Eternals ★★★

Chloé Zhao, our reigning Best Director champ for her naturalistic work in Nomadland, tries her luck in the expansive Marvel Universe through the story of a team of ancient aliens (Eternals) bound to fight against mankind’s most ancient enemies (the Deviants). This superhero epic Eternals carries the same complaints we have against these Marvel superhero films: stuffy, convoluted, and messy structure of events. However with the touch of Zhao, Eternals takes its heated temperature to a simmering bubble allowing for a more internal look on its characters’ psychologies and motivations.

The naturalistic style of Zhao’s cinema takes shape in the way Eternals introduce its characters. There’s an unusual richness, and emotional clarity to the way these superheroes behave. And even when it’s flawed, and things don’t make sense anymore, Zhao allows breathing ground and silence to sustain the emotional turbulence which are absent in most Marvel films nowadays. I found that refreshing, and very much substantial in execution.

The ensemble cast are splendid. The actors are well-assembled and have great chemistry altogether considering the high wattage presence of Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, and Richard Madden. Gemma Chan becomes the first Asian woman to headline a superhero film, and Chan delivers with her beautiful restraint and emotional depth. In the end, Eternals is actually surprising and satisfying. I’m not sure how I relate to the hate towards it, but I love the slow rhythm that it has, and I got to understand the characters’ intentions more vividly and carefully.

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