These days, streaming services like Disney+ make it more convenient to enjoy films from the comfort of your own home. Sure, you know what that is all about but do you ever regret seeing something at home that you skipped the theater for? This happened with me and Encanto which was a delight. This didn’t happen with Eternals, which was an incredible disappointment.
As the reviews came pouring in before the widespread theatrical release, I had some major concerns and reservations about the film’s pacing, writing, and directing. So much so that I opted not to see this film in theaters and wait for the home release. This is the first time I have ever done this for an MCU film, which really frustrated me because I love the cast. But all the criticisms of the film really forced my hand and even though I could have gone to the theaters, I could not bring myself to do so. As it turns out, it was the right choice.
Now here is the thing- I am not a filmmaker. However, from start to finish, all I could think about while watching Eternals (directed by Chloé Zhao from a screenplay also by Chloé Zhao and three other people) on my couch was how odd and forced the pacing and plot progression felt. The introduction of the characters felt off, and rushed, along with a weak build-up that didn’t invoke any intrigue or curiosity from the audience resulting in truly not caring about the Eternals as a whole or individually. And this kept up for the entire movie.
I am not sure what went wrong along the way to creating Eternals but nothing feels right. Never at any point did I care about the Eternals and their relationships with each other or the Celestials, never were their performances above mediocre (most felt like cardboard), and not once did I feel the world was under a major threat due to the Deviants. If anything, I sort of got a lot of Inhumans vibes from this movie but with a big-screen polish. In fact, Eternals would have been better served as a big-budget Disney+ series rather than a movie. Sure, a better group could make the story flow more smoothly in the 156 minutes run time like maybe having the beginning show a montage of history and the influence the Eternals had on mankind rather than throwing those around at random every half hour. It just really broke the fluidity of the story by jumping around so much.
Perhaps the only thing I enjoyed about the movie was the plot involving the Celestials and how they relate to earth. Without spoilers, I found that to be a very intriguing and interesting connection. But even then, the reveal of this doesn’t happen until so late in the movie that I was bored by everything else up until that point.
The cast was excellent and I was pleased with the roles they were given. However, each one is a complete waste as not a single one was given enough of a platform to showcase their range, save for Kumail Nanjiani’s Kingo, but even then, just as the character became interesting, he had to take a backseat to the romance between Richard Madden’s boring emotionless Ikaris and Gemma Chan’s uninteresting Sersi. And don’t even get me started on Angelina Jolie. A huge name like that is brought into the MCU and you waste her completely. To be fair, every once in a while someone from the cast begins to demonstrate something that could start to intrigue the audience but then they immediately fizzle out like one of the dud Christmas lights hanging outside your house. Only by this comparison, all the lights are duds and you wonder why they were even hung up in the first place.
Chloé Zhao may have won herself the Academy Award for Best Director and Best Picture for her work on Nomadland but unfortunately, none of that talent was brought to Eternals. Perhaps the genre is something she doesn’t understand or maybe she just doesn’t have what it takes to make a big blockbuster superhero flick or it’s both. In either case, the poor performances of the all-star cast, the sloppy pacing of the plot and character development, and the snoozefest that overall is the Eternals can all be attributed to bad writing and a fundamental misunderstanding and mismanagement on Zhao’s part at every turn. Thankfully Marvel Studios has a large talent pool to pull from for future installments of the Eternals but just know that if there is no Eternals 2, only Chloe Zhao is to blame. And if there is a sequel, we hope that she isn’t a part of it.