Directed by Chloe Zhao
Let’s get this out of the way up top. Eternals is not a good movie. It’s not a good comic book movie, it’s not a good action movie, it’s not a good Marvel movie. It somehow feels overstuffed and empty at the same time. It’s muddled and convoluted. It’s a bland and boring and bewildering mess. It’s overlong but even with an hour cut out of its running time, Eternal would probably still feel too long.
So, what is Eternals about? About 7,000 years ago, a bunch of superpowered beings were dispatched to Earth to protect humanity from the Deviants. They can’t interfere with anything else because that would be bad. But they can interfere in our technological evolution because… reasons. And hand on heart, they can’t interfere in humanity’s progress in any other way. Except romance. Romance is fine. But, really, no interference at all no matter what. So, yeah. I don’t know. None of it makes any darn sense.
Anyway. The group of Eternals are sitting around on Earth and definitely not interfering except for the dating and tech and such when like 500 years after they killed the last of the Deviants another one shows up and we're off to the races. Did I mention the “world-wide earthquake”? No? Okay. There’s a world-wide earthquake. And then the new Deviant shows up. Stuff happens and there are twists and some of them don’t make a lick of sense.
The movie has a structure that definitely looks good on paper. It jumps back and forth through time, showing the Eternals at different events in history. Problem in execution is that it’s like watching a high-light reel of a movie series that never was.
Eternals is home to some of the worst dialogue in an MCU film yet. I’m not saying that the MCU films have been home to the great screen dialogue of the century, but for a genre where more time is spent on previsualization and stunt work than character moments, the MCU films have had some great character moments with some solid dialogue. The powers that be at the MCU have consistently recognized that the heart of a movie is almost as important as the set pieces. It’s like all of that has been forgotten with Eternals.
But maybe I’m expecting too much from the people who have consistently delivered great moments over the past 13+ years. Maybe not everyone else is going to these to watch great actors do great work. That leaves us the set pieces, the action, and the stuff blowing up. But it’s all so murky and geographically confused that the set pieces just become noise. There’s no sense of place, of where the heck everyone is during the action. The set pieces are more confusion than exhilaration.
So, yeah. But you’re asking, with nearly 3 hours of confusion and mud filtered action and blandness, the performances have to be great, right? Yeah, I’ve got some bad news. It’s rare to see a bench this deep perform so uninspired.
I don’t know what went sideways during the production of Eternals. It’s not that Eternals is too ambitious and is a glorious failure that falls under the weight of what it’s trying to achieve. Like I said up top, it’s somehow both overstuffed and empty. Things that seem like they’re going to be important are never mentioned again. There’s little continuity between scenes, even in dialogue. Motivations make little to no sense. Twists come and go, and you find yourself thinking “that doesn’t make a lick of sense no-how”.
But I can hear you asking, is Eternals the worst Marvel movie ever? As long as Howard the Duck and Blade: Trinity and the Ghost Rider movies exist, no. The basement is filled with some serious dreck based on Marvel properties. So, no, Eternals isn’t the worst thing ever. I mean, come on, the 2015 Fantastic Four exists. But, damn, it is disappointing.