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  Eternals Immortality Is Boring
Year: 2021
Director: Chloe Zhao
Stars: Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kit Harrington, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, Harish Patel, Bill Skarsgård, Haaz Sleiman, Esai Daniel Cross, Harry Styles, Alan Scott
Genre: Action, Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Many centuries ago, the Eternals were a band of superpowered immortals created by the Godlike Celestials to stop the enormously destructive enemies the Deviants, and they settled on Planet Earth to guide humanity and help them make leaps and bounds in their abilities and technologies. Now, in the present thousands of years after they began smashing Deviants in the head, it appears the danger is long past, and the band has broken up to pursue their separate paths, such as Sersi (Gemma Chan), who has become a schoolteacher in London. However, earth tremors in many major capital cities indicate trouble is afoot...

Eternals - get this! - was predicted to be the beginning of the end for Marvel's dominance as although it did fine at the box office considering there was a pandemic on, it nevertheless was met with a largely lukewarm response from moviegoers, and a positively chilly one from critics. Anyone could have told you why, and their release at the end of 2021 illustrated the reason, Spider-Man was a worldwide popular brand, instantly recognisable and one of the strongest suits in Marvel's arsenal, so of course audiences would want to see it, even without all the casting gimmicks they threw in. But these guys? Basically, who?

They were a super-origin story created back in the nineteen-seventies when legendary artist Jack Kirby was having something of a crisis in confidence. He was aiming higher and higher and neglected why his greatest characters had the appeal they did; after crafting icons in the medium, he was troubled by where to go next, and the failure of the Eternals showed that this was as much a misstep as trying to turn Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey into a comic book series, as Kirby did. More drawn to the cosmic than grounded in reality that made his classics so appealing, he failed to keep his feet on the ground and would soon find himself respected, but yesterday's man.

Why the MCU thought it was a good idea to revive this dud for a movie is a mystery, as a lot of their internal workings were, but supremo Kevin Feige decreed it so and therefore we were gifted with a dud of a superhero flick to endure two and a half hours of. Sure, it made profits, but with the best will in the world this atmosphere-free, snail's paced tedium could only have been worse if they had opted to be patronising with it. Oh, wait, patronising was precisely what they were, overinflating their own importance with a plot that took Kirby's ill-advised flirting with Erich Von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods, ancient aliens bullshit and used it to explain why we humans are all a bit rubbish, especially the non-white ones, unless we have amazing space aliens to boost our cultures with stuff our supposedly idiot brains could never work out for ourselves.

Von Daniken's cheapjack theories had been called out as racist for some time before this movie, so they attempted to defuse that kind of controversy by giving the Eternals a diverse makeup, but if anything this rendered it even more patronising, and landing the villainous role for the white guy was not going to endear it to those who complained about these matters either. Aside from the concept American Sign Language was invented by Godlike space beings, this might have got away with its sky high concept had it been the slightest bit amusing, but it wasn't, it plodded along pompously amid monotonously pretty locations chosen by director Chloe Zhao, one of those indie helmers recruited to add artistic kudos and be easy to be pushed around by the corporate machine. She added nothing but a fatally dull tone to what was desperately difficult to care about: when the fate of the world is in the balance every other movie, where do you go from there? The answer appeared to be to repeat the same CGI battle formula and hope your fans were content with more of the same, only suffocatingly pretentious. At best, a very weird misstep. Music by Ramin Djawadi.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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