Another trip down the rabbit hole of the MCU, but this time there was some level of anticipation on my end, not a lot but enough for Eternals to earn some of my attention. It was almost impossible for me not to ignore the fact that this film was made by this year’s Best Director winner Chloé Zhao, creator of this year’s Best Picture Nomadland, where I said in my review that Zhao that she was a directing force to watch out for. Which is why I’m devastated that Eternals is not the project that demonstrates the best of what she can offer. I’ve never seen an MCU film more oppressed to set up future projects than this one.
We’ve already been introduced to one new character of the MCU this year, so how’s about we get acquainted with several. These are the Eternals, immortal beings that have watched humanity since its very dawn, protecting us from Deviants, monsters created by Celestials, titan entities who created suns and planets… Do you see where I’m going with this point? There’s a lot to take in. But in defence of the MCU, these are things we’ve been somewhat acquainted with before, so although I would usually slam a film for information dumping, I’ve decided to give Eternals a bit of leeway.
Disney are no stranger when it comes to diversity in their projects, especially recently, but Eternals might just be the most diverse, represented cast I’ve seen in a film. Talk about ticking boxes. You have East and South Asian representation in Gemma Chan and Kumail Nanjiani, Black and Gay representation in Brian Tyree Henry, Youth representation in Lia McHugh, you even have Hard of Hearing representation in Lauren Ridolf. In an age of cinema where identity has never been more important to be represented accurately, Eternals blows every other attempt out the window. However, do expect many people to come out and say that the film is pandering to these various identities and cultures.
In terms of the characters these actors play, they all are pretty decent, certainly not the most memorable nor one that stands out from the rest of the MCU crowd, that is however with the exception of one. The character who gets the biggest laughs in the film and it may surprise you to know that he’s not even an Eternal. Karun (Harish Patel) is an absolute barrel of laughs, he is the valet of Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) and although he doesn’t have any powers, he is armed with his many cameras to document their journey. Two things stand out about his character, his innocence and humbleness, when you put these two characteristics together, you create a character that has no personal flaws and, like the audience, is just along for the ride.
That is where any hope of appraisal stops for Eternals, because once you peel back the story, you find a very repetitive narrative that has been seen in several MCU films before it. each sequence follows the same structure, characters find others, discover what they’ve been doing since they last met, fight the threat, and repeat. Chloé Zhao surely has more respect for audiences than to give us the same stories we’ve seen too many times. I was at least hoping she could present the narrative in a newer light by carrying over similar techniques from the film that put her on the map, but there’s nothing there so the film looks indistinguishable from other MCU films.
Although Zhao is credited as one of the writers of Eternals, I am convinced that she is innocent in this mess that Eternals creates for the future of the MCU and I know this because of the suspicious way Disney’s agenda is sneakily pushed into the dialogue. For instance, after being away from the duty of being an Eternal, Kingo is a big Bollywood actor, he asks Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) if she has seen them to which she says she’ll wait for them on DVD. The camera cuts away from the conversation but you can still hear Kingo slamming DVD’s saying streaming is where it’s at now. That’s pretty daring and hypocritical of Disney to say this because as well as streaming, guess where else Eternals will end up? On DVD. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you Disney.
Like with all MCU films, the reliance on good, ground-breaking CGI is essential to our enjoyment. Like with any digital effects, you have ones that look realistic and ones that look out of place, the cunningness of digital effects is that the bad effects can go unnoticed because the good effects have a striking flair that wows audiences. Unfortunately for Eternals, the bad effects stand out more than the good effects. I started to notice that Eternals would save the best for large, distant objects like the Celestials who look incredible. However, for objects that are close and small, it looks cheap.
Remember the days when MCU films were the most secure films for audiences to have a good time? Those days are long behind us. Now instead of sure-fire hits, we have to use our hard-earned money to essentially gamble on whether we think it will entertain us. I’m sorry to say if you’re thinking of seeing Eternals, you’ll experience heavy losses, and not just with your wallet. This is a pitiful attempt by Marvel that is more dedicated to setting up future events. I’m staggered that Marvel hasn’t got the memo that by focusing on the future, you forget to pay attention to the present, but I’m sure they haven’t a single care about their flaws so long as it keeps their pockets stuffed.
Final Result: 3/10 – Poor
Have you seen Eternals? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Cry Macho