Starring: Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Barry Keoghan, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Lauren Ridloff, Don Lee, and Harish Patel
Director: Chloé Zhao
Eternals isn't a bad movie, but it is a messy one. The script is extremely exposition heavy, and the way it jumps between different time periods can be jarring. There also are numerous moments that could've been cut to make the movie shorter, and director Chloé Zhao's style doesn't really mesh with the MCU. On the plus side, the diverse cast is incredibly strong, especially Gemma Chan and Kumail Nanjiani. Overall, the film makes a clear attempt to escape typical MCU trappings, which is a fantastic step forward, but it's still flawed. It's worth watching to see for yourself.
The MCU has become a cinematic juggernaut partly due to the overarching story and distinctive style threading its 25 films (and several shows). The latest entry, Eternals, breaks that mold to the point it barely resembles an MCU entry. This is 100% a Chloé Zhao film, which doesn't work for the most part. The sceneries are vast and the action sequences are fantastic, but they're few and far between. As for the characters, they lack intrigue, while the dialogue contains enough exposition to make Dune blush. Phase 4 has some work to do to reach the heights of its predecessors.
Eternals looks beautiful and dreams big. Hopeful themes about humanity run rampant throughout director Chloé Zhao's grand aesthetics and the characters' open-hearted view of Earth (Brian Tyree Henry, Don Lee, and a subtle Angelina Jolie are standouts). Big philosophical swings about life's grand schemes work well, especially when they pit the heroes' beliefs against one another. However, that leads to some cliché one-liners and all-too-convenient plot points, which are saved only by the charming innocence displayed by such powerful beings. Great chemistry helps to elevate the telegraphed exposition, making Eternals a slightly better than average, yet highly rewatchable, MCU addition.
Many things will be said of Marvel's Eternals, but expect none of them to be overtly positive out of the gate. The film is decent... and it looks great in certain scenes... but its emotional tones are often uneven and its pacing is far too outstretched. That said, I did appreciate how different the film felt from typical MCU fare, as it rarely references the other films and stays most concerned with the story it's telling rather than the ones around it. Chloé Zhao’s directorial style fades in and out, but there is enough to enjoy, even on a surface level.
Eternals isn't outright terrible, but it's certainly terrible by MCU standards. Aside from a few camera shots that are pure art and two anticipation-generating post-credit scenes, there is very little to rave about. The cast seems mostly uninterested in being involved (Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek genuinely feel like stunt casting), and there is almost zero on-screen chemistry amongst the ensemble. On top of that, the CGI is periodically shoddy, the characters are dull, and it's generally boring - just... So. Much. Exposition. I appreciate Marvel's effort to expand outside their proven formula, but Eternals is a huge swing and miss.