A review of the new movie “Eternals” – the latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe

This is a Marvel movie like no other and it has a director (and co-writer) like no other: Chinese-American Chloé Zhao. This is a work that could hardly be more different than “Nomadland” for which Zhao won the Academy Award for Best Director which shows the scope of her talent and the bravery of her ambition. For this is a hugely ambitious film, covering 7,000 years of humankind, depicting many civilisations and nations, and featuring no less than 10 superheroes of unprecedented diversity. 

Really, it is not just hugely ambitious but over ambitious for, while there is much to admire in the movie with some colourful and exciting sequences, ultimately there is simply too much going on and so much that is unclear. I’m from the school that believes that a film, while it might have depth and complexity that require further thought and perhaps even repeated viewing, should be broadly intelligible to the average viewer on a first viewing. 

So, what’s the movie about? Well, the Celestials created the Eternals to protect humankind from the Deviants but, over (lots of) time, the Eternals have rather fallen out between themselves and now there is a problem with something called the Emergence. Are you following this? 

The point of view of the story is that of the Eternals who are not only very old but very diverse. Traditionally superhero movies centred on a white male American character (think “Superman”, “Batman”, Ironman”, “Captain America” …), although recently we have seen more gender and ethnic diversity (think “Black Widow” and “Black Panther” respectively), but none of the 10 Eternals is a white male American – the nearest is a Scotsman and an Irishman- so we have lots of women and people of colour and even gay and deaf heroes. This is admirable from a cultural point of view, but it means that we don’t really get to know any of the team in depth and we are constantly bouncing around different storylines.

No wonder the film runs for over two and a half hours and we still leave the cinema bewildered about much of the narrative.


XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>