Cast: Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan and Kit Harrington
Directed by Chloé Zhao
Written by Patrick Burleigh, Ryan Firpo, Chloé Zhao and Matthew K. Firpo
Heading into the 26th installation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there’s a point where you begin to wonder just where these films can possibly go next. However, ‘Eternals’ seemed like the first in a little while where there was a promise of something new and exciting to be offered. From the trailers, audiences were excited to be put in the hands of one of the most exciting directors working today – Chloé Zhao, as well as seeing a diverse cast of characters and an interesting storyline that seemed to focus more on the way in which superheroes interact with the culture and history of their world, rather than the usual action sequences that comprise a large amount of these films.
Whilst there were some moments of stunning cinematography, where the framing and stylistic choices greatly benefitted the emotions of a character or scene, it can’t be said that there’s any sort of consistency when it comes to these moments. Though it’s recently been revealed that a large amount of the film was shot on location rather than using the usual green screen approach, it’s hard to truly appreciate these moments of naturalism when most of the screen is being overwhelmed by large CGI creatures. For this instalment, they’re known as ‘Deviants’, and as usual, put up a fight good enough to show off the Eternals powers, without there being any sort of moral conflict surrounding the physical altercation taking place.
With seven-thousand years of humanity’s history to work with, the writers do well to pick out some interesting and pivotal moments to place the Eternals within, testing their willingness to remain obedient and maintain impartiality over human conflict. Through these flashbacks, we’re able to better understand what makes each of the Eternals unique, exploring what drives and motivates them. There’s some interesting moments of both humour and conflict between the group, but many of these conversations are fairly exposition-heavy, simply serving as a cutaway to provide more information for when we catch up to the modern world. For a two-and-a-half hour film, there doesn’t feel as if there’s much time when the story is able to simply slow down and let scenes play out naturally or with ambiguity – a stylistic trait that Zhao has become known for, but I imagine the Marvel producers are not so supportive of. You definitely felt the length of the film around the halfway mark, but by the end it seemed as if it needed another fifteen minutes just to simply round off the story in a more impactful way. Final goodbyes felt as if they were cut for time, and many characters had only a small conclusion despite playing a pivotal role in the film – but I suppose when it comes to Marvel there’s no need for goodbyes, as there’s always a sequel around the corner.
If you’re a fan of Marvel then you won’t need my recommendation to get yourself a ticket, but if you aren’t such a big Comic fan, I imagine you might find ‘Eternals’ a bit of a stretch to get through. Despite that, it’s always enjoyable watching these superheroes fight it out on the big screen, so if you’re just looking forward to a fun time, you can’t go too far wrong with this latest instalment in the MCU.