‘Eternals’ Review: Chloé Zhao’s Marvel Studios Debut Is A Snoozefest

Watching Eternals will probably put you to sleep.

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Marvel Studios had hit nothing but home runs over the past few years with countless successes at the box office and even on Disney Plus. Sure, Marvel Studios has had few poorly received films like Thor: The Dark World or even Iron Man 2, but it’s been years since their release and I believe they have been doing an amazing job lately. So, when it was announced that Marvel was launching a film surrounding a group of characters that we have never seen before in live-action, I was excited. When Eternals was announced there were rumors refuting that the film was in development before they were ultimately debunked by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige.

Eternals would go on to be helmed by Academy Award-winning director Chloe Zhao and feature a star-studded cast that includes the likes of Angelina Jolie, Selma Hayek, Richard Madden, Gemma Chan, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, Barry Keoghan, Lauren Ridloff, Lia McHugh, Don Lee and Kit Harington. The film was shot at Pinewood Studios in the United Kingdom and on location in London under the watchful eye of cinematographer Ben Davis. When our first look at the film was released online it seemed very distinct and different from previous Marvel Studios releases. For the first time, it looked like the studio was heading into an evolved level of filmmaking. But, as we all know, looks can be deceiving, and I was definitely deceived by the marketing for Eternals. I got to see Eternals at an early screening and it was arguably the most boring Marvel Studios film to date.

Chloe Zhao’s Eternals is masterfully made. It’s beautifully shot and directed, the CGI isn’t all that distracting and we get a look at a very different side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But, that doesn’t stop it from being dull, lackluster and filled with disappointment. The pacing of the film is slow enough for you to doze off and not miss a thing. Eternals feels like a Marvel movie that was directed by Zack Snyder and that’s not a jab at him as I love what he does, but I wouldn’t enjoy it in a Marvel Studios production. The film introduces us to a group of characters that expands over thousands of years throughout Marvel Studios history and you would think that one film is too short of a time to dive into the titular group’s very long past. While Eternals is a work of art, it is hindered by a dull story, poor pacing and very lukewarm performances.

The cast of Eternals is given a lot of material to work with, including the 25 Marvel Studios films that precede it and the eclectic comic book history of the Eternals. There’s also the direction of Chloe Zhao and the screenplay by Patrick Burleigh, Ryan Firpo and Kaz Firpo, but ultimately the performances feel phoned in and lack the heart this film so desperately needed. In Eternals, Angelina Jolie enters the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Thena. Thena is the warrior of the group and you would think that Jolie would own this role, but the actress becomes an afterthought throughout the film.  Selma Hayek plays the leader of the group named Ajak and she works with what little she’s given. Eternals also introduces us to Richard Madden’s Ikaris, who’s stoic and kind of the Superman of the group. He has cool laser beams that shoot out from his eyes and can fly, but these are the only good things I can say about the character.

When Richard Madden’s Ikaris shares the screen with Gemma Chan’s Sersi, his performance somehow gets worse. The two have no chemistry and their romance is pretty unbelievable. However, Chan probably gives the best performance of the movie. She’s definitively the heart of the film and I’m very interested in where they take her and Kit Harington’s Dane Whitman next. In Marvel comics lore, Dane becomes the superhero Black Knight, and while Harington isn’t in much of the film, we get a sneak peak of what’s to come.

Eternals also featured several other okay performances from Kumail Nanjiani, Barry Keoghan, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Don Lee and Lia McHugh, but what is a Marvel Studios film without a good villain? The answer to that is this film. The heroes have to face the mindless Deviants over the course of centuries as one starts to evolve. Its name is Kro, a creature that is probably the worst MCU villain since Malekith from Thor: The Dark World. While I didn’t enjoy Eternals, it is possible that you might, so go check it out when it hits theaters on November 5th.

Overall Thoughts: Eternals is the most boring Marvel Studios film yet. Chloe Zhao masterfully directs the film, but it’s ultimately hindered by its very slow pacing and wooden performances. It is definitely a family film but it does feature the studio’s first sex scene so take that as you may. Eternals also features two-post credit scenes that are sure to make your jaw drop. I’d definitely watch it on the biggest screen possible.

Rating: 5/10

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Nathaniel Brail

Nathaniel Brail

Running things at HH. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @NateBrail