Eternals

Eternals ★½

Show, Don't Tell.

With a lot to accomplish in its runtime, and that alone is no mean feat for any filmmaker. While much in Eternals is accomplished skillfully it’s ultimately a messy, inconsistent affair. The cement-slow pace and exposition that just went on and on was a test of patience. It also suffers from Marvel's villain problem.

For all its flaws in plot and pacing, Eternals is a beautifully shot movie. The cinematography is where's Zhao's directorial voice is most strongly and clearly felt. She bathes scene after scene in the last rays of sunsets, and places her characters small in the frame so they get dwarfed by the vast landscapes of a desert oasis, a volcanic island, or the American prairie.

Zhao carries over her love for shooting on location in the golden hour, Eternals has epic vistas and is beautiful to look at, and there is a tangible feeling to some of its settings. It's easily the most gorgeous MCU film to date, and the stark, lonely beauty of the places she captures can't help but color the mood of the film, gently underscoring the loneliness of immortal life, and the desire to retreat from the noise of humanity.

Eternals tries to be too much -- and it suffers for it. The film’s lofty goal of being a creation myth for the Marvel universe has potential, but it’s far too much to cram into the constraints of a modern superhero film. It’s no use seeing where these heroes came from if we don’t have enough time to care about who they actually are.

Eternals attempts to stand apart from other MCU entries but it's still very much a Marvel movie. That might be comforting for those who really like the Marvel formula and disheartening for others hoping to finally get a truly different MCU film.

Eternals could have worked had it spent as much time in the writing room as it did in the VFX studio.

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