Director Chloé Zhao imbues “Eternals” with her particular aesthetic fingerprint, but she can only bend the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far. As a result, we have a blockbuster movie with an unusually soft beauty that also tries to meet the tremendous demands of a massive action extravaganza.
In a nutshell, it’s a shambles. It’s also 2 hours and 37 minutes long, which I can’t emphasize enough. Despite this, “Eternals” feels rushed and disappointing due of the large, diverse cast and the extensive world-building required. The mythology is complicated and frequently ridiculous, and the film comes to a stand around the one-hour mark for a lengthy information dump. You may still be unsure of what’s going on by the end, but you may not care.
Zhao, the latest Academy Award winner for Best Picture and Director for the sparse and intimate “Nomadland,” does, however, show off a lot of her trademark style. Those of you who were intrigued by Zhao’s pick and wondered what her take on the MCU would be would be pleased to see that she can find magic hour everywhere she goes, from a breezy sunset on the shores of ancient Babylon to foreboding storm clouds forming on the plains of modern-day South Dakota. She frequently finds moments to let us slow down, take a breath, and savor a moment of naturalism and calm, working with cinematographer Ben Davis, who also photographed “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Doctor Strange,” and “Captain Marvel.” The windy Australian outback’s sun-baked heat is palpable. A nighttime action scene set in a torch-lit woodland is particularly spectacular.
They don’t survive long, unfortunately. Because there’s a raging comic book monster to feed.
Zhao and her co-writers Patrick Burleigh and Ryan Firpo & Kaz Firpo rush around in time in an unwieldy manner to portray the story of a tribe of eternal creatures who live covertly on Earth. Each has their own special talents, but they also share the witty comedy that has been so common in Marvel films. The cast and features on display here are revolutionary, and they give us hope that we’re about to see something completely different. In ways we haven’t seen from the Avengers, for example, there is a natural diversity at work. The inclusive nature of “Eternals” feels both exhilarating and seamless, from Salma Hayek’s Ajak and Gemma Chan’s Sersi’s leadership to Brian Tyree Henry and Haaz Sleiman as a homosexual couple with a young boy to Lauren Ridloff’s Makkari, whose hearing handicap is her superpower. Thena, played by Angelina Jolie, is a ferocious warrior who also suffers from mental illness, which is handled sympathetically in the film. Lia McHugh, on the other hand, brings life to the show as the androgynous, eternally young Sprite.
The fact that two people have genuine intercourse, which is unique and long overdue in a movie universe where everyone is super-hot and muscular and clad in form-fitting clothes, is maybe the most startling aspect. The moment is quick, but it does a lot in terms of indicating that these comic book characters have a deeper and more sensitive sense of humanity. Tony Stark and Pepper Potts are the most likely suspects. Clint Barton most certainly did because he was a father. However, most other romantic relationships have consisted of harmless flirting at most, thus seeing these characters act like adults in this way is simply another illustration of the potential hidden inside “Eternals.”
However, there is a plot that will leave your head as swiftly as it came. On the centuries since they came on Earth in a spaceship that like a gigantic, black marble Dorito, the Eternals have dispersed over the world. They’ve been quietly guiding humanity and combating voracious, sinewy beasts known as Deviants all along. However, a potentially cataclysmic incident forces them to abandon the comfortable lifestyles they’ve built for themselves, reassemble (pardon the pun) and use their combined superpowers to avert the apocalypse. Again! To follow “Eternals,” you don’t need to be well-versed in Marvel lore in general or Jack Kirby’s bizarre comic series in particular; aside from a brief mention of Thanos and why these heroes didn’t intervene to stop the events of “Avengers: Infinity War,” this feels more like a standalone film than most in the MCU. However, if you’re a fan, you’ll get more out of the film, and the necessary end-credit scenes will mean far more to you.
Sersi, who has transmutational talents, and Richard Madden’s Ikaris, a versatile, Superman-type figure, star as centuries-old lovers on and off. As charismatic as Madden is, Chan’s chemistry with Kit Harington’s Dane Whitman, her mortal, London-based boyfriend, who shares Sersi’s interest in archaeology, is even hotter. Whatever emotional stakes exist between any of these characters soon fade into the background as they fly around zapping enemies with eye lasers. You can sense the strain of attempting to juggle everything. And the climactic action spectacular is so shiny and cacophonous that it could have been pulled from any number of soulless sci-fi films released in the last decade, suffocating all of the tiny pleasures we’d experienced along the way.
As a pretentious Bollywood star, a freshly buff Kumail Nanjiani provides some chuckles, Don Lee provides a compassionate presence despite his massive size, and Barry Keoghan only has to show there to have us experience his unnerving mood. All of these actors have proven that they are able to the task of establishing complex characters inside the MCU’s frenzy. Regrettably, they—and Zhao—can only function as cogs in the machine. So, waiting this movie show at 123Movies online must be worth, isn’t it?