Review – Eternals
Directed by: Chloe Zhao
Produced by: Kevin Feige & Nate Moore
Written by: Chloe Zhao & Patrick Burleigh
Starring: Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie & Salma Hayek
Release Date: November 5th 2021
In the beginning…
Prior to seeing the film, I was excited that I was going to get to review Eternals; Marvel’s latest blockbuster. Although I don’t know a great deal about the Eternals, (I have only read Neil Gaiman’s run and the Manifest Destiny TPB,) I thought this would play to the film’s advantage as I wouldn’t be constantly comparing them to their more powerful comic-book counterparts.
I am a fan of an MCU movie and based on the trailers for Eternals, this outing looked like it could lead to lots of in depth existential analysis and discussion. Unfortunately, that is not really the case.
There were parts of the movie that I did enjoy. The cast did a fine job with what they were given to work with and there were no weak links amongst the new group of heroes. The use of CGI and special effects made for some stunning visuals and certain scenes were damn-near breath-taking to witness on the big screen.
In fact, there are no elements of this film that I would say were quintessentially poor. The direction is serviceable, the performances were fine, the script was okay, the cinematography and lighting were adequate and the musical score was sufficient. The problem is that not one of these aspects blew me away, the whole thing just felt passable.
One thing I did somewhat struggle with was the tone of the movie. This is one of the most straight-faced entries into the MCU so far. It makes sense to use this tone when going for the existential quality that this film strives for when it is discussing godlike eternal beings that have overseen the creation of the universe.
The issue is that the film introduces these ideas and then doesn’t ever commit to following through on them. Instead, it flirts with these deep, mind-boggling concepts and then cuts to yet another CGI laser fight. It is almost as if whenever the movie starts to tap into something more profound, it gets scared and reverts to what it knows as an MCU movie.
The unfortunate result of this non-commitment to what it wants to be results in a somewhat bland, forgettable, safe movie that isn’t much fun to watch. Sure, they attempt to chuck in a few cheesy quips here and there to remind you that you are watching an MCU movie, but Eternals is never anywhere near as much fun as something like Shang-Chi.
Another thing that somewhat took me by surprise was just how disconnected this movie felt from the rest of the MCU. Other than the odd throwaway line referring to Thanos or, ‘The Blip,’ this movie could have taken place at literally any point in the MCU timeline. It would not have mattered one bit if the events of this film took place after the first Avengers, after Civil War, or after Endgame. It would have been near enough the exact same movie.
Some may find that notion refreshing, an MCU movie that you can watch without having seen the prior 20-something films and tie in TV shows. For me though, it just made the whole thing feel redundant to a certain extent. I never felt connected to the characters in the same way that I did with the Avengers heroes and so the stakes here never feel as high.
Overall, I cannot bring myself to give this film a bad rating, because it wasn’t a bad film. In fact, it was a pretty good film that just unfortunately failed to blow me away. Based on the scale of certain aspects of the movie’s plot and the potentially universe-altering stakes on the line, Eternals should have created more of an impact and felt less like an extraneous optional piece of Marvel content.
If you enjoyed Dan’s review of Eternals, you can check out what he thought of Captain Marvel here.
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