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ETERNALS (2021)


Arina
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Overlong and dull, Eternals fails to do much with its group of third string superheroes, save for how to create a comic book movie void of charisma and excitement.

The Marvel Universe is filled with all matter of superhero, yet when it comes to film, not all heroes are created equal. Eternals is the latest case in point.

Created by legendary comic book creator Jack Kirby, this group of super powered beings sure do look the part, yet in the Chloe Zhao directed Eternals they have the personality of paint drying on a wall. Even the presence of superstar actors Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek can’t inject life into this 156-minute snore fest of routine stakes and plodding storytelling.

Eternals follows a group of immortal alien beings – among them Sersi (Gemma Chan), Ikaris (Richard Madden), Thena (Angelina Jolie) and Ajak (Salma Hayek) – who are tasked by celestial overlord Arishem with protecting mankind from their monstrous counterparts, the Deviants. After centuries of living amongst humans, the Eternals band together once again to take on a new menace that threatens (shock! horror!) to end the world.

Director Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) has delivered something of a best-of superhero cliché movie, with the usual tropes of free will and “great power and great responsibility” the films central themes yet executed better in other films in its genre.

While costume design by Sammy Sheldon (The Imitation Game) and cinematography by Ben Davis (Doctor Strange) delivers an aesthetically pleasing film, there is little to no substance to its story and even less entertainment quality in how it is executed. Try as Marvel must to present a diverse group of superheroes with every gender/race/sexuality box ticked, these characters are as vanilla as they come. Character development is sparse, narrative stakes are lacklustre, jokes fall flat, and the action scenes are almost criminal it its boredom.

Worst of all is that Zhao, who has made a name for herself as an award-winning indie director with Nomadland and The Rider to her name, must take on a superhero movie to (seemingly, assumingly) give her career “mainstream” credibility. Whether it be the material is underneath her, or simply went over her head, the reality is Eternals is a poor match of filmmaker and genre, with the only thing “super” about it is its ability to cure insomnia.

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