Umbrella Academy actors shine against clichéd writing

Photo courtesy of Dark Horse Productions, Wikipedia

“The Umbrella Academy” is the newest web television adaptation to hit Netflix based on the popular comic book seires by Gerard Way (also known as the lead singer of “My Chemical Romance”) and Gabriel Ba. It follows a family of dysfunctional superheroes who are forced to band together to stop an incoming apocalypse.

The family consists of seven children, and now as adults, six of the seven reunite to solve the mystery of their father’s untimely death. The main plot sounds and at times is very cliché, but the characters are the ones that carry the series with their wonderful acting and interesting personalities.

Familiar comic books tropes appear throughout the show, with the exception of a few scenes that stand out positively when compared to the rest. The plot gets bogged down by these tropes occasionally and it doesn't help that characters make decisions only because, "plot."

Umbrella Academy's direction and the cinematography were usually on a very high level, consisting of interesting and often captivating shots that kept pushing the momentum of the scenes forward.

The soundtrack sometimes felt all over the place with upbeat and catchy songs playing throughout most of the fight scenes. Though the choice in music usually ended up elevating the well-choreographed scenes and adding more character, by the end of the season it started feeling like a worn gimmick.

Pacing ends up being the biggest flaw of the series, as is the case with most Netflix TV series, especially the superhero ones. It's a troublesome issue, and even though most viewers expect some form of pace issue from Netflix, it still remains something that needs to be fixed in future Netflix-based projects.

Overall, the whole cast did their job respectively well, but as everything else in this show, the acting still had its ups and downs.

The standouts were Robert Sheehan, who played Number Four/Klaus, and Aidan Gallagher, playing Number Five. Sheehan effortlessly steals every scene he is a part of, and brings in both the funniest and the most emotional moments in the whole season.

His character is also the best written one, resulting in some hilarious moments, as well as some tearjerkers — especially in the second half of the season.

On the other hand, Gallagher, who is only fourteen, had the difficult task of playing a 58-year-old man in a teenager’s body, and he played the role perfectly. Every line he delivers contains an elder tone tinged with anger and sadness, and he holds his own against all the older and more experienced actors.

Other worthwhile mentions are Ellen Page, who plays Number Seven/Vanya with intricate emotion, and Cameron Britton and Mary J. Blige, who play Hazel and Cha-Cha respectively. Both nail their roles bringing much needed soul to their hitmen characters.

The rest of the superhero family and the supporting cast vary from good to questionable, usually depending on the quality of their subplot, which can be captivating, as well as completely boring.

For the fans of the comic book, the show makes some big changes to the story of the source material and some of it's executed extremely well, but other changes are often illogical and pail in comparison to the comic.

The visuals and the acting stand shoulder to shoulder with some of Netflix's best, but the bad pacing and cliché writing is what brings “The Umbrella Academy” down to mediocrity.

3 stars