By Ben King
Angelina Jolie. Richard Madden. Salma Hayek. Kumail Nanjiani. Harry Styles. From Academy Award winning director Chloé Zhao. With a team like this, Marvel Studios’ Eternals seemed almost too big to fail. But alas, the 26th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become the lowest rated movie in the franchise’s history, and has quickly lost it’s legs at the box office, with $368 million grossed against a $200 million budget. The film has undoubtedly been Marvel’s least successful undertaking – but Eternals was a refreshing departure from the usual Marvel formula, and delivered a visually stunning, heart-warming film with some of the best introduced characters we’ve seen in the MCU this far.
Eternals is about a group of immortal aliens, who arrive on Earth to battle their evil counterparts, the Deviants. They are instructed to never interfere with human affairs unless a Deviant is involved, but when the Deviants remerge after laying dormant for hundreds of years, the Eternals must regroup and find out what’s causing the resurgence. Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, promised that Eternals would be Marvel’s most ambitious film to date, with the inclusion of diversity and representation across the board.
With a runtime clocking in at 2 hours and 37 minutes, and 10 brand new characters to introduce, Eternals had big expectations to live up to. And, thankfully, I was not disappointed. Each Eternal had their own moments to shine, and the wide array of powers displayed were always exciting to lay witness to. The look of the Eternal’s powers was beautiful – the intricate, detailed gold threads that were utilized by each character differently greatly aided the viewing experience. Each action sequence was choreographed beautifully, with each Eternal bringing their own unique set of abilities to the table. Even through their numerous differences, the Eternals all worked together in a seamless fashion. You could truly feel as if they were a team!
Director Cholé Zhao is famous for using natural landscapes for her movies, and Eternals was no different. A bulk of the movie was shot on location, which led to the creation of absolutely stunning visuals throughout the film. Set pieces of Babylon and the Amazon jungle were painstakingly created, in order to fully immerse the viewer into the medium. The CGI was elegantly crafted, and everything about the movie’s visual components excelled!
With a huge ensemble cast, the acting was also top-notch. But, the standouts were; Angelina Jolie as Thena, an elite warrior, Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, the innovator, and Lauren Ridloff as Makkari, an Eternal with superhuman speed. Jolie portrayed Thena perfectly. Thena’s struggles with memory loss were highlighted by Jolie’s performance, and Jolie embodied the physicality needed for the role of a great warrior. Meanwhile Brian Tyree Henry’s Phastos was an excellent addition to the roster. Henry provided the much needed moments of levity, and there was a nuance to his role that made him the most likeable, and compassionate Eternal. Makkari, played by Lauren Ridloff, was simply a treasure. The fierce, courageous energy that Ridloff lent to Makkari effortlessly shined through on the big screen.
Although, Eternals wasn’t perfect by any means. The film’s lead, Gemma Chan who portrayed Sersi, lacked the energy needed in order to be front and center. Chan did a fine job, but Sersi herself was a very passive character. By chronicling the story primarily through Sersi, big chunks of the film felt stilted and too low-energy. The pacing also did not help this problem. At times, the movie dragged considerably, and I was struggling to stay focused.
Eternals was Marvel Studios’ first mishap, which is unfortunate as the film is a delightful breath of fresh air within the MCU. I’m looking forward to seeing these characters on the big screen again, and can’t wait to see where they go next. I’ll just remember to keep my “eternally” optimistic attitude at bay when it comes to the reviews.
Rating – 4/5