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Film Review

ETERNALS (2021) Review

Marc reveals Marvel Studios’ ETERNALS calling it “enjoyable and welcomely progressive” in its development of the MCU.

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Eternals (Marvel Studios)

Marvel Studios’ Eternals is in cinemas now.

Synopsis

The saga of the Eternals, a race of immortal beings who lived on Earth and shaped its history and civilizations.

Review

This is not like any Marvel you have seen. Eternals is a brave and progressive diversion from the usual MCU movie which has its hits and misses.

The plot of the film is interesting, and the premise of Eternals as beings is intriguing enough – they were put on this earth by the Celestial Arishem to ensure that humanity can develop. They do this by preventing Deviants, wonderfully rendered, and ghastly looking mindless aliens from wiping out the human race. As the plot moves along, the stakes get higher and higher, eventually leading to a work ending cataclysmic event. The stakes, when offered to the viewer, become very real and terrifying. The film is full of surprising twists, fantastic fights and moving moments throughout which keep the viewer engaged.

I enjoyed how the film ties itself to the real world by involving the Eternals in many historical events such as the rise of Babylon and the bombing of Hiroshima. It does this in very clever ways, even explaining that the myth of Icarus (Ikaris) was itself invented by Sprite, the mischievous member of the Eternals . I also enjoyed the references to Batman and Superman which further strengthens the link to the ‘real world’. These specific references were laugh out loud moments I’m sure all fans will enjoy.

Where the film fails is in nailing a few of the emotional beats. The core love relationship between Sersi and Ikaris was often awkward. A lot of time was spent with Ikaris watching Sersi as she mingles with humans. These went on for far too long and went from endearing to creepy. Another let down was, as with other MCU movies, the heroes come up against a version of themselves that they have to overcome. This is an overused trope in the MCU, seen in Iron Man, Age of Ultron, Ant Man Black Panther, Black Widow and even Loki and Falcon and The Winter Soldier to name a few.

I was impressed with most of the performances, but the best for me being Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiali and most surprisingly for me, Kit Harrington. Angelina was outstanding as the troubled Thena and as you’d expect her performance steals the show. Kumail was both hysterical and modest when required, his range and talent being utilised and pushed more than any other actor. And man, those muscles! I loved Kit’s performance as Dane Whitman, the somewhat hapless mortal boyfriend of an Eternal. My only criticism is that I wanted more! Bryan Tyree Henry as Faustus was another great performance. Bryan effortlessly conveyed his emotions, and he will forever go down in history for the first gay onscreen MCU kiss – something that has taken too long.

I did not enjoy Salma Hayek’s performance as much. She is perfect for the mother role that she plays but I feel that she held back in her performance which was jarring. Barry Keoghan on the other hand was too much the opposite, overplaying his role of moody teenage brother to the point that it was irritating at times.

As you’d expect with a Chloé Zhao picture the visuals were stunning. I was blown away by establishing shots of both crowded cityscapes and desolate deserts. I was worried about the action sequences, but these were handled well enough. There is one particular scene in which Sersi uses her power against a deviant in a pool of water which is indescribable and must be seen.

Verdict

At its heart Eternals is a great family drama in which the family members have superpowers. It deals with love, loss, trust and betrayal – themes that all families deal with regularly and does so with aplomb. While there are some uncomfortable moments which didn’t land, there were more pleasing that did. It is a deeply emotional story that explores humanity through the eyes of gods, what it means to be human and what it means to be family, themes not yet explored in the MCU on this level. The film is enjoyable and welcomely progressive in its content and casting, and a step in the right direction for the MCU. And oh boy! Those post credit scenes!


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