2 hours 36 minutes, Nov 2021, K-12
The Story: Following the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019), an unexpected tragedy forces the Eternals, ancient aliens who have been living on Earth in secret for thousands of years, out of the shadows to reunite against mankind’s most ancient enemy, the Deviants.
I don’t know the Eternals comics, so I can say with certainty that it’s still easy to follow the story (by the way, I hadn’t read any Iron Man, Spiderman, Thor and Captain America or Avengers comics before watching the movies either).
However, I found it difficult to keep track of the characters at first – you have to get to know so many of them. Later it felt difficult to attach when these super-beings treat humans so condescendingly – a bit like pets to be house-trained … as if humanity never gets anything done without the Eternals. Translated to colonialism / racism, this exposes unpleasant realities* but despite their role as protectors, you don’t necessarily start liking the Eternals. In other words, there’s a real identification figure missing, at least until the focus is set on Sersi (Gemma Chan) and Ikaris (Richard Madden).
Only “Kingo” Kumail Najiani scores immediately with his quirky personality and charisma (although he doesn’t treat his pal Karun any better). Humor and the tragedy of eg. a 7000 year old being looking like a child, or “can an Eternal love a human” make you slowly warm up to the various characters. Thanks to flashbacks, Ajak (Salma Hayek), Gilgamesh (Ma Dong-seok) and Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) develop into truly likeable heroes. Only Barry Keoghan (Druig) remained too wooden and inaccessible for me. Others should have had more scenes (Lauren Ridloff, Kit Harington).
What I really enjoyed was the references to legends (Gilgamesh, Icarus etc) and actual history, as well as the story which is rich in surprises. An additional tragic aspect emerged concerning the Deviants … and are Eternals really better off than their “pets” ? And that’s all I want to say about the plot.
All in all, not a bad film and I find nothing to complain about the story, the director, the cast or visual effects – e.g. the opening sequence, HELL YEAH – and the 2.5 hours don’t drag on. The soundtrack provides some great moments too (e.g. Pink Floyd). But somehow I could not connect like with other Marvel movies before.
Probably it’s really just the Eternals characters as such. Just compare (thanks to CGI) scrawny Chris Evans as the future Captain America, the wonderfully chaotic “Spiderman” Tom Holland or Chris Hemsworth as Thor, so lost and clumsy without his godlike powers on Earth – all of them anything but perfect super beings and therefore instantly adorable.
There are some really bad reviews out by now – I can’t quite understand it, because this is certainly not the worst Marvel film. It’s definitely worth watching and you should definitely choose the IMAX 3D version because of those EPIC space scenes.
Director: Chloé Zhao
Writers: Chloé Zhao, Patrick Burleigh, Ryan Firpo,
Kaz Firpo, based on Marvel characters created by Jack Kirby
Gemma Chan … Sersi
Richard Madden … Ikaris
Angelina Jolie … Thena
Salma Hayek … Ajak
Kit Harington … Dane Whitman
Kumail Nanjiani … Kingo
Lia McHugh … Sprite
Brian Tyree Henry … Phastos
Lauren Ridloff … Makkari
Barry Keoghan … Druig
Ma Dong-seok … Gilgamesh (as Don Lee)
Harish Patel … Karun
* Many unpleasant truths should now even be banned from basic history classes in the US altogether. Good that at least Marvel and the Eternals fill some potential information gaps….