By Ethan Lauren
“Eternals” has a lot to like, albeit with the occasional stumble, as it details the titular group of ten superpowered beings plucked from classic Jack Kirby designs. Directed by Academy Award winner Chloé Zhao, many standout shots of the film come from its beautiful locations and its usage of natural light. There is a sense of scale seldom seen in many of these Marvel movies but given the cosmic nature of the storyline, it is often breathtaking.
The brief rundown of the story is that 7,000 years ago an ancient being—the Celestial Arishem—sent a group of ten Eternals to defend Earth from monsters known as Deviants. Despite being sworn not to interfere with humans, these incorrigible cats occasionally give a nudge to help move humanity along. The movie throws a lot of exposition over the course of almost three hours, but once the pieces are in place the plot becomes quite clear.
Where the film does struggle at points is how it attempts to juggle the ten Eternals, the antagonists, and many side characters. The film’s protagonist, Gemma Chan’s Cersei, has the strongest fondness for humans and is torn between her love of Earth and her duties as an Eternal. Much of the film’s exposition is propped on Chan’s shoulders, making her character suffer from the burden.
It is daunting to get situated with ten new characters, and it took me until well over the midpoint of the film before I learned all their names and powers. Iron Man was just one dude in a metal suit!
Other standout performances include Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, who has used his immortal life to become a Bollywood star. Don Lee’s Gilgamesh was a delight for every second he was on screen. In fact, every Eternal won me over by the end of the film and I wished I had been given more with them.
One inclusion that failed to work was Kit Harington’s character Dane Whitman. It seemed a strange choice to bank on a character who contributed so little to the plot. Harington is charming, however, so I give a little pass for him, and now Kevin Feige won’t have to waste any footage introducing the character when Harington is given his inevitable standalone story.
There is a point in the story where it implies that these fictional characters contributed to one of the most horrifying moments in human history, yet it seemed unnecessarily poignant for a movie that makes a joke every other line.
Lastly, the film has two end-credit scenes, so stick around—both being quite enjoyable, with the first forcing many a scream from my theater. For those, like me, who are on the Marvel bandwagon for the long haul, even a more divisive film like “Eternals” is a great addition to a series nearing thirty full-length films. And as a final note, Pink Floyd is featured in the soundtrack, so I give this film two thumbs up on this aspect alone.