Series of the week: The Umbrella Academy
What would you do if you’d been born without being conceived, adopted by a tyrannical billionaire and been given superpowers with which you’d need to save the world from impending doom in just eight days? A good question. But not one we mere mortals would have to face in this or any other lifetime (probably).
The premise of The Umbrella Academy is certainly one that drives its appeal, both in its original comic book form and now as a full-blown Netflix interpretation of My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way’s flight of fantasy.
From its wholly innocent beginnings in a Russian swimming pool, the series soon erupts into a sinister yet weirdly humourous tale of nature versus nature, the comedic turns played out primarily by Robert Sheehan’s deviant, somewhat Jack Sparrow persona of Klaus (aka Number Four, aka The Séance).
After 43 women instantly and inexplicably give birth to children on the same day in 1989, said billionaire, Sir Reginald Hargreaves (Colm Feore) sets about paying off as many of them as he can, rustling up some sort of ‘magnificent seven’ with which he hopes to spare Earth from impending doom.
Having gone their separate ways (one’s a movie star, another a leading violinist, another an astronaut banished to the Moon), the adopted septet are reunited (in the loosest sense possible) by Sir Reginald’s apparently innocent death. However, Number One – the impossibly muscle-bound spaceman Luther (Tom Hopper) suspects something is amiss, taking it upon himself to play a game of J’accuse with his siblings.
Having proved her silver-screen skills in 2017’s Mudbound, Mary J. Blige produces an impressive turn as Cha-Cha, an assassin on a mission to take out the time-travelling Number Five (Aidan Gallagher).
With flashbacks and superhero powers aplenty, The Umbrella Academy stays true to Way’s initial vision, surely making fans of the comic book thankful that this tale wasn’t condensed into a singular film as was originally planned.
As you’d expect from a series dreamt up by a rock star, the soundtrack is pretty impressive (even if you detest Belinda Carlisle), driven by former Tonic guitarist Jeff Russo, whose work on the TV reworking of Fargo garnered much praise.
As for the plot itself, familial dysfunction is key, but here’s hoping they can pull together.
Available now on Netflix.
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