Eternals ★★★½

I've really had to let this one sit with me since Thursday.

Eternals is clearly a big swing for the fences for the MCU and while it's undeniably uneven with glaring issues, I still found myself ultimately admiring this effort from the talented visionary Chloe Zhao. It's ambitious and has far more on its mind than many previous MCU entries, for both better & worse. For the most part, the visual work here is top notch and does give off the distinctive feel of a Chloe Zhao project. By far, my biggest praise has to go out to this cast here. Gemma Chan is absolutely delightful and really proves capable of carrying a film of this insane size. Kumail Nanjiani, Barry Keoghan, Lauren Ridloff and Goddess Angelina Jolie deliver some standout work. Some cast members don't fare as other characters feel completely underwritten, but the biggest takeaway I can say is that I left this movie wanting to very much see this cast continue on with these roles. I really do like the world that is set up here and Zhao definitely does inject a beating heart to this film.

This film however is still uneven and even overcooked. As admirable as its ambitions are, it really does feel that Zhao and crew are trying to bite off a little more than they chew even with a 2 and a half hour running time. There is so much lore here the film wants to introduce which makes for a bit too much exposition dump. Excessive exposition isn't something that usually bothers me a great deal, but here it becomes so vastly overwhelming that it really makes me feel that the Eternals franchise may have worked better explored as a series. I love when the characters are just interacting and behaving like a family, but the film introduces so much that it ultimately hampered the emotional core a bit for me. For every unique directions this takes for a Marvel film, I think it still occasionally stumbles into the MCU formula and in particular the climatic showdown didn't quite land for me emotionally as much as it so desperately wants to. I was never bored watching this by any means, but I definitely felt the length here too.

Having said all of that, I still walked away from Eternals appreciating enough elements here and overall still thoroughly enjoying the fascinating if very bumpy ride this film took me on. Is it one of the best films Marvel Studios has ever released? Hell no. Did I walk out of Eternals thinking how it was one of the worst Marvel films ever produced? Hell no. It's very much mid tier MCU and I even look forward to seeing how a second viewing of this could play out.

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