The Umbrella Academy: a magical mystery tour of misfits.
If the dysfunctional family, often cobbled together through adoption agencies, the foster care system (Shazam) or just picking up babies after an extermination event (Locke & Key), Umbrella Academy, the Netflix series reinforces that trend. Umbrella Academy proves a magical mystery tour of misfits. And of course, this disaffected little band must save the world.
This comic-inspired series draws on the Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance) and Brazilian comic book artist Gabriel Ba’s Dark Horse limited series. This isn’t just our world populated by a few one-off superheroes, this is a world that owns its shit across time and space.
The plot takes around the fallout from the death of Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Fiore), a wealthy, taskmaster who brought together seven children of immaculate conception taking place on the same day in 1989.
The parenting experience becomes the “Umbrella Academy” has Hargreeves trains up his new wards to fight crime, aided by his wife (Jordan Claire Robbins) and his chimpanzee confidant Pogo (Adam Godley).
The audience discovers the powers held by each initially seemingly normal, grieving or estranged child numbered One through Seven in a series of well-orchestrated reveals.
We immediately feel for Vanya (Ellen Page) the girl out of favor as she brings now powers to the Umbrella Academy party. Other powers among the children include super-strength, knife-throwing, rumor nurturing, seeing dead people and time travel. And a few other recurring characters, most notably Mary J. Blige’s time-traveling assassin Cha Cha.
The basic tension comes from the children, freed from their father’s ambitious vision for them, must find connections to each other, and to the world, that creates meaning out of their chaotic and overly controlled youth. No specials powers arise to help them find their way forward. They must rely on the tried and true of family communication, confrontation and reconciliation.
Music and movie magic makes Umbrella Academy sing with visual and auditory delight. Effects laden scenes entice and thrill, revealing details about lives and attitudes without huge exposition. Show master magician Steve Blackman gets visual storytelling.
I highly recommend Umbrella Academy as a departure from comic-inspired material that may seem overly familiar or worn around the edges. I suggest immersion, with a good pair of headphones to connect you directly to the musical blood that infuses the action as well as the quiet moments among the shattered lives of One through Seven.
If you connect with the Hargreeves or not, you will definitely want to find their playlist (found here, BTW, on Amazon Music).
The Umbrella Acadamy, on Netflix, stars Starring: Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, Emmy Raver-Lampman, David Castaneda, Aidan Gallagher, Robert Sheehan, Mary J. Blige, Cameron Britton, Colm Fiore.
Here is the playlist from Amazon Prime Music.
- I Think We’re Alone Now by Tiffany
- I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor
- Can’t Take My Eyes Off You by Tina Charles
- Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood by Eric Burdon
- End of the World by Miss Sammy J
- Titanium by Calli Malpas
- Everybody Hurts by The NoReasons
- My Sweet Lord by Jem
- I Am What I Am by Gloria Gaynor
- Dance Little Lady Dance by Tina Charles
- You To Me Are Everything by The Real Thing
- The Drugs Don’t Work by Alixandrea Corvyn
- Mad World by Voidoid
- Eve Of Destruction by Pussy Revolution
- Mardy Bum by Bleach
- This Used to Be My Playground by Pixie Killz
- Blue Monday by Electronik
- Wicked Game by Miss Sammy J
- Cocaine by Blind Faith Collective
- Dancing In The Moonlight by City Solution
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- inc. w/ subscription