Eternals (2021) Review

The Marvel Cinematic Universe shows no signs of slowing down with the release of the new film Eternals further adding to the franchise. Directed by academy award winner Chloé Zhao, Eternals has its moments but does not feel like anything truly special. 

The film follows the titular Eternals, 10 superpowered individuals that are sent down to Earth to protect the human race from the monstrous Deviants. After spending thousands of years on Earth blending in to their surroundings and leading normal lives, the characters are brought back into action when the Deviants resurface.  

The film predominantly follows three members of the team: Sersi (Gemma Chan), Ikaris (Richard Madden) and Sprite (Lia McHugh) on their journey across the globe to reassemble the other members of their group: Thena, Gilgamesh, Kingo, Druig, Makarri and Phastos.

Each Eternal has their own personal drama and own motivation, all of which are mildly compelling enough to be someone’s favourite character, mine being deaf speedster Makkari, played by Lauren Ridloff. 

At a runtime of two hours and 37 minutes, Eternals has a lot going on. The viewer is taken through many different time periods where we see the character’s interactions with multiple dynasties and conflicts that have occurred over the duration of human history. This repeated back and forth, whilst adding character exposition, can start to make the film to drag. 

One aspect of Eternals that truly makes it stand out are the visuals. The cinematography is stellar and each character’s powers feel unique enough to give a sense of individuality.  

However, whilst being a visually striking film, at times Eternals struggled to keep me engaged in the way that a team-up film with a diverse cast ideally should.

The family element creates heart-warming moments but at times it was hard to resonate with the characters. Maybe this is because they were all introduced at once, while a team like The Avengers gave audiences characters that we were already familiar with.

Nevertheless, other films such as X-Men (2000) and Guardians of the Galaxy were able to create striking balances with characters that were not as well-known at their time of release. 

Ikarus (left) and Sersi (right) played by Richard Madden and Gemma Chan
Photo: Walt Disney Studios/Marvel Studios/Moviestore/Shutterstock

Introducing 10 main characters in one film was always going to be a difficult job and this is made clear with some characters feeling as though they lack an arc or any kind of development. This is disappointing as there were some powerful themes portrayed exceptionally, but others felt unexplored while the film instead focussed on exposition which disrupted the pace.  

Ultimately, I think that Eternals should have been kept simple, especially coming from a group of characters that are not as important or widely explored in the comic books that they are based on. It was an ambitious effort and has its moments but is brought down by too much exposition and a noticeably lengthy runtime.

Rating: Three out of five stars 

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