With the unprecedented partnership between Marvel TV, ABC Studios, and IMAX that went into making Inhumans, MCU fans have the opportunity to see a television show that was shot using IMAX cameras premiere in IMAX theaters. And while the prospect may seem like a tempting one, it’s worth exploring whether the ticket price is worth it considering the show will arrive on TV later this month. So, is Inhumans worth seeing in IMAX? In a word: no.
Rather than send you on your way, however, it’s worth examining this unusual undertaking that sounds wonderful on paper but fails to deliver. A big part of the issue is in the general failings of Inhumans as a television show and comic book adaptation, making the prospect of paying a premium ticket price already questionable. But for those who enjoy the IMAX format and are hoping to experience a Marvel television series in a new way, you’ll find yourself sorely disappointed by the results.
Inhumans doesn’t just suffer from narrative, directorial, and acting shortcomings, but an utterly unimpressive visual palette. And while we were told the effects from the trailers weren't finished, they remain virtually unchanged in the final product. Sadly, both the IMAX format and the lush Hawaiian setting of many of the show’s scenes fail to make it an engaging series, let alone a premium-theater-going experience.
IMAX is one of many ways the movie theater industry is attempting to counteract the decline in sales that have arisen as a result of so much on-demand media. They’re not the only large format theater chain or camera company, but their certainly the most well-known. As a result, more and more blockbusters over the years have begun releasing in IMAX theaters, often with scenes in the film shot using IMAX cameras.
For a great recent example from Marvel Studios, James Gunn used IMAX cameras to shoot a number of scenes in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Seeing that film in IMAX theaters, a number of the wide shots look uncanny as a result. It also proves that IMAX is hardly just for film buffs, as the added visual depth and the audio experience in the theaters can add something new to a project. Sadly, Inhumans squanders both the format and budget possibilities.
IMAX co-financed the pilot, but it’s unclear where the money went. The best guess is on Lockjaw, who is easily the only impressive visual element of the show. Though there’s plenty of cinematic, sweeping shots of settings in Oahu, nothing about the direction or cinematography of the series makes the IMAX format seem evident. Add in paltry special effects throughout, from Medusa’s hair to Black Bolt’s grunts, and you’d be hard-pressed to figure out where the price of your ticket went.
The show also suffers from sloppy directing, particularly evident in the extreme overuse of slow-motion for scenes where the effect is entirely unmerited. One scene in particular, teased in a recent trailer, involves Maximus using an electric razor to shave Medusa’s head in slow motion while melodramatic music plays. Like so many other scenes in the first two episodes of the IMAX-shot series, it seems to scream ‘this is epic!’ without actually inspiring any awe.
Marvel’s Inhumans is currently playing in IMAX. It premieres on ABC Friday, September 29 @ 9pm.