Eternals is an epic sci-fi adventure and different from other Marvel Studios films as Chloé Zhao puts her own mark on the MCU.
If you do not read any further, there are mid-credits and post-credit scenes. When it comes to the mid- and post-credit scenes, I have questions. I will not get into those questions right now in case you still need to see the film.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 previously introduced Marvel fans to the Celestials. We only knew about Ego but it turns out Ego is not alone in that regard. It is the Celestials that created the Eternals and sent them from planet Olympia to protect humanity from the Deviants. The Deviants were thought to be wiped out a few centuries earlier but they’re back with the Emergence being days away from destroying all life as we know it. If it is not Thanos, someone else is always trying to destroy earth. Don’t they have another planet they could go after? Oh, right. Anyway, I think Jack Kirby would be proud of Eternals. Not just that but the the fact that this film spans time allows the MCU to explore beyond just post-WWII. We get glimpses of Mesopotamia, Babylon, etc.
Going after auteur filmmakers is one of the best things for the direction of the MCU. We’ve seen how Taika Waititi brought his brand of humor in Thor: Ragnarok. This time around, it’s Chloé Zhao bringing her brand of filmmaking. If you know Marvel films, they largely depend on green screen action. This isn’t so much the case here. While it’s no joke that there is a lot of visual effects in the film, Zhao goes for practicality on location where possible. I love that she shoots on location as much as possible. This helps for some beautiful imagery, too. Zhao may be a newcomer to the MCU but Ben Davis is a veteran cinematographer for the franchise.
This is an all-star cast but it may feel like the Gemma Chan and Richard Madden show since Sersin (Gemma Chan) and Ikaris (Richard Madden) dominate the screen. This isn’t to say the others don’t get enough screen time because there is plenty to go around. This is a heavier ensemble film than Avengers or Guardians. There are so many members of the Eternals! And yet, they all get their moments to shine on screen. What sets them apart from the other groups is the Uni-Mind. This allows them to pool their cosmic energy in order to amplify someone’s individual power.
What I love the most about the cast is the diversity. It’s international, too. But just as importantly, their membership is split equally across the board with five men and five women. Together, they’re a family unit. Like any family unit, they certainly have their fights. Oh, do they ever! There’s also moments of comic relief with how Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) brings along his valet and makes a documentary. If there is not a documentary among the bonus features, Marvel is missing a real opportunity! Anyway, the casting also brings some firsts. We have the first deaf character in Makkari (Lauren Ridloff). Previous MCU films have gay or bisexual characters. However, this is the first on-screen kiss between two gay characters, one of which is Eternals member Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry).
Eternals utilizes the London area, the UK, and the Canary Islands to double for other cities around the globe. For instances, Phastos resides in present day Chicago but don’t expect to see his home in the Windy City. No, it’s a private home in Surrey. You could have fooled me though!
The film is over two and half hours but it is a quick two and a half hours though. That being said, there really is not a good time to go to the restroom during the film. I should note that press screenings did not include trailers.
It may a matter of time before the Eternals return but Chloé Zhao and this cast take the MCU in a promising direction. Zhao manages to find the right mix of humanity and science fiction in Eternals while taking audiences on an adventure.
DIRECTOR: Chloé Zhao
SCREENWRITERS: Chloé Zhao and Chloé Zhao & Patrick Burleigh and Ryan Firpo & Kaz Firpo
CAST: Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, with Kit Harington, Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie
Marvel releases Eternals in theaters on November 5, 2021.
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