7,000 years ago, Arishem, a member of the cosmic God-like beings known as The Celestials, created the Eternals, human-like beings who never age, are immortal, and have superhuman abilities, to protect humanity from the Deviants, a species of monstrous creatures who are animal-like in both their behavior and appearance (think The Mimics from The Edge of Tomorrow or Samael from the 2004 Hellboy film)
Eventually, believing they had successfully vanquished the Deviants, the Eternals went their separate ways. However, in the wake of Avengers: Infinity War and The Blip, the Deviants have returned in a more evolved state and are now dedicated to hunting the Eternals.
Right off the bat, it’s apparent that The Eternals are basically an MCU version of the Justice League.
Ikaris (Richard Madden) has the super strength, ability to fly, and ability to shoot lasers out of his eyes like Superman, Thena (Angelina Jolie) is a shattered memory version of Wonder Woman, and Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) has super speed not unlike The Flash.
The rest of the team pretty much covers every other aspect of battle; Gilgamesh (Don Lee) has gauntlet based super strength, Druig (Barry Keoghan) can control people’s minds, Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) can build or fix anything, Sprite (Lia McHugh) can create any illusion, Kingo (Kumail Nunjiani) can create energy blasts with his fingers, Ajak (Selma Hayek) can heal any wound, and Sersi (Gemma Chan) can change the molecular structure of anything she touches.
The film bounces around various time periods in the past and the present day. It’s eventually revealed why the film delves so far into the Eternals’ past, in what is intended to be an important story element, but it’s fairly easy to guess early on.
Conversely, discovering why the Eternals didn’t attempt to intervene with the whole Thanos situation is also a bit disappointing.
It’s explained in the film to lukewarm results, but the bottom line is that they probably would have defeated him too easily, thus preventing humanity from ‘developing’.
Co-written and directed by Chloe Zhao, the writer and director of three-time Oscar winner Nomadland, Eternals looks like Nomadland in the sense that it seems completely devoid of color other than the handful of cosmic/outer space sequences. The film is littered in browns and greys and the visuals are often difficult to decipher that take place in the darkness or that are covered in shadows.
Further, because of this aesthetic choice, the film doesn’t look like other MCU films, which is both good and bad. It gives the film its own identity and while some will view it as a beauty to behold others will view it as staring at a bucket of rocks for nearly three hours.
Regarding the acting, there’s no way around the fact that it’s just terrible.
There is no chemistry between any of the actors – think of Eddie Redmayne ‘presence’ in Jupiter Ascending, but spread out amongst ten people.
This is painful to admit because Don Lee is great in just about everything, but is almost forgettable here other than the fact that he drops a pie. Harish Patel portrays Karun, a guy that follows Kingo around and films a documentary of the Eternals getting back together. Patel is funny, shows the most personality amongst all the big names on screen, and is genuinely a highlight in an otherwise boring cast.
Arishem and the Deviants are the best parts of Eternals, while the concept of The Emergence and what it might possibly lead to also stands as one of the film’s cooler elements.
What’s interesting about the film is that, despite trying to distance themselves from The Avengers and their war against Thanos, the events in Eternals seem to almost mirror phrases and other events in the MCU.
It could be reading too much into it on my part, but Gilgamesh and Thena’s relationship is fairly similar to Black Widow and Hulk’s, while the dialogue exchange of, “Will this work? It has to,” feels awfully similar to what Captain America says in Infinity War before they try to take the gauntlet from Thanos.
There’s also a sequence that has a similar perspective with similar grim results of the sequence in Infinity War right after the snap.
As promoted by Marvel and various news outlets, Eternals also has the first sex scene in an MCU film, though it’s brief and given way too much credit in the media. Likewise, the homosexual relationship in the film that the internet seemed to be so upset about is harmless, and in actuality one of the only realistic aspects of the film.
Yet, despite all of this, the worst part of Eternals is that it’s just way too long. At over two-and-a-half hours in length and featuring two end credits scenes, audiences are likely to eventually find themselves begging for the film to wrap up and get everything over with.
If you’re a fan of the MCU, you should still see Eternals and form your own opinion on it.
From a personal perspective though, it’s an ugly looking film featuring relatively light action and a cast that is collaboratively horrendous.
To be honest though, it’s a chore to get through.
- Harish Patel
- The Emergence finale
- Awful performances
- Too long
- Bland cinematography