If you’re an inveterate Marvel fan expecting to see strong-willed characters making decisive choices between high-intensity CGI action sequences, you may want to think twice before putting down your money to see the franchise’s newest offering, Eternals. The film opens with a crawl to give viewers context to the weighty issues of the cosmos and those apparently in charge, the Celestials. Viewers are also intermittently reminded as to the time period and region of the world where the Eternals are now protecting humans from the galactic antagonists, the Deviants. With a team of ten members arriving on Earth in approximately 5000 BC, the film flashes back and forth telling the history of places they’ve been and the personal backstories of the members while also advancing the urgency of the story at hand in the present day.
There were even points in the film when you had to wonder, “Are they even a team?” Although, after living together for almost 7000 years, it’s easy to understand how you could get fed up with people, right? Leadership was lacking, infighting was evident, and the character anointed to take command had serious doubts until the final act. However, when it counted most, the team did unite and win the day despite suffering losses.
It just seems as if Marvel is biting off far too much in a single movie, it took almost a half dozen before they finally brought The Avengers together, and even then, more and more details got revealed about each character in every subsequent movie. Sure, this film was elegantly shot when it comes to locations and cinematography and even taught audiences a little world history and culture but it was heavy on dialogue and meandered in places.
On the plus side, Marvel assembled a diverse cast that looked more like it walked off an urban street than a small Scandinavian countryside; and they included an openly gay hero and one with a hearing impairment. While the writing wasn’t the greatest, they did continue the Marvel trend by using one or two characters as humorous foils. One huge departure for Marvel in this movie, the first ever on-screen sex scene, albeit most of it is left to the viewer’s imagination.
At the end of the day, with a 2:52 minute run time, the constant bouncing around, needing a scorecard to tell the players and villains apart; it all reminds me of why I only bought one of these comic books in the mid-1970s as a kid. In the end, I can only give Eternals a 2.5 stars, it just doesn’t live up the genre that Marvel has produced all these years, no matter who directed it.