Eternals

Eternals is a movie unlike any other Marvel Cinematic Universe movie we have had before. I can see that some critics have taken some shots at the movie, and I can understand why they may have the feelings that they do. The Eternals are not a property that is well-known, even among comic fans. I am a deep comic fan, but I do not have a deep knowledge of the Eternals. I believe that is part of the issue some will have with Eternals. I also believe the fact that the MCU is taking some huge swings with this movie that they may not have done in other films will be divisive to some. I went in nervous about the movie. I came out really enjoying it.

This movie truly is more of a science fiction film than it is a Marvel movie. Sure, they have the superhero beats involved and they have a few casual mentions of the MCU, but Eternals is much more its own thing than we have had before.

Oscar-winning director Chloé Zhao was in charge of this film and she produced an epic that spanned the history of the universe unlike few films before it. She shot an absolutely gorgeous looking film with some massively interesting scenes and imagery. Chloé Zhao was allowed to make a Chloé Zhao movie inside the MCU. This was a huge risk.

In the Eternals, a group of powerful beings arrived on earth with instructions from the Celestial Arishem to protect the humans but to not interfere in their world unless there was an attack by the monstrous creatures known as the Deviants. After the Deviants are all destroyed, the Eternals spread apart, awaiting on earth for Arishem to tell them what was next.

They were around for 7000 years on earth. We get a bunch of flashbacks in the first part of the movie that helped suss out the list of characters in the Eternals. And there were a bunch of them.

Angelina Jolie was Thena. Gemma Chan played Sersi. Richard Madden played Ikaris. Salma Hayek played Ajak. Kumail Nanjiani played Kingo. Lia McHugh played Sprite. Brian Tyree Henry played Phastos. Lauren Ridloff played Makkari. Barry Keoghan played Druig. Ma Dong-seok played Gilgamesh. There was also Kit Harington as Dane Whitman. That is a ton of characters. When the flashbacks were happening in the beginning of the film, I was a little uncertain about these characters. I had very little connection to them and I was not sure how well the flashbacks were working. However, when the characters returned later in the film, without exception, I had a feeling that made me care about all of them. This told me the work the film did early on that might have been considered the iffy part was well worth it for the long run.

The film is utterly beautiful. The spanning shots of the world was amazing. Seeing the Celestial on the big screen is beyond any scope that we have seen to this point. I will admit there were a few moments of CGI that did not look great, but thankfully a lot of the film was shot in practical effects which allowed the CGI to lack here and there and still not derail the look of the movie.

The performances of the ensemble cast were just exceptional. Angelina Jolie was amazing. I loved the characters of Kumail Nanjiani and Brian Tyree Henry, especially. They brought an unbelievable amount of diversity without making it obvious that they were going for it. The diversity was not force. Every minute was earned.

The film is nearly 2 hours and 40 minutes long, but I did not feel the length. Perhaps the first 45 minutes or so dragged a touch, but it was a necessary time to establish the characters that would pay off in the second and third acts.

Eternals will take the MCU in a direction that is unexpected and ballsy. Without spoiling either of them, the two post credit scenes absolutely blew my Marvel-loving mind. Both post credits do some yeoman work setting up important moments for the future of Eternals, but also of the MCU.

This is a movie that demands that you pay attention to or you will be lost. While the film is exposition heavy, it impressively does a lot of its heavy lifting in dialogue between the characters. This is not a movie that talks down to the audience and it requires the audience to keep up, which is refreshing in a lot of ways. There is some humor in it, but, truthfully, some of it does not hit. Most of the humor involving Kumail Nanjiani worked the best. His relationship with the other Eternals and with his valet (Haresh Patel, who is a stand out in every scene he appears in) is great and works on every level.

Some of the music choices were off for me. While I enjoyed the inclusion of Pink Floyd in the early part of the film, some of the other songs, especially The End of the World by Skeeter Davis felt out of place.

I was nervous about Eternals, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. It is not my favorite Marvel movie of the year, but it turned out to hit with those big swings much more than it missed. It is a great cast and I think a second viewing may help me enjoy it even more. There is a lot of hate of Eternals out there, but none coming from me.

4.4 stars

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