Movie Review: The Eternals (2021)


Title: The Eternals
Release Date: November 5, 2021
Director: Chloé Zhao
Production Company: Marvel Studios
Summary/Review:

Eternals is the story of the immortal alien race known as Eternals sent to Earth to fight the Deviants by the ginormous Celestial Arishem.  Over several millennia, the Eternals fight the deviants and defend human civilization.  Eventually the group of ten dissolves and blend into human society in various parts of the world. The main story is set in the present day and involves the Eternal Sersi (Gemma Chan) “getting the band back together” when a new threat from the Deviants emerges.  Along the way they make some startling discoveries about the truth of their existence, and face split opinions of how they should react to it in factions lead by Sersi and Ikaris (Richard Madden).

The biggest flaw of this movie is that it is way too long as it tries squeeze in a whole lot of exposition, world-building, and the stories of ten protagonists plus many supporting characters and antagonists.  For a character-driven movie I feel that we really don’t to get enough time to know the characters, who are interesting in their own ways but mostly get short shrift.  Perhaps some sweeping landscape pans and a gratuitous sex scene could’ve been cut for some character development. I liked a lot of the characters, especially Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Lia McHugh as Sprite,  Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, and Lauren Ridloff as Makkari, and really wanted to know more about them. I’m pretty sure Eternals was in production well before the launch of Disney+, but I feel that a lot of the problems could have been addressed by making it a short-form tv series.

Nevertheless, it is a solid film in it’s own right.  It feels more grownup than other Marvel films without being dour and humorless. The film has an interesting theological theme under the story of the Celestials and the purpose of the Eternals.  I didn’t like how the Eternals were shown influencing the technology and mythology of human civilizations because that rings too much of the Ancient Aliens canard, but I did like that parts of the movie are set among ancient civilizations of Babylonia, India, and the Aztecs among others. The movie is largely unconnected from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (although they do make a few mentions of what the Avengers are up to) so it could be a good film for people who have not watched any of the other films.

I feel in a year where Marvel has released classics like WandaVision, Loki, and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, that Eternals isn’t quite up to par.  Nevertheless it’s a solid if imperfect superhero journey in its own right.

Rating: ***

MASTER LIST OF MCU REVIEWS

 

Your comments are welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.