Film review by Jason Day of Eternals (2021), the Marvels comics-based movie about Gods who protect humans from monsters. Starring Gemma Chan and Richard Madden and directed by Chloé Zhao.
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A race of humanoid Gods are sent to Earth and are sworn to protect humanity from a nightmarish creatures called Deviants who feed on humans.
Review, by @Reelreviewer
***Rant and spoiler alert!***
So, something I love to do every now and then – starting a review with a rant!
Why the fuck can’t movies just end when the closing credits roll?!
Why do scriptwriters and film directors feel the need to continue with tidbits of extra detail that could easily have been summarised within the preceding production?
Although his narrative gimmick is hardly new and is something I have encountered before, it’s something I haven’t really paid much attention to.
But over recent years, the use of these teaser moments has becoming almost standardised and something of a bugbear for this grumpy old man, especially a grumpy old man who has hitherto avoided a strain of movies that makes much use of the cinematic epilogue.
Marvel films – where these extra sequences abound – seem not to know when it’s time to call a close on the action. They have to feature extra snippets of detail to explain aspects of what has already transpired in the movie and/or to trail what will come in the next ‘eagerly awaited’ blockbuster.
Arguably, these things could have been shown/explained/resolved before the closing credits roll without whacking on even more length to films that already tip heavily over the standard two-hours running time.
In the case of Eternals – which comes in at a whopping and wholly unnecessary two hours and 36 minutes of footage – these postscripts really take the biscuit.
One detail – Kit Harington’s character’s backstory – we could excuse, if only because it lets us see the lovely Mr. Harington again.
The other bit – an unwanted cameo from former signer-turned-punk-actor Harry Styles and a CGI leprechaun – should have been left on the cutting room floor.
Fine if you are Marvels movie nut (perhaps) but my point is that, for the rest of us who have already sat through half an hour of adverts for high-end cars, and trailers for other movies already, we might are impatient for the main event to start. We’ve already finished most of our popcorn and slurped most of our drinks and have at least another two hours of the actual film to sit through. In my case, we’re already looking forward to the whole shebang being over so we can get home.
In my opinion, it is self-indulgent if not vainglorious.
OK, my rant is over so now on with a few of the good things about Eternals.
The movie features the first openly gay character (played by Brian Tyree Henry) in a movie that is based on a Marvels comic, which means a lot in a ‘superhero world’ where the majority of characters are heterosexual. There is even a (chaste) kiss between Henry and his on-screen partner. Given that homosexuality was decriminilaised (in the UK) nearly 60 years ago. There’s a lot more work to do in terms of LGBTQ+ representation in cinema, but at least Marvel movies have finally caught up.
I loved the hardworking and fun cast who, when the script allows, are up for a good sarcastic laugh. Gemma Chan and Richard Madden make a fair fist of it as a stunningly attractive couple, Chan as the keeper of the Eternals’ morals and mission and Madden as the villain of the piece.
Better still are the fabulously amusing Kumail Nanjiani as Bollywood legend Kingo, Harish Patel as his forever-videoing assistant and Lia McHugh as Sprite, the Pinocchio figure of the team who longs to be human.
The design of the movie – as you’d expect with one that has an estimated $200m budget – is fabulous, particularly the costuming. As superhero apparel goes, the Eternals look sartorially superb whether battling monsters or each other.
Cast & credits
Director: Chloe Zhao. 2hr 36 min/156 min. Marvel Studios/TSG Entertainment. (12a).
Producers: Kevin Feige, Nate Moore.
Writers: Chloé Zhao, Patrick Burleigh, Ryan Firpo, Kaz Firpo.
Camera: Ben Davis.
Music: Ramin Djawadi.
Sets: Eve Stewart, Clint Wallace.
Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kit Harington, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree-Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Ma Dong-seok, Harish Patel, Bill Skarsgård.