ETERNALS

★★

PACKING TOO MUCH INTO THE MCU

THEATRICAL REVIEW
By Chris dos Santos
4th November 2021

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has had hit after hit across the board - every Marvel film, no matter how mediocre, has won at the box office, the critics and, most strongly, the fans. Every single movie was considered a success in some regard... yes, even 2008's long-forgotten 'The Incredible Hulk'. The lowest a Marvel film has received on CinemaScore was a B+ and that was for 'Thor' - that's right, lower than 'Thor: The Dark World'. That film does have the lowest Rotten Tomatoes score at just 66% - so pitiful, poor Marvel. Well, that has all changed. We finally have the MCU's first rotten movie - but is 'Eternals' really that bad?

The Eternals is a group of celestials sent to Earth over 7,000 years ago to protect humans from Deviants. Ajak (Selma Hayek, 'The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard') is the leader who gets instructions from Arishem the Judge (voiced by David Kaye). Sersi (Gemma Chan, 'Raya and the Last Dragon') can manipulate matter, Ikaris (Richard Madden, 'Rocketman') can fly and has laser beam eyes, Kingo (Kumail Nanjani, 'The Big Sick') projects cosmic energy from his hands, Sprite (Lia McHugh, 'Songbird') can create illusions, Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry, 'Godzilla vs. Kong') is an inventor, Druig (Barry Keoghan, 'The Killing Of A Sacred Deer') can manipulate minds, Thena (Angelina Jolie, 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil') can form any weapon from cosmic engery, Makkari (Lauren Ridloff, 'Sound of Metal') has super speed and Gilgamesh (Ma Dong-seok, Netflix's 'Sense8') is strong. For centuries they have kept the Deviants away, but after Thano's snap, they start to return - and the reason for the Eternals' placement on Earth might not be what they originally thought.

SWITCH: 'ETERNALS' TRAILER

Clocking in at 156 minutes, 'Eternals' is one of the longest MCU films... and you feel it. The film overstays its welcome, and a lot of that is to do with the pacing. The film has a lot of ground to cover - firstly introducing us to this new group of characters while the movie also reunites them together, so there's a road trip element while also having a lot of mythology to get through. For the first hour and a half, we are bouncing back and forth between the past and present, and it really tires out the audience. The film also constantly jumps around the globe to every single continent, with no time to settle down in any location or take it in. There's so much that could have been streamlined so as not to feel as draining.

This is not a bad film. In fact, it's nowhere near the bottom of the MCU; bad is the wrong word to use. It's just a long, unengaging watch - they're really pushing that they filmed on location and yes, it looks good, but it's nothing groundbreaking. We have seen so much more beauty from Chloè Zhao (director, 'Nomadland') before. Zhao is a phenomenal director, but superhero films are a different beast, and her talent is completely wasted here.

The cast is also diverse, but they all lack chemistry with each other. Not a single one feels like a family here. Jolie is the standout and is a blast to watch, Madden is just delicious to look at, Nanjiani starts strong but like a lot of this team just melds into the background. Chan is the lead her character is just bland, making it hard to engage with the rest of the cast; she rarely expresses any emotion. Tyree Henry does get a very small pat on the back as the first queer MCU film superhero. It's nothing to scream about but we do get an on-screen kiss, which does make it better than any of Disney's first gay characters - but there's still a long way to go before we get a full-force gay superhero (also, maybe get a queer actor next time, but that's just me). It is very much a case of them feeling like they are doing more than they are. The other actual big win is the first deaf MCU superhero, Makkari, who is portrayed by a deaf actor and actually had a decent amount to do, which is delightful to see.

This is not a bad film, its nowhere near the bottom of MCU, bad is the wrong word to use. It's just a long unengaging watch.

Marvel's successful run was sure to tumble, though 'Iron Man 2', 'Thor: The Dark World', 'Captain Marvel', 'The Incredible Hulk', 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron' are just some MCU films that are certainly worse than 'Eternals'. This film doesn't deserve all the heat it's receiving - it's just kind of boring. I was never mad at it and I just kind of tuned out, but it might start a shift in how cinema-goers feel about Marvel, with audiences starting to feel the fatigue and overload from the studio. It's the problem with having a film studio with everything connected; it's the reason comic books have so many reboots and resets, because there comes a point where it's just been overdone.

However - the post-credits scene with (name redacted) made me scream like a teenage girl in the cinema!

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