Eternals

Eternals ★★

I think it's time that Marvel stops making movies for a while. Is this the worst MCU movie to date? Absolutely not. There are far more installments of this franchise that deserve the score that Eternals received on Rotten Tomatoes, but don't get me wrong, it most certainly deserves it.

The trailers looked interesting and genuinely promising, and I was excited to see something so different from Marvel, but alas, that didn’t work out. Somehow, what might be the MCU’s most ambitious and different movie winds up feeling the most safe and uninspired.

There are far too many uninteresting characters within Eternals. Having to juggle 10 leads is no small feat, but also needing to introduce their backstories, motivations, character traits, and personal relationships with one another is setting oneself up for disaster. None of the characters feel like characters by the end of this movie; I couldn’t tell you their names for the life of me, let alone any of the abovementioned feats the movie tries to tackle. These “characters” become mouthpieces for endless streams of exposition and it’s of course delivered in the most unimaginative way. Another major flaw that comes from such a large cast is that spending time developing characters prevents the movie from developing its themes. I’ve never seen the MCU tackle ideas of theology, mythology, and the conflicts between determinism and free will before and it's disappointing that Eternals only sparingly addresses them head-on. While I don’t want to be told precisely what themes I’m supposed to think about when watching a film, I do enjoy having them introduced and thoroughly fleshed-out to make the time spent teetering around them feel worthwhile as opposed to padding for the story.

I’m surprised that the CGI and cinematography are actually competent. Aside from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Eternals is perhaps the most visually appealing film in the MCU to look at. For instance, the scale of these characters, especially the Celestial, were well-captured and awe-inspiring, even on a small TV screen that I watched this on. Even the generic CGI final battle that comes at the end of every MCU movie is genuinely the most engaged I've been in an MCU final battle in years (rather than feeling obligated to be amazed by the spectacle).

This is the only Phase 4 property that warranted being a miniseries as opposed to a movie. Each episode could have been focused on an individual Eternal which would demonstrate their perspective changes throughout time, culminating into the present-day events, something I feel would actually create compelling and interesting characters. Or on the other hand, each episode could develop the entire cast in each of the time periods presented in the movie. Either option would've landed itself to a better final product.

As the MCU continues to pump out 9 pieces of content per year, their approach to filmmaking is more than likely geared towards easily digestible fan service (most likely taken from Reddit) as opposed to narratives with fleshed-out characters and themes. This of course being the exact opposite direction the franchise should go. Marvel had a year during the pandemic to reassess the direction that they're heading in, but instead doubled-down and made more of the same stuff as before, and most likely will continue to do so now that they botched their most ambitious project. Once again, maybe Marvel should stop making content for a while.

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