‘Eternals’ Review

To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, Eternals is an epic superhero film based on the Marvel Comics characters of the same name. It is the 26th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and the third film in their Phase Four slate. The film was directed by Chloé Zhao and stars an ensemble cast including Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, Harish Patel, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek, and Angelina Jolie. Set sometime after the events of Avengers: Endgame, the film follows the Eternals, an immortal alien race sent by the Celestials to protect Earth from their evil counterparts, the Deviants. When more advanced Deviants appear in modern times the Eternals must regroup after spending centuries apart and save the planet from certain doom.

Eternals certainly feels different than any other film in the MCU and is by far the best-looking. Chloé Zhao makes use of natural lighting and practical effects in lieu of the typical CGI. There is a sensation of warmth and energy that separates it from the typical comic book film. This is also one of the few MCU films where the score matters. In previous films, the score sounds more like elevator music. It plays in the background and it’s not very memorable. However, in Eternals, the score elevates every scene. Every kiss, every hug, every tear feels as important as every energy blast, explosion, or punch. The typical MCU humor is still present throughout and it doesn’t distract too much from Chloé Zhao’s style.

This is also the most well-acted MCU film since Black Panther. The standouts are Gemma Chan, Kumail Nanjiani, and Brian Tyree Henry. The latter two provide much of the film’s comedy. Each Eternal is given enough screen time for them to truly feel like they are a family and team. Their stories are told via flashbacks which explain key events in history they have witnessed or feel responsible for. More flashbacks would have been welcome, but it’s understandable considering the already long runtime. Eternals is ambitious in trying to explain so much in what in this amount of time but does not manage to answer all the questions that it presents. Zhao also brings an element of humanity to this film that you have not seen before. In Avengers: Endgame and Loki there are insinuations to LGBTQIA+ characters but in Eternals, they show Phastos (Henry) living with and kissing his husband. There is also a scene where Sersi (Chan) and Ikaris (Madden) make love on the beach which is shown as a more passionate affair than the one-night stand Tony Stark had in Iron Man. Scenes of this nature were previously only shown in the Marvel Netflix series and feel somewhat out of place but not enough to clash with the MCU formula.

A lot of inspiration is pulled right out of the comics which doesn’t always translate well in the film. Such as a character that appears who is supposed to be related to another character seen in previous MCU phases. While they are related in the comics it has never been mentioned until now and will be most likely retconned in future stories. Additionally, the Eternals each have different powers to help complete their mission on Earth. This works in the comics and the aspect that superheroes having singular powers helps to differentiate them from each other but here the logic makes no sense. For the most part, the Eternals are shown to be more powerful than humans but nowhere near as strong as Hulk or Thor with the ability to manipulate celestial energy. The common excuse is that the characters have these abilities to help the director tell the story they want to tell, but you cannot completely throw logic out of the window in the grand scheme. First, there is Makari (Ridloff) who is the super-fast deaf Eternal. It makes no sense for the Celestials to make an Eternal deaf. Next, there is Sprite (McHugh) the child-like Eternal who can create illusions. It makes no sense for an Eternal to be a child. This is even more mind-boggling when you have an Eternal with the ability to fix these issues. There is also the issue of their humanity. Having human emotions wants, and needs make them far from the perfect beings the Celestials describe them as. If they were sent there to do a specific job why are they given such autonomy?

The plot is somewhat weak with the Deviants feeling unnecessary for the main story. They mostly appear in flashbacks as cannon fodder for the Eternals to kill. Not to give anything away but there is a plotline with the Deviants reappearing in modern time that feels unfulfilling. This is because the identity of the final villain is telegraphed throughout the entire film from the first moment the character appears. The story is supposed to make viewers feel that everything that has happened in the MCU so far is small potatoes due to the presence of the Celestials, but Loki does a better job at that with the TVA and He Who Remains. The inclusion of Dane Whitman (Harington) also feels unnecessary. He is nothing more than an extended cameo providing an Easter egg for fans of the comic that know he will become Black Knight. There does seem to be a storyline involving him reconnecting with an uncle that was cut so there is only a little mention of who he is outside of dating Sersi.

Eternals is currently the second-longest film in the MCU and tries very hard to pack in so much information in its runtime, but unfortunately, it doesn’t stick the landing. The ending feels rushed especially after a story that spans millenniums. I give Eternals a Decent 7/10. Introducing this many new characters and ideas into the MCU may have worked better as a limited or full series on Disney+.


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