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'The Umbrella Academy' review

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The Umbrella Academy is a beautiful mash of just about every genre. It’s a crime show, a time-travel show, a family show, a music show, an ape show, and most of all, a superhero show. It’s a pretty bizarre series, with obvious shades of Men In Black, X-Men, Suicide Squad, and originality. Sometimes the mix isn’t stirred together as much as it probably should be, but to watch the creators try, is very enjoyable.

43 women randomly gave birth to superhumans one day, and a Professor X-like man tried to adopt them all, only getting away with seven. He raised these kids brutally, making them save the day time and time again, at abnormally young ages. He neglected them and abused them so much that as soon they were old enough, they all ran away. (Except for one staying, one dying and one going missing, but watch the show to know more about that stuff). This team of kids are old now, and when they reunite for their adoptive dad’s miserable funeral, they’re informed that the end of the world is eight days away, and they’re the only ones who can stop it.

This 10-episode season takes its time building tension, mysteries, and lots of emotion, but is still packed to the brim with payoff. Each character is compelling, from the homosexual junkie who can speak to the dead to the time-travelling 12-year-old to the talking-ape-butler, they each have their own stories and own motives, and every reason for their existence is explained eventually. There are some themes that I wish would’ve been explored more, or things that would’ve been shown and not told, but there will most-likely be a second season for all of that stuff.

The actors in this show are relatively unknown, but all give wonderful, fiery performances, especially Klaus (Robert Sheehan), the aforementioned homosexual addict who speaks to the dead, and Number Five (Aidan Gallagher), the time travelling 12-year-old I mentioned before. It may be because they’re both given the most development, but I think they’re just super gifted and it’s great to see them shine. The cast isn’t only unknown actors though. Big names like Mary J. Blige and Ellen Page are featured, but it’s already known to most how great they are.

Perhaps the biggest highlights of the show are the soundtrack and the cinematography. The soundtrack has popular songs from artists such as Queen, and more less-known music from artists like Big Thief. All of the music fits what’s going on in the scenes in which they’re played. Even looking at the lyrics that weren’t played on the show, the songs fit just right. The cinematography, filled with wide action shots and small Wes-Anderson like shots, is truly something else. The colors are a little drained, but it fits the end-of-the-world tone of the show well, just not so much the fun tone of it. Each episode is filled with beautiful shots, nonetheless.

The Umbrella Academy season 1 is something to adore and something that will make anyone want much more of it. It’s a silly, but serious show. It’s all over the place but in a good way that really works. Relationships are built and broken, mysteries are investigated and solved, plot is introduced and payed-off. The Umbrella Academy leaves much more mystery to be solved though, and deserves a second season more than lots of Netflix shows do. It leaves much to be desired, in the best way possible. I give it ⅘ stars.

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