"Eternals" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
I'm extremely frustrated with this one. I really wanted to like this movie, I really did. But, when the film ended and the credits started to roll, I was left with a really bad taste in my mouth. If they had fixed many of the character arcs, as well as the plot structure and pacing, this could have been a good film, which makes me really sad since this is what we received.
The movie follows a group of immortal beings called Eternals (Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Gemma Chan, Don Lee, Kumail Nanjiani, Barry Keoghan, Lia McHugh, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry), who have been living in hiding on Earth. After wiping out all the deviants, which are monstrous beings who want to take over Earth, hundreds of thousands of years ago, they think they saved the planet and everything will be fine. However, when these horrible creatures start emerging over the world again, the team must band together and stop whatever is happening on the planet, saving everyone.
"Eternals" tries to set up a whole new group of superheroes to lead the Marvel franchise, and I personally think writer and director Chloé Zhao did a horrible job. And the biggest problem of this whole film? The character's arc and development throughout.
This plot is set up in a very odd manner, with them shooting back and forth between flashbacks and present time. Because of this, it really starts to lose track of where the movie is headed, and really slows down the pacing of this movie. Even though this is one of the longest MCU movies, and has many flashbacks to set up the events for this movie, it doesn't really seem like we get any real character development. It's nearly impossible to relate to these characters, and at the same time, doesn't make them too good of heroes. There were numerous main characters in this movie, and if I'm going to be completely honest, I didn't even like half of them. I couldn't even stand two of them, which is a problem.
Through this odd plot structure, the scenes themselves move very slowly, and it seems like Zhao dragged this movie out for no reason at all. She had just come off major Oscar wins this past year for her film, "Nomadland". Does she think she has something to prove after winning multiples Oscars? I can't say whether she does or not, but I can say she tried way too hard to make this film in a franchise that is completely different. She tried to make these heroes and this story into something it's not.
Another major grievance I have with this movie is the subtle jokes or comments made by some of the heroes and characters. For example, DC properties were mentioned a few times throughout this movie, even going as far to compare some of our heroes in this movie to Superman and Batman. This is extremely frustrating for me. I understand they're trying to be funny, but it doesn't even feel like Zhao has any clue of the separation between the two franchises.
There are a couple of good things in this movie. For example, there is an Indian cameraman that follows the crew around, who is usually pretty funny and provides a lot of the comedic relief in the film. The cinematography is also great, and perhaps the best in any Marvel movie ever released. Yet it is hard to enjoy these things with the other horrible aspects of the movie.
I honestly think it was a mistake to bring in a director like Zhao to make this movie. I would say her vision for this film was horrible, and she practically ruined this movie as a whole, which is extremely disappointing and disheartening as it had the potential to be such a great film. Let's just see where these characters go next, and let's just hope it's much better than this disaster.