“Boring.” “A waste of time.” “Slow.”
These are some of the descriptions that many critics have given to Marvel’s newest entry in its cinematic universe, “The Eternals.” But the question remains: are these descriptions an accurate portrayal of the film?
The film is incredibly high concept. This is the largest ensemble cast for a so-far-standalone feature within the MCU with 10 main characters. That’s not counting “Avengers: Endgame,” because that film built up its roster over a number of years. This film throws all these characters at the audience, and each one ticks off a nice box of intersectional demographics.
This is by far the most diverse cast for a single film produced by Marvel. There are characters with varying lifestyles portrayed by actors of varying racial and ethnic backgrounds with a wide variety of communication styles; one character speaks exclusively in sign language.
With a cast this large it’s easy for performances to seem a little wooden and bland; for the most part that isn’t the case. Many of the characters are performed by competent actors who bring gravitas to their respective roles. One notable example is Richard Madden (“Game of Thrones”) as Ikaris.
Perhaps what makes this particular movie seem less enjoyable than previous entries in the franchise is the span of history and pacing used by Oscar-Winning Director Chloé Zhao. While set in the present day, the film has many flashbacks to events as far back as the dawn of civilization on Earth (7,000 BC).
Actually, it was really fascinating to see how the Eternals‘ existence is woven into the history of the franchise.
What it really boils down to is that “The Eternals” is different from other Marvel Studios movies. Other entries like “The Avengers” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” have a more high-octane, frenetic pacing; this film is deliberate and methodical in its delivery.
While there is some humor in the dialogue, it’s not as rampant and quippy as some of the films involving Iron Man. There’s a more serious tone to the story because of a cataclysmic world-ending event — they’re all world-ending events but this one far more cataclysmic.
There are a lot of questions the audience is left with: why didn’t the Eternals help fight Thanos if his goal directly opposed their mission to ensure Earth’ high population? Why does Gemma Chan’s Sersei look remarkably similar to a certain Kree character (Minn-Erva) whom the actress portrayed in “Captain Marvel?”
Perhaps there’s enough suspension of disbelief to ignore those thoughts until after the end credits. Ultimately, the film isn’t boring, it’s just different from what we’ve come to expect from an MCU film.
It’s beautifully shot, the score fits well even if the music is forgettable and less iconic than the theme from “Avengers.” But what makes it most different is the fact that it’s essentially a morality tale about a god’s (lower case g) disciples trying to decide if they should fulfill a mission predicated on the axiom “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
Forget naysayers like Rotten Tomatoes and let your conscience decide: if you’re interested, go see the movie. Or not. It’s your choice… don’t let a fridge full of “spoiled produce” sway you from seeing the movies you want to see.
Garrett K. Jones is a local fantasy author. He currently has four books released in his ongoing series, and he produces a vlog on YouTube and the Creator’s Corner podcast (available on Spotify, Google, & Apple). www.archivesofthefivekingdoms.com/ IG/Twitter: @gkj_publishing
Feel free to contact him with title suggestions of films you’d like him to review.