Eternals – movie review

Eternals is the 25th special effects extravaganza in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). But its storyline doesn’t sustain its bloated running time. That storyline, which introduces ten new superheroes, harks back to the return of half the population in Avengers: Endgame (2019).

The return ignited “the emergence”. Now, the Celestials, who have secretly lived on Earth for 7,000 plus years, have created an immortal alien race, known as the Eternals. The Eternals reunite to protect humanity from their evil counterparts, the Deviants. Their wise leader is mother figure Ajak (Salma Hayek). Sersi (Gemma Chan) is empathetic and has a strong connection to humans and the Earth. She has been in love with Ikaris (Richard Madden) for centuries. He is one of the most powerful Eternals – he can fly and project cosmic energy beams from his eyes.

Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) fires projectiles from his hands and when he is not saving the world, he’s a Bollywood actor. He’s trailed throughout his missions by videographer Karun (Harish Patel). Sprite (Lia McHugh) can project life-like illusions and has the physical appearance of a 12-year-old. Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) is a weapons and technology inventor and the first superhero to be depicted as gay in an MCU film. Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) has super speed and is the first deaf superhero in the MCU.

Gilgamesh (Don Lee) has super strength. He has the ability to take out his enemies with a single punch. He’s a friend and protector of Thena. An elite warrior, Thena (Angelina Jolie) can form a weapon – being a sword – out of cosmic energy. Druig (Barry Keoghan) can manipulate minds and presents as aloof. Then there is a human in Dane Whitman (Kit Haringon), who works at the Natural History Museum in London and is dating Sersi.

Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) co-wrote the screenplay and directs. At more than two and a half hours long, I found Eternals really tried my patience. Not surprisingly, it also sets up a sequel. On that note, stay until the end because there’s a snippet post credits.

It’s not the first time on film that we have seen the scenario of aliens protecting Earth while presenting as humans. The movie takes place in many different time periods across history as well as in the present. I found the narrative arc difficult to follow. There are love affairs, spats and turncoats. And what would a MCU movie be without lashes of good humour.

Nothing wrong with the performances of the diverse ensemble cast. But I felt a significant edit could have resulted in a more enjoyable cinematic experience.

Alex First

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