Tiger at The Theater – Eternals

BY RICARDO LUJAN JR

Jumping back into the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, Eternals has been released in theaters. Eternals introduces a huge group of characters into the MCU. How does the film compare to the rest of Marve’s collection? Let’s find out.

Basic Info

Runtime 

Eternals runtime is 2:37 with a mid-credit scene and a post-credit scene.

Director

Chloe Zhao is the director of the film. Other works of hers include Nomadland, The Rider and Songs My Brothers Taught Me. Zhao has won an Oscar for Best Director for the film, Nomadland.

Cast

Gemma Chan – Sersi

Richard Madden – Ikaris

Angelina Jolie – Thena

Salma Hayek – Ajak

Kumail Nanjiani – Kingo

Lia McHugh – Sprite

Brian Tyree Henry – Phastos

Lauren Ridloff – Makkari

Barry Keoghan – Druig

Ma Dong-seok – Gilgamesh

Story

The story of Eternals is bloated. It tries to fit a lot within its runtime. The film could have benefited from the runtime being extended by even just 10 minutes. The story itself is fine with much more depth to it than a typical MCU film would have. 

The themes present in this film are rather interesting. They center around humans and how we are “flawed” in different ways and how living comes paired with these “flaws”. 

The most bizarre thing this film does is that it almost completely abandons one of its main story points halfway through. That specific plotline goes from being an A plotline to a D plotline by the end. The reason this is done is for a plot twist and the plot twist is surprising.

This whole twist could have been executed better by having the previously mentioned plot-line dealt with and having the audience wonder “What now?” rather than pushing the plotline back in terms of importance thus having it continuously take up precious time in an already bloated story. Taking into consideration what the film is trying to do, this was always going to be an issue especially with some of the characters.  

Characters

Eternals introduces the viewer to a whole new group of 10 characters called the Eternals. This is the largest group that has been introduced at once in an MCU film.

The Avengers (2012) had six members in their first group movie. The Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) had five members in its first movie. Avengers benefitted from the previous movies that came before it establishing their main characters allowing the plot of the film to skip that character establishment. The only character from the original Avengers that was introduced in that film was Hawkeye.

In Guardians of the Galaxy, the viewer was introduced to the entire team and despite the five characters that needed to be introduced and developed within two hours, the film handled it quite well. Eternals has the difficult task of doing the same thing that Guardians did but with double the amount of characters.

As a whole, the team dynamic is amazing. The chemistry between the members of the group is immediately evident. The viewer gets the sense the characters have been working with each other for years. For the characters by themselves, this is where the movie struggles.

Eternals is ambitious for attempting to juggle a huge amount of main characters. It sacrifices some of the character’s development in order to cut down on the runtime. The film would have to be closer to four hours to fully develop all of the cast. The characters that received the most development time are more important to the overall plot of the film.

Unfortunately, the most interesting characters of the group were not given the time to fully develop with one of them not even getting any development in the film. The characters that had to have their development cut short were the most interesting ones. Their plotlines being rushed or not being given one is a detriment to the film, however, all of the Eternals shined in the action scenes. 

Action

The action in Eternals is top-notch work from the MCU. Each of the Eternals themselves has a unique ability that compliments the team as a whole. The visual cues given to the characters to signify the use of their abilities when they are not in their battle uniforms was a nice touch.

One aspect of the action that stands out is the difference of action that is shown throughout the film. There are sequences where the combat is choreographed and it looks good. It’s intense and done well using the abilities of certain characters in creative ways.

There are some sequences where the action is much more visceral. The feeling of desperation as the characters do everything in their power to survive and win the fight. This is something that the MCU has never really shown in their actions scenes. One of the only other instances where this feeling is conveyed in the MCU is from the final fight in Captain America: Civil War.

The best aspect of the action from Eternals is the way they show the ability of super speed. This interpretation of one of the common super abilities shown in films is spectacular. Most visual media portrays super speed by slowing everything down around the speedster. Eternals does the opposite and shows the ability from the viewpoint of everyone else. In fights, the viewer gets to see just how powerful a speedster can be. This aspect of the film is one that other films and shows should look to emulate or copy. The cinematography played a big part in showcasing the speed as well.

Cinematography 

The cinematography of this film really sets it apart from the rest of the MCU. Chloe Zhao did a phenomenal job with the look of the film. A good recent comparison of the look of the film is Dune (2021). There is quite a bit of similarity between the two films with the way they are shot and the use of lighting to enhance scenes. Moving forward, the MCU would benefit greatly if the cinematography follows more of what Eternals did. 

As mentioned earlier, the stellar cinematography was just one of the aspects in creating the best version of superspeed to grace the silver screen. It also elevated the combat as it helps bring to life that visceral feeling of survival in some of the action scenes.  

Conclusion

Eternals is a fine addition to the MCU. It may not be the best film the MCU has to offer due to the bloated storyline and sidelining of main characters, but it still ranks within the top half of the MCU films. It accomplished bringing a new set of lore to the MCU and sets up for really interesting storylines to follow in the future. Eternals is currently playing at the Hays AMC Theater. 

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