Eternals – Breaking the Marvel Formula – Film Review

Eternals (2021) - IMDb

Director: Chloé Zhao

Writer: Chloé Zhao, Patrick Burleigh, Ryan Fripo, and Kaz Fripo

Starring: Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kit Harrington, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, and Harish Patel

Rating: ★★★★

The latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been received with mixed reviews, currently the lowest rated MCU film on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s the most divisive film to date in the long running franchise, as it breaks away from the usual formula and becomes something much more unique and exciting. While the humour and fighting are here, the film feels different to what’s come before.

The Eternals arrived on Earth around seven thousand years ago. Their mission is to protect Earth from the Deviants, monsters that feed on humans. While doing this they aren’t allowed to alter the course of human development or meddle in any conflicts. It’s been centuries and the Deviants are long thought to be dead, but the Eternals are still here, some of them have started to live normal human lives. Sersi (Gemma Chan) is a teacher in London, in a relationship with a human, Dane (Kit Harrington). Life is pretty normal, until a Deviant attacks and forces the Eternals to reunite to save the world.

As per usual for a Marvel film, the stakes are high. In this film they feel even higher, helped massively by the large cast of new characters where they genuinely feel like they’re in danger throughout the fights. There isn’t a lot of plot armour here and there are a few shocking moments. It’s a breath of fresh air, as each fight feels dangerous and exciting. Adding to this is the lack of a definitive villain. The story isn’t just good vs evil, there is more of a moral dilemma at play here. It’s an interesting story and co-writer and director Chloé Zhao does a great job at letting you see it from all angles. The objective is to save Earth, but at what cost?

The Eternals themselves are all great. They are the formation of some of our myths and legends, with Ikaris (Richard Madden) and Thena (Angelina Jolie), who would inspire the stories of Icarus and Athena of Greek legend. Kingo (Jumail Nanjiani) has spent his time on Earth creating a dynasty of actors. To stop people getting suspicious, every so often he recreates his image as his son to continue his acting. Kingo is the funniest of the bunch, with most of the laugh out loud moments coming from him. Nanjiani is great in this role, delivering perfect comic timing.

This is a beautiful film, and from Marvel you wouldn’t really accept anything less. The ancient city of Babylon, the CGI fights and creatures all look stunning. Every Marvel film seems to outdo the one that came before when it comes to visuals and this one is great to watch. Everything looks real, and you’re completely swept away into the fantastical world.

Aside from the epic Avengers Endgame, this is the longest Marvel film to date. You do feel the length at points, but it never becomes boring. There is a lot to cram into the runtime, with the development of so many characters. It does a great job of making them all feel important and letting you get to know them all, but there are moments that are heavy on exposition. There probably isn’t a better way to tell this story in a single film, without it becoming even longer. It has a similar runtime to the recent Dune, but in my opinion doesn’t feel as slow paced. It jumps through the seven thousand year history of the Eternals bringing you up to date with their story and making you care enough that the climactic fight feels epic.

Eternals tries to do something different with the MCU. It tells an epic story that spans millennia without feeling like a chore, there is also a lot more depth to the final battle than just good guys punch bad guys. You do completely empathise with both sides. It also sets up sequels that hopefully won’t take long to be made. There are two post-credit scenes, one in the middle of the credits and one at the end, neither are worth staying for.  

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About ashleymanningwriter

Young Adult Fiction writer. Horror and fantasy blended together.
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