Marvel’s Eternals has a lot to say about what it means to be a human. This film brings the visual spectacle you’d expect, but it unpacks a deeper message about humanity. The amount of heart found at its core is what makes Eternals different from other Marvel films. It might not always hit the mark with its humor, but this is another solid addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Director Chloe Zhao helms this ambitious film that provides a rich lineup of characters to invest in. At times, it can feel as though Eternals wants to juggle too much. The narrative utilizes flashbacks to catch viewers up on the reunion of these immortal beings. However, these glimpses of past events seem to take up more time than the current events. The film wants to establish who the Eternals were and who they are today and it doesn’t always work. Since the characters are so likable, it makes up for the uneven narrative of past and present.
Ryan and Kaz Firpo collaborated on penning this latest addition to the MCU. Eternals stars Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, and Don Lee. These immortal beings that were created by the Celestials reunite to protect humanity against the Deviants. The Eternals consist of Sersi (Chan), Ikaris (Madden), Kingo (Nanjiani), Sprite (McHugh), Phastos (Henry), Makkari (Ridloff), Druig (Keoghan), Ajak (Hayek), Thena (Jolie), and Gilgamesh (Lee).
Each character is written in a manner that makes it impossible to not feel invested in their progressions. Sprite, who can project impeccable illusions, desperately wants to be a human. Her entire arc emphasizes the themes of humanity and the importance of cherishing every minute of life. Trapped in the appearance of a child, she struggles to live forever due to her mentality maturing but not her appearance. Sprite was my favorite member because of the inner turmoil that is brought to life through McHugh’s amazing performance.
There are some bits of dialogue from Sprite that lack subtlety, so perhaps Eternals not centering on her was for the best. Sersi (Chan), who has the power to manipulate through physical contact, is portrayed as the film’s focus. While I didn’t find it difficult to relate to her, the other Eternals getting more attention would have been nice to witness. All of the performances are incredible, some more emotionally draining than others. Jolie impresses as Thena, the Eternal with the power to craft weapons out of cosmic energy. Jolie captures Thena’s confidence and inner struggles tremendously.
Eternals does suffer from its pacing towards the middle, the film lasts for over two hours and it will be felt. These characters help keep you engaged, and the breathtaking action sequences assist in that too. The downtime from its blockbuster-worthy fighting is only at its best when exploring the life of Kingo, who is another standout thanks to Nanjiani’s performance. Kingo has made it as a hit actor for many centuries, and his charisma makes him someone you want to see more of. In between though, Eternals does encourage detachment from its narrative with the humor that doesn’t always stick.
Ramin Djawadi’s score adds weight to the high stakes found in the film’s central conflict. Particularly during Eternals’ final battle to save humanity, which includes some of the film’s most impressive visuals. Marvel has a formula that audiences are used to and I’d say this was a solid change of scenery while still including aspects of previous Marvel films. Eternals was an effective film overall and only lost its footing with narrative and pacing issues.