Eternals Review: Long-Lasting Characters; Truncated Plot

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Eternals is the story of Earth’s secret guardians. Tasked by the mysterious Celestials, a group of superpowered beings defend humans from Deviants—vicious creatures intent on ravaging the planet. With the Deviants thought to be eradicated, the Eternals have spread across the globe to lead peaceful lives. When a new threat emerges, the team reunites to stop it and fulfill their mission.

What works in Eternals is the diverse cast of characters and familial elements. Eternals shines when it explores the notion of immortality and purpose. Each member of the Eternals has a distinct gift which fuels their worldview and as the narrative progresses, writer/director Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) excels at developing their personalities and perspectives. Standouts include Ikaris (Richard Madden), an overpowered being driven by duty; Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) an engineer racked with guilt; and Gilgamesh (Don Lee), a brutal warrior who manifests strength in a variety of ways.

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It would be remiss to not mention the visualization. Zhao’s cinematic portfolio includes notable entries that accentuate an incredible eye for framing, and Eternals is no exception to this trend. Her saga traverses many exotic locals, and she leverages natural beauty in nearly every shot. Where Zhao expands is her choreography. The Eternals have individuals with very specific powers: super speed, flight, technical aptitude, weapon mastery, etc. Zhao uses these abilities in combination to craft truly thrilling sequences that will undoubtedly impress.

People who crave consistency in narrative arcs, or conclusive endings, may not enjoy Eternals as much as others. Taking a step back, the majority of Marvel movies have a familiar structure across its acts: heroes rise, fall, then overcome. There’s much to applaud in Eternals for breaking that mold in ways that won’t be spoiled here. However, for some the final act may feel sudden and abrupt both in terms of plot resolution and characters’ decisions. For as long as Eternals’ runtime is, it leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

Eternals will likely divide fans: both casual and the more entrenched comic-book loving individuals. There’s certainly a lot to appreciate in this grand epic, particularly the characters and the action. Unfortunately, several people are likely going to debate whether it sticks the landing.

Recommended if you Enjoyed: Thor: The Dark World, The Incredibles 2, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Final Grade: B

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Fox Troilo

Fox serves as an entertainment journalist in the Washington, D.C. When not covering cinematic news for LRM, he critiques films as a member of the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association. Fox also has a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Strategy from Indiana University Bloomington.

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