two stars. 2 hours 37 minutes. PG-13
Gorgeous and empty, “The Eternal” is Marvel’s most numbing entry in the 13-year-old MCU franchise—even though it struggles to be at its strangest and most philosophical.
The Oscar-winning director (Chloe Zhao of 2020’s “Nomadland”) and thrilling ensemble cast are no match for the corporate demands in the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is clearly another Infinity Saga-style climax after 25-odd films. building for.
But Disney can’t be held responsible for the film’s Swiss-cheese plot holes, oppressive cinematography, and flat delivery (of everything, including the action sequences). It’s up to the filmmakers.
Set throughout modern human history, “The Eternal”, opening November 5, features a diverse ensemble of titular-creatures, with most of the focus being the modest, immobile Cersei (Gemma Chan) and the similarly fleeting, expressionless Icaris (Gemma Chan). Richard) is on. Madden). His fellow Eternals – aka the super-powerful buildings that have been secretly inhabiting Earth for the past 7,000 years – are led by Ajak (Salma Hayek) in their shiny, form-fitting suit, who is the main character of Thea (Angelina). Jolie), also dominates Fastos (Brian Tyree). Henry), Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani), Sprite (Lia McHugh), McCurry (Lauren Ridloff), Gilgamesh (Don Lee) and Druig (Barry Keoghan).
She features a hunky love interest (as “Game of Thrones” co-star Kit Harington as Dane Whitman, who would soon become the MCU’s Black Knight), a comic-relieving Harish Patel (as Kingo’s manager, Karun) And add other gods and demons, and you have a mess of script.
And yet Zhao at least gets this part right, giving all the characters their due as they grapple with the orders of their celestial, Marvel-demigod master, Arisham (David Kaye), who has set out to defeat the first gods on Earth. But sent to infinity. The latter is a squishy, skinless bundle of neon muscles that needs to be eradicated to protect the human race.
After being scattered centuries ago, the Eternals must now reunite to face the resurrected, mysterious gods and goddesses. But there is little consensus on how to do this. Thana’s battling the burden of thousands of years of memories; Droog and Fastos are breaking Eternal’s pledge not to interfere in human history; Kingo is making his career as a Bollywood star. Their clashing personalities—some like kids, others like owls—make for agreeable sparks, especially with comic masters like Nanjiani and Henry making solid, influencing performances.
Still, the general sleepiness dulls the otherwise engaging scenes as the film takes too long to say almost nothing. My enduring feeling about it is that Little People is set against vast landscapes dwarfed by nature, history, and incredible, like-minded cinematography. The “Doctor Strange”-style chants and visuals pout to the point.
It’s the inverse of most MCU movies, which may sound inane or arbitrary on paper, but which can translate beautifully to the screen (think “Guardians of the Galaxy” for starters).
In real life, though, it’s a disappointing waste of its $200 million budget. As with its last few stylized MCU widgets (the wuxia-influenced “Shang Chi,” the spy-thriller “Black Widow”), “The Eternal” would have looked better without the Marvel logo, which would notably reduce Zhao’s sluggish pace. and the blurry, beachfront frame of Ben Davis (he also shot “Guardian” and “Captain Marvel”).
In contrast, Denis Villeneuve’s new “Dune” skilfully dispatches with such complex, atmospheric world-building, leaning away from the tentacles of blockbusters. You know them well: crowd-pleasing, toy-friendly designs (“eternal” Happy Meal toys are already out there); a puzzle-piece script; And a vague, CG-driven third-act.
Suspension of disbelief often pancakes in “The Eternal,” in which the gods act like spoiled Gen X’ers and sluggish white-collar workers. But the stunned regularity of the MCU is the real enemy, depicting millions of deaths from environmental and cosmic disasters as a relentlessly weeping wolf over Earth’s destruction—a precipice so high that viewers can finally let their boredom down.
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