Reel Opinions


Friday, November 05, 2021

Eternals


In the past, Marvel Studios has shown great skill at introducing some of their lesser known comic creations to mass audiences on the big screen.  There's obviously the Guardians of the Galaxy, or a more recent example being Shang-Chi.  Now here is Eternals, and I'm honestly curious how the blockbuster crowd is going to react to this.  Not because it's a bad movie, because it's really not.  It just aims to be much more reflective and character-driven than your average superhero movie. 

The question here is was ChloĆ© Zhao, the recent Oscar Winner for Nomadland, the right choice to helm a blockbuster movie, and that's difficult to answer.  She definitely brings a sense of style and beauty here than what we normally get from Marvel.  She also seems to be trying to challenge our expectations of a superhero movie, by having its heroes be uncertain if humanity and Earth itself is worth saving, leading to infighting among them.  And she also tries to give the audience what they usually come for in these movies, such as world-shattering stakes, an apocalyptic threat, and a dry sense of humor that is worked throughout the script.  Whether or not these elements mix is the test.  To me, at least, the combo works in an uneven kind of way.  I admire what Zhao is doing, but it does occasionally lead to some awkward moments that don't stick the landing fully.  I was never bored, and the stakes the characters were facing was enough to grab me, but I never felt that rush of exhilaration that the better entries in the Cinematic Universe offer.

Even though the plot and the film itself covers countless centuries, it's really quite simple when you boil it down to its basics.  Long story short, god-like beings known as Celestials have been keeping order in the galaxy since the beginning of time, and the being who is tasked with watching over Earth is Arishem.  When humanity on Earth was threatened by some predatory monsters known as Deviants, he sent 10 immortal beings down to Earth known as Eternals to wipe out the threat.  The mission of the Eternals has been to wipe out the Deviants, and help humans evolve and prosper, all without actually getting involved or interfering with our wars or battles.  They have the ability to control minds, and even change the course of nature, but they must limit themselves, and let humanity grow on its own.  That explains why these immortal beings with incredible powers have been living among us since the beginning, but have never tried to use their powers to stop our wars, or solve that messy Thanos business that the Avengers had to deal with.

The leader of the Eternals is Ajak (Salma Hayek), who speaks directly to Arishem, and gives his orders to her fellow immortals, which include the warrior Thena (Angelina Jolie), the protective Gilgamesh (Don Lee), Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) who can run at blinding speed, the powerful Ikaris (Richard Madden), who is probably the strongest of them all and is often compared to Superman, Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) is a skilled inventor who passes his advanced technology onto humanity, Sprite (Lia McHugh) is eternally in the form of an adolescent, and can create powerful illusions, Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) can harness energy in his hands, and the seemingly ever-brooding Druig (Barry Keoghan) who can control minds, and really wishes he could just control all humans to stop their endless fighting and wars, and needs to be reminded that he's not supposed to interfere.

But the main one the film chooses to focus on is the gentle Sersi (Gemma Chan).  She has amazing elemental powers, and as the film opens, has been trying to live a normal life and pass herself off as a human in modern day London.  Her boyfriend (Kit Harington) does have his suspicions, as he's seen her some of her abilities, despite her best efforts to keep them secret.  Her powers and who she is can no longer be hidden when they are attacked by a Deviant on the street, who the Eternals believed were wiped out thousands of years ago.  They have been living among us ever since, but vowed to regroup if the need ever aroused.  The time has come, and Sersi, Sprite and Ikaris begin to travel the globe and tell their fellow Eternals about this new threat, as the Deviants seem to have evolved, and now possess healing abilities, and even the power of speech.  

Even though the plot in Eternals frequently jumps forward and backwards in time, it is to its credit that it's easy to follow, especially when you consider the large number of newly introduced heroes at the center of it that the audience has to keep track of.  I also was gradually pulled into the film, which asks some difficult questions that I was not expecting.  When we learn the true purpose behind the Celestials, the role of the Eternals, and even the roles of the beast-like Deviants, it does make you question just who is right and wrong.  Even the heroes themselves ask this as plot elements that will not be revealed here are uncovered.  I admired that this movie seemed to have a bit more on its mind than I expected walking in.  But will the general audience latch onto that?   We also get to see two of the Eternals engage in PG-13 sex briefly, and another is depicted to be in a same-sex marriage.  It's great to see these things represented, and I kind of wish the movie could have spent a bit more time with them.

However, despite an over two and a half hour run time, the movie does seem a bit rushed.  It knows what the causal Marvel audience has come for, so it does have to get to its apocalyptic climax, which is not quite as loose or out of control as you might expect, and actually features a lot of internal struggles between its heroes, and what is right for the world itself.  This is a movie that wants us to think, and give us a spectacle too.  Other movies have accomplished this, but Zhao and her screenwriters sometimes don't seem too confident.  I had the feeling that she wanted to go deeper with some of her themes, but was also afraid to step a bit too far out of the Marvel Comfort Zone.  This leads to a movie that is sometimes ambitious, sometimes familiar, and sometimes a bit messy, but never boring.  For what it is, I enjoyed it, but it's not about to become one of my favorites, and it doesn't seem as sure as the best Marvel entries are.



I'm kind of rooting that audiences will find something in Eternals to like.  I do want to see these ideas explored more, and maybe expanded.  I think there's a lot that can be done.  This is not the best movie Marvel has done, but it's far from the failure some are labeling it to be.  Maybe this won't wind up being a box office event, and that's okay.  I'm sure the Studio has plenty of those under their hat to come.


0 comments

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005
10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005
11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005
12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006
01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006
02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006
03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006
04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006
05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006
06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006
07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006
08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006
09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006
10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006
11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006
12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007
01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007
02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007
03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007
04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007
05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007
06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007
07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007
08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007
09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007
10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007
11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007
12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008
01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008
02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008
03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008
04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008
05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008
06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008
07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008
08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008
09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008
10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008
11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008
12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009
01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009
02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009
03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009
04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009
05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009
06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009
07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009
08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009
09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009
10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009
11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009
12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010
01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010
02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010
03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010
04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010
05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010
06/01/2010 - 07/01/2010
07/01/2010 - 08/01/2010
08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010
09/01/2010 - 10/01/2010
10/01/2010 - 11/01/2010
11/01/2010 - 12/01/2010
12/01/2010 - 01/01/2011
01/01/2011 - 02/01/2011
02/01/2011 - 03/01/2011
03/01/2011 - 04/01/2011
04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011
05/01/2011 - 06/01/2011
06/01/2011 - 07/01/2011
07/01/2011 - 08/01/2011
08/01/2011 - 09/01/2011
09/01/2011 - 10/01/2011
10/01/2011 - 11/01/2011
11/01/2011 - 12/01/2011
12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012
01/01/2012 - 02/01/2012
02/01/2012 - 03/01/2012
03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012
04/01/2012 - 05/01/2012
05/01/2012 - 06/01/2012
06/01/2012 - 07/01/2012
07/01/2012 - 08/01/2012
08/01/2012 - 09/01/2012
09/01/2012 - 10/01/2012
10/01/2012 - 11/01/2012
11/01/2012 - 12/01/2012
12/01/2012 - 01/01/2013
01/01/2013 - 02/01/2013
02/01/2013 - 03/01/2013
03/01/2013 - 04/01/2013
04/01/2013 - 05/01/2013
05/01/2013 - 06/01/2013
06/01/2013 - 07/01/2013
07/01/2013 - 08/01/2013
08/01/2013 - 09/01/2013
09/01/2013 - 10/01/2013
10/01/2013 - 11/01/2013
11/01/2013 - 12/01/2013
12/01/2013 - 01/01/2014
01/01/2014 - 02/01/2014
02/01/2014 - 03/01/2014
03/01/2014 - 04/01/2014
04/01/2014 - 05/01/2014
05/01/2014 - 06/01/2014
06/01/2014 - 07/01/2014
07/01/2014 - 08/01/2014
08/01/2014 - 09/01/2014
09/01/2014 - 10/01/2014
10/01/2014 - 11/01/2014
11/01/2014 - 12/01/2014
12/01/2014 - 01/01/2015
01/01/2015 - 02/01/2015
02/01/2015 - 03/01/2015
03/01/2015 - 04/01/2015
04/01/2015 - 05/01/2015
05/01/2015 - 06/01/2015
06/01/2015 - 07/01/2015
07/01/2015 - 08/01/2015
08/01/2015 - 09/01/2015
09/01/2015 - 10/01/2015
10/01/2015 - 11/01/2015
11/01/2015 - 12/01/2015
12/01/2015 - 01/01/2016
01/01/2016 - 02/01/2016
02/01/2016 - 03/01/2016
03/01/2016 - 04/01/2016
04/01/2016 - 05/01/2016
05/01/2016 - 06/01/2016
06/01/2016 - 07/01/2016
07/01/2016 - 08/01/2016
08/01/2016 - 09/01/2016
09/01/2016 - 10/01/2016
10/01/2016 - 11/01/2016
11/01/2016 - 12/01/2016
12/01/2016 - 01/01/2017
01/01/2017 - 02/01/2017
02/01/2017 - 03/01/2017
03/01/2017 - 04/01/2017
04/01/2017 - 05/01/2017
05/01/2017 - 06/01/2017
06/01/2017 - 07/01/2017
07/01/2017 - 08/01/2017
08/01/2017 - 09/01/2017
09/01/2017 - 10/01/2017
10/01/2017 - 11/01/2017
11/01/2017 - 12/01/2017
12/01/2017 - 01/01/2018
01/01/2018 - 02/01/2018
02/01/2018 - 03/01/2018
03/01/2018 - 04/01/2018
04/01/2018 - 05/01/2018
05/01/2018 - 06/01/2018
06/01/2018 - 07/01/2018
07/01/2018 - 08/01/2018
08/01/2018 - 09/01/2018
09/01/2018 - 10/01/2018
10/01/2018 - 11/01/2018
11/01/2018 - 12/01/2018
12/01/2018 - 01/01/2019
01/01/2019 - 02/01/2019
02/01/2019 - 03/01/2019
03/01/2019 - 04/01/2019
04/01/2019 - 05/01/2019
05/01/2019 - 06/01/2019
06/01/2019 - 07/01/2019
07/01/2019 - 08/01/2019
08/01/2019 - 09/01/2019
09/01/2019 - 10/01/2019
10/01/2019 - 11/01/2019
11/01/2019 - 12/01/2019
12/01/2019 - 01/01/2020
01/01/2020 - 02/01/2020
02/01/2020 - 03/01/2020
03/01/2020 - 04/01/2020
04/01/2020 - 05/01/2020
05/01/2020 - 06/01/2020
06/01/2020 - 07/01/2020
07/01/2020 - 08/01/2020
08/01/2020 - 09/01/2020
09/01/2020 - 10/01/2020
10/01/2020 - 11/01/2020
11/01/2020 - 12/01/2020
12/01/2020 - 01/01/2021
02/01/2021 - 03/01/2021
03/01/2021 - 04/01/2021
04/01/2021 - 05/01/2021
05/01/2021 - 06/01/2021
06/01/2021 - 07/01/2021
07/01/2021 - 08/01/2021
08/01/2021 - 09/01/2021
09/01/2021 - 10/01/2021
10/01/2021 - 11/01/2021
11/01/2021 - 12/01/2021

Powered by Blogger