The Umbrella Academy dropped on Netflix on the 15th of February 2019 and I instantly knew that it was a different kind of show. Many TV shows and movies deviate heavily from the mood and tone that their trailers give off; however, The Umbrella Academy is one of those shows where the trailer is a direct look into the quality and themes of the rest of the show.
Based on the comic of the same name, The Umbrella Academy follows the adopted Hargreeve siblings, 7 of the 43 children all born on the same day under irregular circumstances. Their mothers were not pregnant when the day began. The billionaire Reginald Hargreeve ‘purchased’ or ‘adopted’ 7 of these children, believing that they had special powers. How and why he suspected that, is still a mystery.
The show ran 10 1-hour episodes for its first season and the plot was a good one. The show puts a unique twist on the Superhero TV show genre, as the Hargreeve siblings, or ‘The Umbrella Academy’, are emotionally unstable and very fractured. The Umbrella Academy picks up when the children are adults, in their 30’s I believe, and tells the tale of them reuniting due to the death of their father, Reginald Hargreeves. All the children had their own issues and complicated relationships with their father due to how he treated them as children; although as he hints later in the series that the children just enjoy blaming everything on him, there may be more to the story.
Over the 10 episodes, the story was divided very equally and only felt to speed up a little towards the end. Each episode felt like it told its own story which pieced together at the end to form a greater picture which was more than each individual story. It seemed to convey the idea of ‘strength in numbers’ which was the premise of this dysfunctional group of superheroes as well. The story of The Umbrella Academy is unlike any other that I have come across and raises many questions about life throughout its run and is a genuine refresher from the regular superhero story. It is a thoroughly enjoyable ride through the show and each character receives their own storylines which amazing. The pacing is almost perfect, the only issue I would like resolved is that I feel like it could be sped up a little. But overall, the story is great with a great villain, considering the fact that it doesn’t technically have a villain. The Commission may be trying to prevent the siblings from achieving their goal but they aren’t doing it to directly oppose them. Five hopping between the Commission and the Academy is a really interesting plot point and the best thing about it is that it is done in moderation, to maximise the effect on the plot and not make it feel boring and stretched out. The absence of a clear villain is another thing which makes this show’s story that good. A large variety of storytelling techniques and methodology when revealing a plot point to the audience, setting up a sombre scene, or discussing the major emotional trauma and issues the characters have and maybe resolving them, are masterfully used, making this show truly unique in its own way.
The characters in The Umbrella Academy are a wide variety of personalities which have been shaped by their stunted upbringing and experience in the world. All in all, the 6 Hargreeve siblings that have active presences in the storyline change greatly over the course of the show to overcome whatever addictions and mental issues they have. Five and Klaus have the best character arcs in my opinion and the rest of the Hargreeve siblings also have really good development, just not as good. Hazel and Cha-Cha are other characters which also have a multitude of different arcs throughout the show and their changing relationship and Hazel’s eventual realisation is a very satisfying storyline.
Each episode of The Umbrella Academy feels longer than it actually is, and felt almost like a movie every episode. This just gives props to the production quality, CGI and acting, which were all superb. The show has a great cast who all felt very suited to their roles and acted their parts very well.
When one talks about The Umbrella Academy it would be a crime to not talk about the soundtrack for the show. By far, this would be the greatest TV show soundtrack that I have ever listened to. With songs like ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ from Queen and ‘Istanbul’ by They Might Be Giants, The Umbrella Academy effectively uses the plentiful soundtrack to its maximum effect. The combination of the songs and slow motion for the fight scenes, as well as the sombre music when Five is in the Apocalypse and in other saddening scenes or in the build up to them like a reveal, is insane. By far the greatest thing about the show is how it uses and chooses its soundtrack and I believe that every movie and TV show should learn from how Netflix has done sound in this show.
The Umbrella Academy is a new take on the superhero TV genre that provides a different insight into the lives of a very different type of superhero. Its complex moral dilemmas and emotional dysfunction create an interesting story which is paced decently. The production quality is high but some parts feel a bit lacklustre. The acting is good and the CGI is brilliant. Probably the best part of the show is the amazing soundtrack and its use, although the use of slow motion can break the rhythm. It is definitely worth a watch.
Final Score: Superhero? (8.7/10)
If you would like to read the rest of our TV Show reviews head to https://thefilmconsole.com/category/tv-reviews