Film Review: Eternals (2021)

For thousands of years, the group of immortals called Eternals have defended planet earth from the unnatural species of predators called Deviants. But in the present day, one of the Eternals finds out that the deviants still exist and they need to assemble to complete the unfinished business once and for all.

I haven’t read about Eternals in comics, so this film is the source of whatever the director felt to make the use of Jack Kirby‘s creations. So on paper, Eternals, I believe, are the strongest group of superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And the group being socially diverse makes sense as the celestial picked his team to find deviants around the world.

A recent winner of the Oscar for Best Director, Chloé Zhao, was roped to work on this MCU project that brought a lot of challenges for the production. Because an Oscar-winning director for a superhero project becomes hyper-interesting as the audience expects the comic-book film to be a well-written and fine productional craft. And then the cinematography, visual effects, and Ramin Djawadi‘s score are other plusses giving a boost to the motive of the story.

But I am looking at the bigger picture. Into its fourteen years of existence and twenty-sixth film in line with the greatest cinematic universe ever, how important is this film for the future? Zhao’s direction does bring new breathing and way of observing a Marvel film but I guess despite having the magnitude of her quality presentation, the plotline is neither apt nor the screenplay is compelling.

If a viewer with a bird’s eye has to scale down a 156-minute film, he/she will certainly realize that there is something really wrong with the film. Let me try to point out why Eternals is not even close to being considered an average film.

One major blemish about the film is the introduction. This group of immortals is new to the audience and we have no idea how they were ever created. A Star-Wars-style intro text is not enough to accept them the way they are. Yes, the intro text emphasizes that they were needed but how these people ever become Eternals, there is no backstory. Instead, we travel time with them and observe how they protect some ancient civilizations and empires from deviants. I felt the dramatizing of old times was taken way too seriously and lost the meaning between the lines. Two of the Eternals are shown to develop a romantic interest in Babylon in 575 BC. Next scene? They are getting married in 400 AD in the Gupta Empire. The same amount of time would have been taken in dramatizing the intro text.

Another factor that ‘may’ have not worked with the audience is that Eternals is very quintessential to MCU aesthetics. They are so close to perfection and lacks human sympathy that was found for almost all the Marvel superheroes in the previous films. Seeing them fighting and killing the deviants straight from the start without knowing their whys and hows makes the purpose bleak.

The middle part of the film is a dead soul. The audience can easily give his/her popcorn to the person on the other seat and leave the theatre giving up. Amongst the team, Sersi (Gemma Chan) was easily the least favorite of all the characters, and she was chosen to lead the group. In the cast, I need to know why such established actors like Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie were part of this project. Especially Jolie, what a terrible waste! Even Kit Harrington is not utilized.

There is no villain in the film. Fine, it is not compulsory to have a villain in a superhero film but the story has to be much captivating; the grip of the screenplay was loose. Eternal is a confusing experiment in which the director struggles to plot the film in a non-linear style and attempts to apply forced humor out of nowhere to keep the audience somehow happy. As the film tries to find its zone of compliments with such an excessive time, the film loses its transmission and drops flat.

Ratings: 4/10

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