It’s that time once more, Marvel has released a new film and it’s all about a different type of superbeing. This time audiences are being introduced to the Eternals in the appropriately titled film Eternals. This film is directed by Chloé Zhao the director of Oscar-winning Nomadland.
The film stars an oddball ensemble of up and comers and as well as established names. The cast includes Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie.
These immortal beings are tasked by the Celestial Arishem to destroy the Deviants on Earth to ensure the survival of humanity. Along the way, they have to deal with the twists and turns of their immortal lives on Earth and what happens when a new type of Deviant appears that begins a titanic shift in their lives.
In seven days God prepared to destroy man
Eternals is a fascinating film. Director Zhao is given the unenviable task to introduce not only ten complex individual beings that warrant their own stories but also a whole new cinematic echo system to the already overstuffed MCU. Thankfully this film has nothing to do with the Multiverse of Madness that Marvel is building at the moment. It is instead something else divorced of that entirely.
It deals with beings teased in a previous film (Guardians of the Galaxy) and their machinations. The Eternals as a concept are strange and they should be wonderful. These are insanely powerful beings that hold Earth in the palm of their hand but they are shackled by duty.
They are angels answering to a literal god and looking back Zhao deals with this part of the film quite well. It is sadly the rest of the film that is less than impressive. As I stated earlier each of these characters warrant a story of their very own so the film takes too much time to explain their origin as a group so they don’t feel as fleshed out as individuals. There is also the clashing element of the length of the film. It is the longest MCU film at 157 minutes long. It simultaneously isn’t long enough to explore these characters while also taking too long to get to the meat of the story.
There are also surprisingly drab colours. Usually, a Marvel film is resplendent with colour. However, in Eternals, the colours are surprisingly mutated for the costumes of the titular heroes and their powers. There are rare moments, for example, when Arishem appears to his children but that is really it. The film is also scored to within an inch of its life. It is quite emotional and grand. It suits the world these godlike beings live in.
You can’t protect any of them
The film also falters where many MCU films falter, in its villain. In fact, if the film were to erase the villain it would be better for it. The villain’s motivation is rudimentary and their presence is barely felt throughout the film. Thankfully the third act of the film is quite interesting in its execution but it doesn’t save the film in any way.
Ultimately Eternals is shot well and has a powerful score but it is underpinned by a lack of depth to its multitude of characters. There are however a lot of interesting moments in this film dotted throughout. The film is also elevated at times by some of its cast. A particular highlight for me was the moral ambiguity of Barry Keoghan’s Druig, a being who can control minds. He takes issue with the hands-off approach the Eternals have against the stupidity of mankind especially when he sees how idiotic we can be.
For me, Eternals is an interesting experiment. One that is not particularly successful and that is a shame because there are interesting takeaways from this film.
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