Review: Eternals

Michelle Jin, Graphics Editor

3.5/5

Marvel’s newest film, Eternals, directed by Chloé Zhao, was released in theaters Nov. 5. The film follows the return of half of the population in Avengers: Endgame, the Eternals—a group of immortals created by the Celestials who had secretly lived on Earth for more than 7,000 years—must reunite to protect humanity from their evil counterpart, the Deviants. The Deviants are basically colorful CGI monsters that have powers like shapeshifting, immortality, matter transmutation, superhuman strength and speed. Initially I was quite skeptical going in to see this movie for the first time, because of the low critic scores.

There is a clear focus at the start of the movie. The characters and their powers were introduced and the audience seems to get a sense of what the plot is. But towards the middle and the end, the plot gets messy with all the different stories happening with all the characters. Eternals is mostly filled with action and fighting scenes, which are very intense and kept me on the edge of my seat. The CGI was surprisingly done very well and realistic, with both weapons and monsters bringing the fight scenes to life. It felt like I was transformed into a different world with how real everything felt in the movie.

The film switches from present to past at least five times, which makes the plot hard to follow. Multiple times during the movie, I was confused as to whether scenes were taking place in the past or the present. There were also plot holes that could be found such as the Eternals being imperfect although they were supposed to be perfect creatures created to stop Deviants. Something else I found confusing was the Eternals speaking English when the language hadn’t been invented yet back then. 

Despite the pacing, the plot holes, and the character inconsistency, Eternals is a very cinematic film. Because of Zhao’s shooting style, real-world locations are used more often than green screens. The dusty desert and lush rainforest settings feel real in a way that CGI doesn’t, giving the film an  immersive quality. 

I was actually very impressed by how Zhao introduced so many characters at the beginning of the film. Even if the audience consisted of people who are not familiar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this movie would still be watchable on its own. 

Eternals also has an incredibly diverse cast, featuring characters from a wide range of ethnic groups. From the start of the film we get a sense of each character’s powers, and how they are used in the present and the past. This also allows the audience to get familiar with the cast. The representation was refreshing to see, and is much needed in the film industry. But there wasn’t enough time to give every character a fulfilling arc. It felt as if the romantic relationships shown between characters are merely there to move the plot forward instead of having an actual meaning behind them. 

This movie is different from all the other Marvel movies, not just with the diversity of characters, but also in terms of  the tone of the film. In Eternals, the atmosphere is darker and definitely more mature, but there are still humorous moments. I could tell that this film wasn’t just another superhero movie, but rather an ode to humanity. The characters are faced with the complexity of the human experience, and we get to see the beauty of life unfold through the interactions of higher power living in the human world. Although the Eternals were told not to interfere with human life from their creator Arishem, characters like Druig couldn’t help but try to stop wars from happening. 

This movie opens a future of possibilities for Marvel that hints at the start of a very big series of movies. I appreciate the Eternals took a creative risk with its time jumping events, but its convoluted plot is an ultimate let down.