Difficult to be members of a large family, especially when you and your brothers have been adopted by an eccentric billionaire scientist who brought you to his house with the sole purpose of testing your peculiar skills. Not to mention the fact of being forced to become a group of superheroes under the name of "Umbrella Academy" and then find themselves in cause the end of the world. There are positives, however: do not consider for a moment that you have stepped on the Commission that controls the correct progress of the space-time continuum and we overlook the fact that the lunar asteroid that crashed on both the earth and the work of your sister Vanya , the family is reunited again and thanks to your brother Five you have escaped the great one tree jumping in time before dying terribly ... what can go wrong again?
Oh my God, we're back again
The second season of The Umbrella Academy picks up exactly where the previous one left off, with the Hargreeves brothers intent on escaping an irreversibly compromised time-line, managing to save themselves and the whole world for broken headphones. The complete family is therefore found projected in the 60s, in that of Dallas. Years full of character and charm, if only the apocalypse, this time personified by a candid rain of atomic warheads, seems to have reached the Umbrella Academy also in this timeline. Not all is lost, however, after having witnessed (again) the end of the world, thanks to his powers Five manages to jump back a week, with the aim of reuniting and alerting his family to prevent (again!) The destruction of the planet. It is not a simple task to reunite the Hargreeves family, even less to make them think: every member of the bizarre family has in fact a strong propensity to get into trouble, to entertain dangerous bonds, not excessively perhaps but enough to affect the correct execution of the events. It is therefore very probable that the mere presence of the Umbrella Academy outside their home time could trigger a nefarious chain of events.
If reading these lines run into a sense of Already seen, rest assured, you are not alone. The desire to place the protagonists in a sort of vicious temporal circle with a destructive outcome is certainly desired by the writers, yet during the course of the vision the attention can only drop in front of a canvas from the flavor very similar to that of the first season. Furthermore, the unfolding of the plot appears at times to be too diluted, weakening the rhythm of the episodes. The smoothness of the series is not totally penalized: the ten episodes are overall fluid and keep the interest alive, but more thanks to the supporting actors than to the unfolding of the events involving them. If the first season in short managed to have an excellent fluidity juggling many events and successful subplots, this second season loses its edge and can not replicate the excellent result obtained with past episodes.
Although it makes little sense to compare the original material from which the Steve Blackman series draws inspiration from the series itself, it is good to note that the first season of Umbrella Academy went to fish characters and themes from the first two volumes of the comic, managing to weave them wisely and finding space to add some totally new meat to the fire and it is very strange therefore that this second season decides to rely only on about ten pages always belonging to the second volume and completely or almost completely ignoring the rest of the imaginative work of Gerard Way and Grabriel Bà. Not that the authors should feel compelled in any way to follow in the footsteps of the graphic novel by Dark Horse, but it is clear that there were some difficulties in terms of production in terms of writing and it would certainly have been helpful to continue adapting the narrative cues of the comic in a declination suitable for the television counterpart.
7 is the perfect number
What the show continues to do well enough is the treatment of personalitiesthe. This is no small feat because the paper counterpart, to date at least, has never focused much on profoundly outlining the Hargreeves family, while the TV series has proven to be able to create quite solid brackgrounds for each of the brothers and sisters who make up the Umbrella Academy. Despite some stumbling blocks and some more neglected characters (Luther above all), even in these new ten episodes it is easy to empathize with the supporting actors, thanks also to the performances of the actors ranging from sufficient to excellent. Ellen Page should be the star, being actually the most experienced and famous actress of the lot, and well plays Vanya, who is however clouded by the charisma of Five, who not only is the most successful character and multifaceted, but also one of the best interpreted, thanks to a young but in perfect form Aidan Gallagher who manages to perfectly impersonate a XNUMX-year-old adult forced into the body of a teenager, while Colm Feore brings to the screen an irresistible and magnetic Reginald Hargreeves, despotic foster father by the exceptional intellect that still pursues the nightmares and daydreams of their children. Honorable mention for Robert Sheehan who with Klaus manages to conquer the audience, although obliged to play a part a bit too monotonous. Quantity and quality therefore go hand in hand in this case and despite the defects mentioned above, the series entertains from start to finish thanks to the skill of the cast and the chemistry between the actors, the real pride of the production.
Visually, this season it affects less of the previous one, but remains properly packaged in almost all fields. The pastel colors and a good construction of the scenographies, although all too small, manage to convey the atmosphere of an America in its early 60s, going to touch characters and themes of the time, sometimes even simply touching them but looking for, and almost always succeeding in deluding the viewer that they have actually traveled through time. This second batch of episodes, however, does not forget the more histrionic and absurd tone that characterizes the series, inserting exaggerated and deliberately grotesque elements in a wise but all too restrained manner. It would be really desirable for the future of the series to be able to find a fair balance on this front, to be able to find its full square and permanently pierce the screen.
Ironic and more epic tones merge consistently: the super-heroic cut remains, but at the same time it never takes itself completely seriously, with gags that break the rhythm, even too often, during tension scenes. A greater care in the action scenes would be appreciated, which are also too repetitive and mechanical in almost all cases, but still remaining well implemented and distributed during the work. The same cannot be said of the most intimate or emotional scenes that too often follow a standardized pattern and characterized by a famous musical success in the background, but almost overwhelming towards the script, and an all too free use of slow-motion, making these moments that are too fine in themselves and able to lengthen the minutage than to describe characters or situations, together with a series of special effects and shaky CGI. The Umbrella Academy, however, manages to be more than the sum of its parts also in this sense, delivering to the public a product absolutely not without defects but still more than enjoyable.
Unfortunately, the second season of The Umbrella Academy does not fully convince, the plot is all too linear, despite playing again with time travel, with the exception of some well managed twists and original solutions which, especially in the final, will be able to keep up the curiosity for the - probable - third season. Whether you are a fan of the comic or not, you will find it very predictable for most of the time and there will be less flicks of ingenuity than in the first season, yet there is no shortage of scenes and exchanges of really guessed jokes, never really perfect or wisely calibrated as in the past, but always able to entertain. What is certain is that the potential of the serial is not properly exploited and even if some important narrative knots unfold, one has the perception that nothing really moves and remains all too static, giving the feeling that "a lot of noise is made for nothing". A real shame because characters and situations would have much more to say than what appears in this second television version of The Umbrella Academy.
In any case, what is most interesting when it comes to the theme of superheroes is what is hidden under the mask, in the alter ego that lives everyday life through its most human and fragile aspect and in this the Netflix series still manages very well, making the characters much less "super" but somehow much more "heroes". The less brilliant writing of this season is therefore counterbalanced by the charm and strength of the Hargreeves family, which manages to save not only the Earth but also the whole series.