THE ETERNALS – review

              There is a portion of the geek press that has come to decide that Marvel movies, the MCU, are inherently bad. Perhaps it is ‘too much of a “good” thing’, or maybe it’s just that familiarity has bred contempt, but the fact is that once Marvel became so ubiquitous at the theater – and now at home – it was seen as the antithesis of what film fans want to see. I can’t tell you how many times I have read the ‘superhero burnout’ stories because it’s incalculable at this point but needless to say it’s an old line. We see it with every film cycle. Oh dear, found footage is over. Oh no, the western is over. Oh lord, dumb comedies, they’re so over. We see it all the time. With Marvel the thing is that this trend of films has been going for over ten years, and as such it has soaked into the culture, into the films, and into pop culture. If you are not a fan of Marvel and their films, it is really easy to get a mad-on about the movies, and again, I get it.

Believe me, as someone who was not into the romantic vampire trends, I do get this.

The thing is though that, I don’t blame Marvel or its movies for any lack in the box office variety. I blame the suits. Comic book movies are not the only things that will make money, that has been proven time and again, it’s just that most of those are PG-13 at worst and families can go and kids can go, which gobbles up a lot of viewers. But other types of films can and do succeed. Maybe you don’t drop 100 mill into every movie, maybe you make more moderately budgeted films and don’t saturate with advertising, I dunno, but the movies are not killing the other films out there, the suits that won’t take risks – despite the oceans of cash they have – do.

SAYING all this, I was not sure what to make of this next generation of Marvel films. With this new era, we do not have many of the old heroes that in some ways, we grew up with, and instead we are getting new and more diverse faces and voices and it’s hard to tell how that will work out. I have to admit that it took a couple viewings but I really dig BLACK WIDOW and think its James Bond vibe really works. SHANG-CHI also took a couple looks to get me excited about it but it’s so different and gets so weird in the climax that I loved it, especially the leads. They were great. With ETERNALS we are getting a huge cast, a cosmic story, and no real connections to the past.

Let’s go.

              ETERNALS tells the story of a race of beings that serve the architects of the known universe, the Celestials. The Eternals are sent from planet to planet to protect the peoples and species against a race of creatures called the Deviants that feed off of them. The Eternals that are sent to earth become connected to the world and to the humans over time and when they are ordered to wrap up their mission, there is a division in the group, which has fractured over time, as the real purpose of why they were on earth, and what ends they serve becomes clearer.

              The entire time I was watching THE ETERNALS I couldn’t get over this nagging feeling that the film just wasn’t working. It is a beautiful movie, it is well made, there big set pieces and bigger actors and a lot of interesting ideas but it just doesn’t flow. It feels awkward and unwieldly. It’s a movie that should have been a short series. You could cut SO MUCH of the backstory on earth to get to the point but they really want to use that time to set up the relationships and the stakes, something they could have done in a much more economical way in terms of story. Even with all that time we barely get to know this massive cast and never feel a real connection to any of them so that when they start to fall, we just don’t feel the loss. We don’t feel much of anything. The villains of the films are given a super interesting opening for a great turn in the film but just when we are about to get more it’s pulled out from under us and we’re left with yet another paper-thin Marvel villain heading into the finale. Saying all that though there’s a LOT to like and a lot to delve into and we just get the tip of the iceberg here. There are some very interesting turns during the climax that leave you with a lot of questions we’re left to hope for more films about these characters. (PS – I REALLY hate that they decided to give a voice to the Celestial in it. I just feel like there are some characters that we shouldn’t ‘understand’ and it would have made things stranger and more dangerous regarding that character, but oh well).

This is not a bad film, at all.

It’s a beautiful, and exciting movie that is a really interesting entry into the MCU but it definitely feels like the one that needed some trimming and some streamlining…or a short series to get to the point a lot faster. I will definitely pick up the film to add to my collection and will give it another look and maybe it will feel less unwieldly. As it stands though, it just feels too big and left me wishing for a movie we didn’t get.  

It’s not bad, it’s just not that good, either.

2.5 out of 5.

Hey, I write books about stuff, go get one and then you can judge MY work. WOO!

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