Eternals ★½

This hurts. Since getting into film towards the end of 2020, I have avoided rewatching a lot of the MCU as I feel that I will be far too harsh looking through a filmmaking lens. I would rather cherish my memories of the worlds I was able to immerse myself in as a kid. Eternals did not help with this situation, and has greatly increased my pessimism for the future of the MCU.

While I have not read any of Jack Kirby’s original run, I have read a significant chunk of Marvel’s cosmic universe. There is so much that goes into the world building of the cosmic universe in the comics. There are obviously books established in the cosmic universe like Guardians of the Galaxy, Silver Surfer, and the Fantastic Four. But there are also some more flagship titles like X-Men and The Avengers that have seeds of the cosmos planted within. My point is that there is a lot of creative talent and time that goes into this vast universe. Chloe Zhao is burdened with the task of compressing so much into one film, so it is not much of a surprise that the final product was extremely disappointing.

Chloe Zhao is a great director and has a knack for writing deep, emotional characters. Not all directors style translates well to the blockbuster genre though. There is no doubt that Zhao sets up some magnificent shots and scenery, but other than the more flashy elements of the direction, the film falls flat.

The script is just abysmal at times. The grandiose scope of this films concept is not captured at all. The film is obviously more focused on the character’s interactions, but none of the dialogue shines with Zhao’s touch. The moments that do start to get emotional, are ruined by terribly written humor. This is not an exaggeration at all, as it literally happens countless times throughout the film. It is extremely aggravating and really goes to show that Marvel is really forcing the comedy for some strange reason.

The cast does their best with what they have to work with. They all help to add some emotion to the shallow script, and redeem some of the poorly written humor. Nanjiani is always funny no matter what, even when some of the humor is juvenile. When not terribly timed, I had a lot of fun with Nanjiani’s character and his assistant. Brian Tyree Henry steals the show with a very emotional performance. Henry fleshes out his character with expressions alone, more than the script ever did. There is a solid dynamic across the cast, but it is restricted by the lacking script.

While the film looks fantastic, I can’t even talk about the visuals without bringing some mixed aspects. The creature design was lazy and uninspired. They obviously are meant to be mindless creatures at first, but the designs felt too generic. The action scenes, while they may look nice, are generic, bland, and at times a chore to get through.

The frame for the plot really took the MCU’s cliched formula to another level. Not only does this film follow the typical structure of the MCU, it is also a getting the team back together film. This structured has been used tirelessly in so many superhero films, and does nothing unique here. The ending fight is exactly what one would expect, and holds no tension.

Marvel clearly has hit a bump, post Endgame. It feels like they are scrambling to recreate the success of the last saga. They are jumping the gun too soon though, because this film could’ve been something if it was built out to more. Unfortunately Marvel is impatient and greedy, not taking the time or effort to give their films a much needed freshness.

The post credits scene was a fitting end to this travesty of a film. Feels like a another ridiculous attempt at humor from Marvel, that crosses the line. It’s cool to finally see Oswalt in a super hero film, but it couldn’t have been done in a more disappointing way.

This is the first time I have left an MCU movie fuming with rage. Eternals may be more well made from a visual standpoint than a lot of the MCU, but it is easily the worst MCU film. While there are many low tier MCU film that left me feeling empty and unsatisfied, Eternals establishes a new low. 1.5/5

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