The Reel Review
Oscar winner Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) puts her stamp on the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in this thought-provoking tale about the world-building immortal beings, the Eternals, who become embroiled in a battle to save Earth after their arch rivals, the Deviants, start wreaking havoc around the planet.
History buffs will relish how Zhao fleshes out the backstories of the Eternals and the roles they have played in shaping the planet’s history over the past 7000 years. The story from Zhao, Patrick Burleigh and Ryan and Kaz Firpo tackles some pretty heady subjects concerning the origin of the Universe and Earth’s relatively tiny role in it. Marvel fans looking for the now formulaic CGI extravaganza will be annoyed with the first hour of this more unpredictable, thinking person’s superhero film.
The best part of Eternals is the life affirming, positivity about life on Earth and the diversity represented among the Eternals. Bigger name stars such as Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek share screen time with an equally strong supporting cast – Kumail Nanjiani, Bryan Tyree Henry, Lia McHugh, Ma Dong-seok and Lauren Ridloff.
The worst part of Eternals is the often painfully corny attempts at humor – some of the dialogue truly is painful – along with an overlong, two and a half hour run time. (And that doesn’t even include the two post credits end scenes.) But with all of its twists and turns, the clever, head spinner of a story will keep viewers engaged right up to its entertaining ending.
• Chloé Zhao is the third Oscar winner and first Best Director Oscar winner, for 2020’s Nomadland, to direct a Marvel film. Joe Johnston, who won a Visual Effects Oscar for 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, directed 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger and Taika Waititi, who won a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for 2019’s Jojo Rabbit, directed 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok.
• This is the second time Richard Madden and Kit Harington have starred together after appearing as Robb Stark and Jon Snow in HBO’s Game of Thrones.
• Deaf actress Lauren Ridloff’s character Makkari is the first MCU deaf superhero, with Brian Tyree Henry’s Phastos Marvel’s first gay superhero.