Based on the works of Jack Kirby, Eternals is the latest entry in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe and tells the story of the titular Eternals, immortal superhumans tasked with fighting the monstrous Deviants and helping to guide human evolution. When their mission is complete, the Eternals are allowed to roam free on the planet they helped protect, forging lives and identities of their own, but the reappearance of the Deviants in the modern day changes everything.
This is a premise with a lot of potential, but unfortunately Eternals does everything in its considerable Disney-funded power to tell the tale in the least interesting way possible. The script is dull and exposition-heavy; for most of the film’s 157-minute runtime, it feels as if the characters are just talking about the story they are in, rather than reacting to and engaging with it.
As a result, the ensemble cast this movie is trying to introduce to the wider MCU never really get the chance to develop in any meaningful or compelling ways- the audience is told through exposition the ways the characters feel about the plot and each other, but these apparent character traits are never expressed in the narrative itself. This makes it very difficult to form any emotional attachment to any story or character beats in the piece, despite the best efforts of its talented cast.
Jack Kirby’s original work on 1976’s The Eternals comic was vibrant and beautiful, and this cinematic adaptation provides a real chance to inject some of that energy into the often dreary visuals of the MCU. Tragically, the movie does not cash in that particular cheque, and the majority of the flick’s action is boringly choreographed green-screen fights against CG monsters, with little to none of the visual flair that defined the characters on the comic pages.
Eternals was a film with a lot of promise, but it unfortunately represents the worst of the MCU’s cinematic indulgences: overly long and dull, with flat characters and a story that feels more like an advert for the next movies in the unstoppable cinematic juggernaut than a truly engaging narrative in its own right. Appropriately, for a film about immortality, the experience of watching Eternals feels like it lasts an eternity, and, after nearly three hours, it makes its audience acutely aware of their own mortality.
Eternals is released nationwide on 5th November 2021.
Watch the trailer for Eternals here: