“We all want to break our orbits, float like a satellite gone wild in space, run the risk of disintegration. We all want to take our lives in our own hands and hurl them out among the stars.” – David Bottoms
As more and more new heroes and villains are introduced into the MCU it’s becoming harder to explain where they’ve all been. You can explain away the absence of many by simply establishing that they simply weren’t their hero counterparts during the time of Ultron and Thanos. Some you can say they would have maybe been out of their league fighting alongside the Avengers. Admittedly that one is a bit of a stretch considering you had one Avenger with pistols and another with a bow and arrows called peers to literal gods and super soldiers. And then there’s the Eternals. Where were they? It would seem that no matter how powerful a being is in the MCU there is always someone or some thing able to crush them with the close of a fist. The all-powerful Eternals have their masters just like any one of us has a boss we hate answering to.
I think I got my point across when I reviewed Shang-Chi but just in case you skipped that amazing piece of writing the basic summation is that in a year of multiple MARVEL movies it is, in my most humble opinion, the weakest entry of 2021. As everyone glowed over how great it is I was left wondering if I saw a movie different from the one everyone else saw. For me it was nothing more than a generic kung-fu movie with bright colors and a villain as power hungry as any other boring, one dimensional bad guy we’ve seen in the past. I didn’t hate it, I just wasn’t in the wow(ed) section of the Shang-Chi fandom. I liked Black Widow more and now that I’ve seen Eternals I can say I liked it more as well. In fact I think so far (Spider-Man, I’m looking at you) Eternals is my favorite MARVEL movie of the year; emphasis on movie and so far.
At a hefty two-and-a-half-hour runtime, Eternals can feel slower than some other superhero fare but I think the moments that make it feel different are the moments when it stands out the most and for the best reasons. This is the most character driven entry into the MCU and I for one loved this aspect. It made it feel grounded in a story filled with flying people and mind controlling superhumans. In a movie where intergalactic giants bigger than skyscrapers roam with impunity the scenes when two or more Eternals find the secrets of their own pasts and use this information to determine their futures is such a human element needed to make such exaggerated existence feel more relatable. These are extraordinary beings capable of astonishing things and yet their problems of identity and finding their own paths is so human, making this a fantastic balance of superhero and human drama. I said human a lot but I think it’s fitting. As much as the Eternals are front and center, their ultimate goal is the continuation of our planet, a place they inherited initially as a temporary station that would become their beloved home for thousands of years.
The dynamics of the family unit that is the Eternals is reminiscent of the early days of The Avengers. They are united in their battle against the creatures known as Deviants but the way in which they fight them is in contention for almost their entire 7,000+ year existence on Earth. Some of them see any kind of interference with the human race’s progression as wrong. Even if that influence would avoid a war or a genocide. They have been ordered by beings far more capable than them to never interfere unless Deviants are involved. Others in the group see this decision as heartless and lack of control over humanity is to let the monkeys run the zoo, so to speak.
It is the belief of some that to let us as a species be let loose without any kind of oversight is much like Loki’s motivations to imprison humanity in the first Avengers film. He believes we are happier as slaves, as living things that are never left to our own devices. These differences create a millennium of confrontation at first harmless eventually causing a chasm stretching throughout time itself. But as things once calm begin to unhinge the Eternals face their internal struggles in hopes of finding their hero selves once again. They must set aside silly squabbles in the interest of the greater good. What that is exactly is the story of Eternals and will ultimately determine their future as well as ours.
I love the smaller moments here. When two characters remember the old days and yearn for simpler times is a conversation we’ve all had at one time or another. Their old days just happen to be thousands of years ago but still, the idea remains the same. I love the theme of a group of non-human super beings finding their adopted humanity in the face of great adversity. They may not have been born here but they will protect it all the same if they had been.
Director Chloé Zhao brings her artistry to the visuals creating the most uniquely gorgeous MARVEL film yet, visually speaking. There is a sense of making the story more important than the action and is achieved by the visuals emanating an organic feeling. Many scenes are handheld as characters simply talk and the camera hovers around them like an angel on their shoulders watching without judgement. So much of this film is a discovery inward as much as it’s a revelation of the stars above.
I left feeling connected to these characters. Even as the action sequences at times became generic they were still fun. That said even the stale sequences gained steam as the story carried on. I felt their fragility more as information about each character was given making their fights for survival all the more palpable.
I can already tell I’m going to be in the minority here like I was with Shang-Chi but I’m okay with that. For my money, Eternals is worth the time and probable confusion as to what is happening in certain scenes and what is alluded to in the coming stories of the MCU. I expected something different with Eternals. In fact, if I’m honest, my hopes were not high for this one. Maybe that made me an easy audience but I can’t be mad if I expected something lackluster (a low bar) only to experience something I was not only entertained by but made me contemplative about my own existence, even if only for a moment.
Rated PG-13 For: fantasy violence and action, some language and brief sexuality
Runtime: 157 minutes
After Credits Scene: Yes. Two. One mid-credits, second at the very end.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Starring: Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, Kumail Nanjiani
Directed By: Chloé Zhao
Out of 10 Nerdskulls
Story: 9/ Acting: 8/ Directing: 8.5/ Visuals: 9
OVERALL: 9 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes.
Check out the trailer below:
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