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Review: The Eternals

The Marvel MCU has Phase 4 well and truly underway, following hot on the heels of Black Widow and Shang-Chi, we now have the latest new batch of superheroes, The Eternals.

The Eternals are a team of ancient aliens who have been living on Earth in secret for thousands of years. When an unexpected tragedy forces them out of the shadows, they are forced to reunite against mankind’s most ancient enemy, the Deviants.

The Eternals strengths and weaknesses both rise and fall on the same one emotive subject. It’s different to every other MCU entry that has come before. Different in tone, approach and style. But while at times it hampers the film it also, breathes new life into the decades long franchise and with ushers in a possible new era of Superhero film making.

Director Chloe Zhao, who directed 2021’s movie of the year (So far) and Oscar winning Nomadland, brings her wondrous eye to the Marvel Universe. So deep are the landscapes, heavy is the exposition and for once the characters are multi-dimensional and not in a multi-verse sense either. We literally feel the Eternals triumphs and tragedies and their full motivations, whether we agree or not. The Eternals will most likely not be rated as high as some of the other movies, but something different works and over time, audiences will probably come to appreciate it so much more.

The cast led by Gemma Chan as Sersi (And it’s really, really weird to hear Richard Madden and especially Kit Harrington say her name so lovingly all the time. Game of Thrones has a lot to answer for) is eclectic and brilliant. All of their characters get time to breath except maybe Angelina Jolie’s Thena, who seems somewhat disinterested throughout. The aforementioned Richard Madden as Ikaris is probably the most complex of all the characters and great addition to the proceedings. We don’t get too much of Kit Harrington’s Dane Whitman, but what we do will likely set up his introduction as Black Knight somewhere down the line and with +READCTED+ in the second post credits sequence, it could possibly mean that Marvel are looking to add MI13 to the future timelines already.

Of the other Eternals Don Lee, Barry Keoghan, Kumail Nanjiani and Lia McHugh as Gilgamesh, Druig, Kingo and Sprite respectively, while not front and centre, certainly add depth and dimension to the story and with the promise on the end credits that “The Eternals will return” we certainly hope we get a lot more from them.

The Eternals ultimately struggles not because the film is basically the structure of the X-Men which gives it a familiar feel or that it’s basically Marvel’s crack at DCs Justice League, but more so because, when you sum it all up, it’s actually pretty dull. The Eternals will probably be filled under missed opportunity, but the Mystical side of the MCU is always going to be a hard sell. You only have to look at Thor: The Dark World for evidence of that.

The Eternals will find an audience and with Harry Styles popping up to introduce yet another character, but The Eternals will be seen most likely as a jumping off point for Phase 4 and to all that it leads to.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Eternals is on release at cinemas nationwide now

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