Life & Culture

Film review: Eternals

Expectations were high for the latest Marvel offering, but Linda Marric was left disappointed


There were more than a few raised eyebrows when it was announced that Eternals, the latest offering from the Marvel Cinematic Universe would be directed by award-winning indie filmmaker Chloé Zhao (The Rider, Nomadland). Famed for her restrained and unfussy style, Zhao may not have seemed like the most obvious of choices to take on such a project, but on the whole it felt like a step in the right direction for the popular franchise.

Created in 1976 by Jewish comic book artist Jack Kirby and based on a brand new set of MCU characters, Eternals promised to be not only thematically unique, but to also feature a commendably diverse cast made up of some unlikely comic book heroes.

Angelina Jolie leads a stellar cast which also features British actors Gemma Chan (Humans), Game of Throne co-stars Richard Madden and Kit Harrington and South Korean American actor Ma Dong-seok. Elsewhere, Dublin-born indie favourite Barry Keoghan (The Killing of a Sacred Deer) also stars alongside comedian Kumail Nanjiani and acclaimed stage and screen actor Brian Tyree Henry (If Beale Street Could Talk).

After the return of half the population in Avengers: Endgame, the Eternals — an immortal race who have secretly lived on Earth for over 7,000 years—reunite to protect humanity from the Deviants. Sersi (Chan) finds herself face to face with her former love Ikaris (Madden). Meanwhile, Thena (Jolie) is suffering a personality crisis which could destroy her and all those around her. After suffering a bitter betrayal, Sersi and the rest of the Eternals must fight to save Earth and humanity from total obliteration. 

As much as it pains me to say it, Zhao presents one of the weakest MCU offerings yet. Eternals is a mishmash of well-meaning, yet jarringly verbose and bafflingly incoherent nonsense which is only just abut saved by some half decent performances. While nobody can say whether Zhao is fully responsible for the film’s failure, there is little doubt that this truly isn’t the film any of us were expecting from this hugely accomplished filmmaker.

If there is one thing that could always be improved upon in any given superhero movie, it is that often we are left with an under developed plot in favour of big action set pieces. In the case of Eternals, I often found myself longing for long drawn-out fight scenes and elaborate explosions in the hope of drowning out the feeling of tedium left by the very introspective nature of this particular story. Furthermore, the films worst crime is how little Angelina Jolie is given to work with, which is genuinely one of the most disappointing aspect of this whole sorry affair.

Still, there’s no doubt that Marvel devotees will once again lap it up and might even forgive the rather shambolic nature of this offering, but on the whole there isn’t much here in a way of plot to make anyone want to sit through this more than once.

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