Photo By: Noah Nickel via IMDB
Eternals is the latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Its release coincides with the addition of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings to Disney+. This is proving to be tough competition for Eternals, as Shang-Chi has been met with very positive reactions from audiences and critics and ultimately is a far more enjoyable watch than Eternals.
Eternals takes place after the action of Avengers: End Game and fits awkwardly into the overarching narrative of the interconnected universe of Marvel films. It seems to be imitating the tone and style of the Spider-Man movies, which are highly contemporary while still heroic and often touching, but it falls short of living up to the other films that it references. It often feels as though the writers think that by reminding the audience that it is a Marvel film, they will trick us into thinking it is good.
The premise is hard to get behind and the story is awkwardly paced, making it tricky to get invested in no matter how good the actors are. It is important to note that all of the actors are good in this movie; it’s a star-studded cast and the performers are very much doing their best with the sub-par script they’ve been given.
Director Chloe Zhao has worked on excellent movies like Nomadland, so she can clearly make good movies. It’s possible that Disney’s superhero formula is just running out of potential, because Eternals feels like a soulless cash grab with very little depth or thought put into the writing.
Perhaps it’s not entirely soulless, and there are some things to enjoy, but it often feels as though, in the case of some superhero movies, they spend a ton of money on good actors and special effects and virtually no time coming up with a decent script. Eternals sadly falls into that camp.
The fight scenes are nothing special and most of the movie is incredibly dialogue-heavy for a superhero movie, opting for telling over showing at every turn. The exposition is awkward, as it will often bring the movie to a complete halt, ruining the pacing.
The individual parts of this movie should work, but they come together as uninspired and dry. Drawing on folklore and mythology to create an ensemble of immortal heroes is clever and interesting, but they just don’t seem to belong in the MCU. While they’re so powerful, their reasons for not interfering in human conflict are weak and frustrating. The premise could have worked if it had been thought through more fully or set outside of the MCU, instead of being shoved in-between the more successful films in the franchise. There’s a lot of potential and the most frustrating thing about the movie is seeing how that potential is wasted.
As an ensemble piece the writing of the characters as a unit is unsuccessful. There are a handful of characters who are interesting, but spend most scenes silently nodding along as the more important characters carry the scenes. Kumail Nanjiani plays Kingo, an eternal who mainly serves as comedic relief, and like the rest of the cast he delivers a sincere performance, even though his jokes fall flat and don’t match the already confused tone of the rest of the movie.
Overall, it’s probably worth it to skip Eternals and check out any other Marvel movie, or just give up on superhero movies all together, because at this point it feels as though once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.