton) is still dumb

I'm not sure where the show will go in the remaining six episodes (which isn't a bad thing), other than I expect Attilan, or at least the Inhumans, will come to earth. In the comics Maximus isn't a permanent villain (again, like Loki), so I'm assuming something will happen to bring him back into the royal fold--some new enemy will rise up.

The only larger MCU tie-in is with Agents of SHIELD, and it does so directly as the show references events that are only known through that show. When Maximus talks about returning to earth he's not concerned with the Avengers (or anything else, for that matter).

Will there be a second season? It's likely up to Disney, at least judging by them denying ABC's desire to cancel Agents of SHIELD at the end of this past season. AoS does not have great ratings, so I'm not sure that's a major factor either. The larger question is whether IMAX will foot the bill for another season and I seriously doubt that, but with Medusa's hair cut the effects budget boils down to Lockjaw and that's a pretty easy element to reduce. What do I want? I want to see the rest of the season before I make a decision, but it would be shame to let an excellent cast walk away just because one season got shit on by critics (I've seen a tiny shift in the fan community about it, as Armin has changed his opinion after hating the IMAX version).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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