Movie Review: “Eternals”

Jake Heelein (TheLorian)

This last Friday, we saw the release of Marvel’s third film this year, “Eternals.” Coming off the heels of a recent Academy Award win, director Chloe Zhao’s (“Nomadland”) ambitious superhero turn has already proven to be polarizing. Popular online review website Rotten Tomatoes currently places “Eternals” at 47 percent, making it the lowest scoring MCU film. But is the film actually rotten, or did Rotten Tomatoes get this one wrong? Let’s talk about it.

In full truth, this film is… fine? It’s not the worst Marvel property that has been released in the last 10 years, but it is also far from the best. In truth, it is a very average movie. There are flashes of brilliance within the two hours and 37-minute runtime, but more often than not, I found myself asking, “Why should I care about any of these characters?”

In terms of positives, the cinematography is some of the best we’ve ever gotten from a Marvel project. You can easily see Zhao’s creative eye in the film’s framing, story, and characters. While it does take some time for you to care about this new team of heroes, once you do, the film becomes far more interesting and stressful to watch.

The cast is exceptional, and you can tell they’ve all bought into the absurdity of this universe. I want to give special praise to Barry Keoghan’s Druig, Gemma Chan’s Sersi, and Brian Tyree Henry’s Phastos, as they represent the heart of the film. Unlike many Comic Book properties, “Eternals” touches on the themes of mortality and morality, and these three characters do the most heavy-lifting in getting you to understand the weight of these concepts and the stakes they have in our own universe.

With that said, it feels weighed down by the limitations of being a Marvel film. It is such a departure from everything we’ve seen up to this point that it was sometimes difficult to understand how these characters could ever fit into the world of Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man. If you take it as a standalone film it is enjoyable, but when you place it in-universe, it gets a bit messy. It is entertaining enough to keep you interested while watching, but not enough that you will think about it after you’ve left the theatre.

The big question you might be asking is: if I am a huge Marvel fan do I have to watch “Eternals?” To that, I would say this movie is so loosely connected to the MCU that if you wanted to skip it, you could. The end credit scenes offer some hints towards the wider Marvel Universe, but ultimately, you could get that information from a Google search. If the film was 30 minutes shorter, I’d have an easier time outright recommending it to people, but it is a long time investment. What I will say is that if you’ve got three hours to spare and you’re a fan of this universe or Chloe Zhao’s previous work, give it a watch. But if you saw the trailers and thought, “I won’t enjoy this movie,” you’re probably right.

Final Score- 5.5/10

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