Eternals ★★½

Marvel's Drunk History. A wikipedia scan of a few important events from 7,000 years on Earth with either an inserted group hero shot slapped on it or a solemn humans don’t deserve our technology lamentation in Hiroshima, 1945. It's so much plot and so many characters that it's all pretty much mush despite being the only thing I've wanted from Marvel: a standalone movie. I will say, however, that it's nice to see sexual desire and longing in the MCU, from a quick sex scene to lingering touches. Everyone is hot and the camera knows it. The body connection goes a long way for the third act, a mere glance or quivered tear going much further than all of the combined jokes that don't land. And at least Chloé Zhao introduced Kevin Feige to sunsets, sunbeams, and natural light. It will be forever funny, however, that Kumail Nanjiani got so jacked for this because he's easily the least important character in a team of 10 and is just there to do his Silicon Valley shtick without really ever needing to flex at all. Surely, there's so major dude bro stuff on the cutting room floor. Otherwise he was punked into exercising, changing his diet, and chugging powders for two years, for no reason. (In addition, Barry Keoghan is begging to be a good old-fashioned character actor in an era where the suits are shunning it and I love it.)

In the end, I liked Eternals more than each of the Avengers movies, so I guess that's how I should rate it. There’s plenty to make fun of and it follows a template but at least it’s only reaching to construct new movies in the final minutes. Zhao never loses track of the vastness here and she wisely roots it in interpersonal relationships; even if they lack on the page there are patient shots that tell us more. The post-credit scenes remind us, however, that all of this is just being done to set up another phase of characters even beyond the 10 introduced here. Still, despite all the evidence saying audiences will only show up for serial moviemaking, if I ran Hollywood I'd just greenlight a sexy R-rated romantic drama or thriller—starring Gemma Chan and Richard Madden—tomorrow. The Eternals want to save humankind because under all the shit there's some worth, so prove their test right by audiences getting some taste and watching some theatrical one-off original dramas, not just soap opera spectacle/episodic TV in the theaters. C'mon! Everything that happens after the 145-minute mark(!!) is just a tune-in next year!

Hemming and hawing aside—like the movie—I believe that Salma Hayek could've ushered in multiple societies across the galaxy for thousands upon thousands of years.

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