Marvel’s Eternals brings the most unique and visually grand MCU origin film to date.
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Here we are with the third marvel film in five months, after the pandemic-induced hiatus Marvel has kept the releases coming every couple of months. The Eternals is the last of the year from Marvel proper and out of the three releases including Black Widow and Shang-Chi, Eternals is the most interesting of the bunch by a mile. Not since Guardians of the Galaxy have we had a Marvel film that is throwing so much at the wall. A massive cast of new characters, large cosmic proportion level story threads to the universe, and not following the traditional formula to a when it comes to first entry Marvel films. That is to say, this movie is tackling A LOT.
In a nutshell, Eternals is about a group of immortal super-powered humanoid aliens sent to Earth for the purpose of protecting humanity from another otherworldly threat called the Deviants. Sent by the Celestial (planet-sized god-like beings of the universe) Arishem, they are instructed to avoid interfering with all other human conflicts, and so the team does that. If there isn’t a Deviant threat there only task is to live among humanity. So this is what happens for thousands of years until an inciting incident of more Deviants draws them out of their exile from the world and each other.
Did I mention this movie is tackling a lot? This is where I imagine some viewers may get a bit lost as the film does a bit of back and forth between the present conflict that draws the Eternals back into action and their many adventures from the dawn of man till now. It caught me off guard at times in the beginning but eventually after some table setting the movie flows nicely as we follow lead actress Gemma Chan as Sersi on her quest to unite her fellow Eternals to save Earth from a terrible fate. Which this alone would have been good enough for a Marvel film, but director Chloé Zhao aims for more than just the bare-bones adventure plot. The majority of the Eternals have at least small arcs and conflicts that make each of them feel more than just another sidekick for action scenes. The cast is all very likable and gives strong performances. They all carry their weight to equal levels that I don’t necessarily have a stand-out to point to. Perhaps Barry Keoghan’s conflicted Druig, who has some very interesting moral conflicts with the rest of the Eternals based on his ability to control minds.
That’s the interesting thing about this movie overall, most of the immortal beings have very different feelings of responsibility, humanity, and what they are willing to do or not do in the name of their beliefs. You can feel Zhao at points was definitely taking aim at the current state of the world where everything turns into a battle of blood when sometimes it could be easily tabled with “I respect your feelings, I feel differently so I’m going to stay out of this conflict entirely.” Like I keep saying this movie is aiming to do as much as it can, and many could argue that it hampers the focus of the movie, but to me, it just enriched what would have otherwise been just another Marvel movie.
Beyond the plot and themes, I really think it’s important to mention how beautiful this movie is. The natural vistas, the epic grandiose shots, this is a movie for a big screen for sure. Cinematographer Ben Davis did an excellent job and should be proud of bringing something like this to the world of the MCU. To accompany this the great composer Ramin Djawadi was a perfect choice to score the film. This work echoes the beautiful scores that many HBO viewers are familiar with from Game of Thrones and Westworld. In combination, these two help set the mood for each scene from revelations to the big Marvel action you’d expect.
All in all, Eternals was a fun fresh Marvel film which at film 26 in the franchise you kind of have to be, or else it just doesn’t work as well. Out of the many origin movies in the MCU Eternals is up there for me as one of the most ambitious, and unique. That alone gives me hope for what is to come from following these characters, for make no mistake there are many more adventures ahead for immortal heroes to come.