Is The Umbrella Academy worth watching: A review
Carolina, who originally hails from Argentina is a movie buff through and through. She enjoys nothing more than binge-watching the latest Netflix series and is a big fan of their 'Originals' line. Her favourite movie is Frozen and she's a big fan of The Good Place & The Dragon Prince.
If you want to watch a new series on Netflix, maybe you should consider The Umbrella Academy, one of the latest additions to the catalogue among the Netflix original series.
Superpowers, time travels, diverse and dysfunctional characters, conspiracies, and top-notch filming quality.
Still not hooked? Let me elaborate (and no spoilers, I promise!).
What’s The Umbrella Academy about?
The Umbrella Academy is based on the comic published by Dark Horse and created and written by Gerard Way. Way happens to be the ex-singer of the rock band My Chemical Romance. It is illustrated by Gabriel Bá.
The story is about a group of seven children with special abilities adopted and raised by the eccentric billionaire Sir Reginald Hargreeves.
The man trained them to be superheroes during their childhood and in their adolescence they fought crime as a team. After twelve years of being separated, the whole family has reunited again due to Hargreeves’ death.
There, the six remaining members of the family face each other, their differences and a new threat: the imminent apocalypse.
Is The Umbrella Academy any good?
In the age of superheroes movies and TV series, where all common tropes are well known, this series is a breath of fresh air.
Although the idea of people with super powers living and training together under the same roof and the teaching of a billionaire (X-MEN), or a family with superpowers working as a superhero team (Fantastic Four) are already known concepts, The Umbrella Academy take this to another level.
It doesn’t focus on the superhero aspect of the characters, but in how they work as a very dysfunctional family, and the complexity and problematic of their relationships.
The real emphasis is on how abusive parents raise very troubled adults that wind up engaging in abusive and toxic behaviours and relationships as a consequence of their upbringing.
Each character in The Umbrella Academy is made of a lot of layers and each one has its role and importance to the story.
New avenues for a tried and tested genre
When the series begins in the present time, there are only five of the original seven members. One of the boys, Ben, died in a mission some years ago, and Number Five, who can to travel through time disappeared when he was 13 years old.
And yes, all of them were identified by numbers by their father who never called by their given names. Even though, Hargreeves’ death is the event that joins them all together again, the sudden appearance of Five coming back from the future is what puts the real story in movement.
A 13 year-boy who isn’t a boy anymore and knows something catastrophic about the future, two villains who are hired assassins travelling through time, and a series of events that are all tangled and fit together like the pieces of a puzzle.
Netflix Originals getting better and better
Netflix has been raising the bar with their original series since the success of both Stranger Things and Sense8.
Their productions aren’t the average TV series you can watch on cable or free to air TV. The budget and the quality are almost at the same level as the ones you can find in a Hollywood production.
Basically, Netlfix’s series are like long movies split into episodes.
The Umbrella Academy works like this. The quality that exudes every episode is excellent. Acting, filming, SFX, script, character development, and music. All working together as a machine.
Comic books adaptations can be tricky sometimes because not always the transition from a medium to another is done properly. But this production has the advantage of having Gerard Way himself as co-writer and co-producer.
Well written and well excuted
The series’ showrunner is Jeremy Slater. I think I can forgive him for writing the terrible Death Note live-action adaptation, or directing the disastrous Fantastic Four’s latest incarnation.
But, as I previously said, having the comic creators among the writers and producers is a significant advantage with the addition of Dark Horse being one of the companies involved in the project. Another interesting name is Steve Blackman, who was in charge of writing the ten episodes and he also has been the executive producer of Altered Carbon, Fargo, and Legion.
Another name coming from these three series is Jeff Russo who composed the music. Russo’s scores have this feeling of epicness and drama that usually is found in movie soundtracks. The Umbrella Academy gives similar vibes to Legion in more than just one occasion. Sharing the same music composer is one of the reasons.
A who’s who of stars
Let’s talk about the cast now.
Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, and David Castañeda head a diverse and talented casting. Ellen Page (Juno, Inception, X-MEN Days of Future Past) as Vanya Hargreeve, the only one from the group who has no superpowers.
She’s a violinist who copes with anxiety disorder due to the trauma of always has been left behind for being ordinary. Tom Hopper (Game of Thrones, Merlin, Black Sails) as Luther Hargreeve also known as Number One. He used to be the team leader and the favourite son among the seven siblings.
David Castañeda (Sicario) as Diego, the one who still is a crime fighter wearing a mask. But in my opinion, the true show stealers are Robert Sheehan (Misfits, Mortal Engines) as Klaus and Aidan Gallagher as Number Five.
Klaus is a junkie who lives stoned to avoid facing his real power: seeing dead people. Number Five is a 13-year-old kid with too many secrets and more life experience than anyone else. And lastly, we have Emmy-Raver-Lampman as Allison whose power is mental manipulation, and she has become a very famous actress.
In conclusion, if you like a good mix of superheroes, action, drama, violence, and weird stuff going on along a great cast, The Umbrella Academy is totally worth watching.