Movie #221 2021: Eternals (2021)

It has been pretty well documented that Rotten Tomatoes critics hated this movie. In fact, as of writing, it only has a 48% critics score, in comparison to, say, Captain America: Civil War, which has a 90% critical approval rating. Thankfully, the audience score over there soars at 80%, which – although not brilliant – lands with a higher mark than other Marvel ventures, such as Captain Marvel (with a 45% audience score), Ant-Man and the Wasp (75%) and Thor: The Dark World (75%). The thing about me as a reviewer is… I kind of love all of the movies I just mentioned. Except maybe The Dark World. Basically – as you’ll know if you follow me on Letterboxd – I simply live life half full rather than half empty, and try to see the good in most things rather than pander to the negatives.

Directed by current Hollywood superstar Chloe Zhao, Eternals is a Marvel movie based on the comics by Jack Kirby. Yes, as you may have heard, it’s a little bit different to much of the rest of the Marvel catalogue; it’s filled with lore, history, romance, and character study, and some people hate that about it. I personally think that it was time for the studio to do something different, so I honestly have no complaints about any of the themes I just mentioned.

Eternals' Box Office Ends Marvel's Straight “A” Winning Streak – The  Hollywood Reporter

But who are The Eternals? To put it briefly, they’re a group of ancient warrior aliens who have been secretly living on Earth for centuries. Their sole purpose is to protect planets from a race of enemies known as ‘Deviants’, and whilst they think they eliminated all of them years ago, their foes re-emerge in full force, first in present day London, and then across the world.

Okay to begin, no spoilers but… did Salma Hayek just confirm that Thanos was… right? Yikes. I guess you’ll have to watch the movie to unscramble that sentence.

Confirmed: I don’t understand the average to poor reviews Eternals is getting. I know I’ve already covered this but it bears repeating. Is it my favourite MCU movie? No, but I’m still obsessed with Chloe Zhao’s filmmaking. Some have criticised her part in this, as they see it as “not superhero-y enough”, but I’m the opposite. If anything, I just wanted it to be more Chloe. The way she captures a sunrise is breathtakingly masterful, and while this is certainly no Nomadland, there are little flecks of her brilliance within Eternals that will make you nod and say “yep, that’s a Chloe-ism.”

Eternals memes: Why didn't the Eternals help the Avengers fight Thanos? -  CNET

Did it need to be so long? Actually, it didn’t. But was I bored for a single second? That’s another no. For me, all of the background and lore was completely necessary – we’ve never been here before, unless you’ve read the comics. What should have been edited down slightly was the whole “Eternals Assemble” section in the second act; we didn’t need to see them all coming back together in such depth. Even then, it was never tedious. And the final battle was quite spectacular, all in all. 

On top of the detailed plot, this film boasts some inspired casting for the most part. Gemma Chan? Brilliant. Angelina Jolie? A joy to watch and my favourite character by far. Brian Tyree Henry and Ma Dong-seok (also known as Don Lee) were also standouts. The only thing that didn’t work for me was the insertion of Kumail Nanjiani. (Don’t kill me, I still love him.) He was clearly put there for some sort of comic relief, but I just didn’t feel like this movie needed any of that. Instead of seeing Kingo, I just saw Kumail, and that was distracting more than anything, charming as he may be. 

Overall though, I felt really immersed and interested in this story. Whilst I won’t be in a rush to watch it again (mainly due to the length), I’m really intrigued to see how these characters will fit into the wider MCU, Kit Harington aside. No offence to him, I’m just not that fussed about whatever’s going on there…

Eternals is currently being screened at the majority of the cinemas in the UK.

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