REVIEW: ‘Eternals’ movie brings new characters and new direction to Marvel Cinematic Universe
Nov 4, 2021, 11:59 AM
SALT LAKE CITY — For two years now I’ve wondered not only where Marvel will take their massively successful cinematic universe after the decade-long buildup to and through Avengers: Endgame, but I’ve also wondered how whatever it is they choose to do will be received by the fans. After all, fandoms can be a tricky thing. One minute they love you, the next minute some will turn on you.
Now, three movies into Phase 4 of the MCU, we’re starting to get an idea of where some of the story narratives are headed, but Eternals, the latest superhero effort from Marvel, may give us an indication as to how fans feel about the direction.
Eternals tells the story of a group of ten super-powered individuals sent to Earth in 5000 B.C. by a race of gigantic galactic beings called the Celestials, so the Eternals can protect the planet from animal-like creatures called Deviants that were attacking and killing the humans.
After they accomplish their mission to wipe out the Deviants, they are given orders from their leader Ajak (Salma Hayek) to stay in the background of human affairs unless Deviants are involved.
Eventually, the ten heroes split up to spend their immortality in different ways. But following the events of Avengers: Endgame, an unexpected tragedy forces each of the Eternals out of hiding to reunite and face the Deviants once again.
Eternals is getting mixed reviews, to say the least. I actually liked several things about it. First thing that stood out to me were the very impressive visuals. The colorful uniforms, costumes and historical settings really stood out on the big screen.
The CGI for ships, superpowers, giant characters and some of the establishing shots that take you to various points of history were even more impressive on the IMAX screen. The Celestials who sent the Eternals to Earth are so large that you can see them from space, and that perspective is really emphasized on the bigger screen.
I thought the casting was pretty solid. The main characters are Gemma Chan (Crazy Rich Asians) and Richard Madden (“Game of Thrones”) but you’ll also see Kit Harington, Hayek, Brian Tyree Henry, Kumail Nanjiani (who I thought almost stole the show) and Angelina Jolie. It is easily the most diverse cast of leads in a superhero movie. And all of them can act, though opinions will vary on how well each one does here.
I personally thought it was kind of fun and refreshing to go into a comic book movie and not know much about any of the characters with names like Sersi, Ikaris, Thena, Sprite, Kingo, Phastos, Druig, Gilgamesh, and Makkari. They are a much-lesser known group than the Avengers, obviously, but even in my comic book nerdiness I knew almost nothing about them or their powers before the movie.
I will admit that watching it on an IMAX screen probably helped strengthen the feeling that this is an epic tale, or at least it’s trying to be. The Eternals were present in ancient Babylon, in Mexico during the conquistadores era, and at Hiroshima.
It’s directed by this year’s Oscar-winning best director Chloé Zhao, and she tries to balance that large-scale feel with smaller stakes, like the connection between a couple of the characters that is supposed to be much of the movie’s heart. It doesn’t get anywhere near the epic level that I though DUNE reached, but it’s not small either.
For a superhero movie there are several warnings. It is rated PG-13 for fantasy violence and action, a bit of language and some sexuality.
There are also a couple of firsts for a Marvel movie: One is a sex scene between two of the superhero characters. The other is the first openly gay superhero, who shares a kiss with his husband before he goes off to save the world. Neither scene felt exploitative, nor was any big deal made out of either of them in the movie itself, but parents may want to be aware of this.
Because it deals very little with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, other than a couple of passing mentions, younger kids might be wondering where the heroes from the other movies are. Plus, it’s a plot-heavy story and there are scenes and plot moments that could be confusing for them.
On top of everything else, it’s a long movie with a 2 hour and 30 minute run time. Add to that the fact that the story is not told in a linear fashion, but instead jumps back and forward in its timeline, as well as having TWO post-credits scenes that you have to stay to watch.
I thought Eternals had some good moments mixed into a movie that that felt just a bit too long. I mostly enjoyed it, but would have liked a bit more humor in the movie than it had.
I wouldn’t necessarily call it the worst of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, but its in the lower half of the standings for me. Hardcore Marvel fans should definitely see it, but probably no big rush for the average fan.
WHERE IT’S PLAYING
If you do want to go see Eternals, you will have to do it in theaters. NO streaming this one at home for awhile. I think it looks good in IMAX, but I wouldn’t say you ought to see it in that format, unlike DUNE where I think you should. I’m very interested to see how Eternals performs at the box office.
Interested in this movie? Watch the video at the top of the page for my full, in-depth review & final rating.
Hopefully you & your family found this review helpful! Andy Farnsworth does a weekly “What To Watch” segment for the KSL 5 Today morning news show and also hosts the Fan Effect podcast for KSL NewsRadio. Check out his in-depth reviews of movies and streaming TV series on KSLTV.com.