Movie Review: Eternals (2021)

Directed by the Academy Award winning Chloé Zhao, Eternals is a 2021 superhero action film based on the Marvel Comics team of the same name, and the twenty-sixth entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Having remained hidden on Earth for millennia the titular Eternals, must come out of hiding to battle the Deviants, a race of monsters who wish to destroy humanity. The Eternals include: Ajak (Salma Hayek), the leader of the Eternals, who can heal herself of wounds; Sersi (Gemma Chan), with the power to transmorph non-sentient objects into other things; Ikaris (Richard Madden), Sersi’s former lover, who has the abilities of flight, super strength and laser beam eyes; Thena (Angelina Jolie), able to conjure weapons to compliment her incredible fighting skills; Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani), who can fire energy projectiles out of his hands; Sprite (Lia McHugh), who has the ability to create illusions around her; Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), a genius able to conceptualise, invent and create almost anything; Makkari (Lauren Ridloff), who has super-speed; Druig (Barry Keoghan), who can possess the minds of humans, and; Gilgamesh (Ma Dong-seok, Train to Busan), the physically strongest Eternal who can empower his fists with cosmic energy. Eternals also stars Kit Harrington as Dane Whitman, Sersi’s boyfriend; Harish Patel as Karun, Kingo’s valet; and voice work from both David Kaye and Bill Skarsgard.

+ the titular Eternals can easily be considered an all star cast. Sersi would probably be considered the main character, but all are given a chance to shine with some obviously taking more of a centre stage than others. Gilgamesh, Makkari and Thena were my personal favourites, but I don’t think any of them were negatives for the film over all, as characters or through their acting
+ generally speaking, all of the action is fun, but it’s so CGI heavy that sometimes it can look more like a video game cutscene. Thena’s energy weapons were a real standout, and a testament to Jolie putting in some work to make Thena a total badass. But you should all know by now that someone like Gilgamesh – a big boi smacking shit around with his bare hands – is all I ever really need
+ the opening scene before the title screen, including one of my favourite songs, was the highlight of the movie. If the movie had stopped there, it might be an all time great

– everything that happens is just so boring, and I never felt any real stakes in what they are fighting for. In some ways, this is how all Superman-esque stories go: such powerful characters need to have constantly higher stakes, but at some point they are just so unreal that it’s hard to get invested in it. The solution is then to make the heroes stronger, which means higher stakes, which requires stronger villains, which gives way to the need for stronger heroes, and then it’s all worthless. “When everyone’s super, no one will be”
– the deviants as the antagonists/as a story concept feel entirely wasted or inconsequential to the point where I had written this whole review and forgot to even mention them. They are big CGI monsters that never really do much except break property. Whatever
– the actions and outcomes here create a lot of questions/fridge logic/plot holes in regards to previous movies. The question of where these peeps were when Thanos was wrecking shop does get answered, but it’s more of a handwave than anything. From a real life standpoint, the story structure here just doesn’t work when this is our introduction to these characters, which ties back into my thoughts on how the stakes are just not realistic
– the ending/outcome is coco-bananas bad, and I can’t imagine how the MCU is going to work its way around what happens in this movie. No amount of comic book science can get make this make sense

> I can’t help but note the irony of both Robb Stark (Madden) and Jon Snow (Harrington) being in love with a woman named “Sersi”
> Gemma Chan was already Minn-Erva in Captain Marvel, and I recall wanting to see more of her. I guess I got half of that wish? Are we already at the stage where former MCU actors need to be recycled into new characters?
> the movie references both Batman and Superman, by name. It made me so angry I don’t think I can even put it into words here

Should you see this film: Absolutely not. As I settled into watched this movie, I felt a piece of popcorn wedge its way between my teeth and I spent the remainder of my cinema experience trying to get it out. The highlight of my evening, even with the tease of a post-credits scene or two, was when I finally got that treat dislodged. This movie was bad.

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