Monday, January 30, 2023

Review: “Eternals” has a lot of new products, but too much of everything else

You can say that “The Eternals” will be epic from the very first line: “In the beginning …”. That’s right, the film is actually pulling the tongue out of Genesis. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has become biblical.

In a sense, reach fits: “Eternal” this is not just another story of the origin of a group of new superheroes, but a myth about the creation of the entire Marvel universe. The film covers the period from 5000 BC. to the present day and describes the god-like giant creatures that form galaxies. One can almost yearn for the good old days when the biggest drama in Marvel films hoped Spider-Man could stop Doctor Octopus from destroying New York.

It all starts out simple enough. Oscar-winning director Chloe Zhao The Eternals features 10 members of a race of immortal beings who have spent 7,000 years on Earth defending it against rivals known as the Deviants, who are very similar to the steroid-powered Aliens.

The film shows key moments in human history – Mesopotamia in 5000 BC, Babylon in 575, Tenochtitlan in 1521 and Nagasaki in 1945. The Eternals watch from the sidelines as violence reigns, they are forbidden to interfere, they were helped by a soundtrack of clever songs, including “Time” by Pink Floyd and “Feels Like the First Time” by Foreigner’s.

Marvel has delved deeply into its archives for this film – the 26th film in the universe, after all – but its inclusion deserves a round of applause. Four Eternals are white, three are Asian, one is the first Asian American, the main character, two are black and one is Hispanic. One is gay and the other is deaf.

And one more thing: The Eternals contains the first gay kiss in the Marvel Universe, a kiss between superheroes and, surprisingly quickly thereafter, the first superhero sex. It’s a shame that all of these first ones took so long and are now squeezed into a group of characters, possibly level 3.

These are: Sersi (Gemma Chan), which can transform matter; Ikaris (Richard Madden) with the gift of flying and laser eyes; Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani), shooting energy charges from his hands; and a Sprite (Leah McHugh) who can create illusions but is trapped in a teenager’s body.

There is also Fastos (Brian Tyree Henry), a superhuman inventor; Makkari (Lauren Ridloff), with super speed; Druig (Barry Keoghan) with mind control abilities; Gilgamesh (Don Lee) with super punch power and Tena (Angelina Jolie) who can summon weapons from the air. The head of the group is Ajak (Salma Hayek), a kind of Mother’s Lair for others, with healing powers.

Their names – especially Gilgamesh, Tena, and Ikaris – are reminiscent of names from ancient myths, and the film is grippingly hinting that they may be the real figures behind our ancient legends.

After all, each eternal goes its own way. One goes to an abandoned farmhouse in South Dakota, a couple finds themselves in a dusty place in Australia, the other teaches history in London. Kingo Nanjiani becomes a vainglorious Bollywood star who attributes her lack of aging to being lurking in the actors’ false pedigree.

A new wave of Deviant attacks pushes the group back together and reveals some love triangles and unresolved issues. (Even the eternal aliens have to speak out.) Every time the Eternal reunites with another, they explain them to the people in their lives as “college friends.”

The final third of the film – and with its 157-minute runtime, Eternals sometimes seems eternal – lifts all earthly things into another dimension with the reintroduction of the Celestials that first appeared in Guardians of the World. Galaxy “. They are huge space creatures, similar to giant toy robots, who consider humans and Eternals to be just toys and have hidden goals.

Zhao, whose film Nomad Land was everything he is not – stingy, naturalistic, sullen – is struggling with so much going on. Combat scenes are repeated, and dialogue often looks unnatural (“When you love something, you have to protect it,” says one of the Eternals). The use of tendrils of light connecting superheroes is impressive, and the special effects at the end are really amazing, but the film is largely saved by Nanjiani, whose humor and manner of performance makes it seem like he’s from another movie. Without him, there are many superheroes around in cool costumes and squinting a lot.

The movie never really ends, just setting up the next installment like Marvel fans are already used to. Eternals are like vegetables that we need to eat before we move on to dessert. And if you linger during the credits, you’ll find him: Harry Styles. Expect.

The Eternals, a Walt Disney Co. release that hits theaters on Friday, is rated PG-13 for “fantastic violence and action, little expression and brief sexuality.” The duration of the performance is 157 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.


MPAA Definition PG-13: Strongly Advised Parents. Some content may not be suitable for children under the age of 13.




Mark Kennedy is in

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