Eternals ★★½

Ah, Eternals, the laughing stock of the internet for being the most panned Marvel movie by critics. Also directed by Chloe Zhao, a director who has inexplicably managed to win a bunch of awards in spite of her mediocrity. But although I found the trailers to be overwhelmingly poor, I was willing to give Eternals the benefit of the doubt, since I was proved wrong with No Time To Die and Dune. And surprisingly enough, my feelings on Eternals is rather nuanced, to say the least; though at the same time, I definitely agree with the critics on this one.

Frustratingly enough, there are so many fascinating concepts being juggled here, but all of it is let down by the film being so damn boring. It's not even that there's too many characters, as they're all introduced and developed well, with intriguing quirks and powers to make a fairly solid heart for the film. Nor that the fights are lame, because despite a drab colour palette, the fights contain some fun choreography amidst many very pretty wide shots. The plot is also fairly interesting, because aside from the large, ambitious themes I already mentioned, the narrative does take some rather engaging - albeit laughably predictable - twists. As a sci-fi action movie, Eternals should succeed for me... and yet it doesn't.

What makes Eternals fail, in my eyes, is that it lacks that indescribable quality in a film called 'energy'. Now, 'energy' is a hard thing to try and define, as it's simply the invisible spirit of a film that keeps it feeling alive - the rhythm that gives it that impulse to keep going forward, rather than just drag its feet to the finish line. Needless to say, Eternals lacks this quality, which rather causes all of its grandiosity to feel dreadfully shallow. It's genuinely hilarious just how low in energy Eternals is, with all of the scenes taking such a woefully roundabout way to get to the point, the pauses during fights feeling embarassingly awkward, the occassionally beautiful visuals never managing to find purchase in something tangible, and the dialogue becoming a terribly dreary afair that even seemed to be boring the cast. It does get somewhat better as the film progresses to its inevitably bombastic climax, but the journey to get there could be such a pain at times.

Even though I did not like Zhao's Eternals, I do still somewhat respect it for what it tries to accomplish, even if Zhao executes it pretty incompetently. This film does admittedly have a lot of potential, and with another draft of the screenplay - alongside a better director to helm the project - I could see this being an incredible addition to the MCU in much the same way as Shang Chi was able to accomplish. But eventhough all of the parts to make a great movie are there, Eternals just doesn't succeed to bring it all together in a satisfying enough manner.

I give Eternals... a D2+

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