Eternals

2021, Action/Adventure, 2h 37m

359 Reviews 5,000+ Verified Ratings

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critics consensus

An ambitious superhero epic that soars as often as it strains, Eternals takes the MCU in intriguing -- and occasionally confounding -- new directions. Read critic reviews

audience says

It's a different kind of Marvel movie, but Eternals still contains all the action, humor, and heart that fans are looking for. Read audience reviews

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Movie Info

Marvel Studios' Eternals features an exciting new team of Super Heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ancient aliens who have been living on Earth in secret for thousands of years. Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, an unexpected tragedy forces them out of the shadows to reunite against mankind's most ancient enemy, the Deviants.

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Critic Reviews for Eternals

Audience Reviews for Eternals

  • Nov 13, 2021
    Chloe Zhao is the biggest name Marvel has gotten yet for its cinematic universe (MCU). Sure, they've had major directing names before like Kenneth Branagh and Ryan Coogler, and successful populist genre filmmakers like Jon Favreau and Joe Johnston and Joss Whedon and Shane Black, and quirky auteurs like James Gunn and Taika Watiti. However, Zhao is the first Academy Award-winning director to jump into the Marvel sandbox. Zhao seems like an odd fit for something as mainstream and successful as the MCU, but she was excited to tell a big story with the biggest studio operating in Hollywood. Eternals (no "The") is just as much about the question over what it means to be human as Zhao's Best Picture-winning Nomadland, and it's a lot easier to watch with one hundred percent less Frances McDormand pooping in a bucket in her van (granted, she did win an Oscar for that performance). Eternals has received the lowest critical rating of any MCU film in its thirteen-year history and I'm trying to figure out why. Thousands of years ago, the Eternals were created by the Celestials, powerful beings that are responsible for birthing new galaxies into the universe. The Eternals were sent to protect the inhabitants of Earth from the Deviants, terrifying tendril-heavy monsters that will consume and overrun a world. The Eternals are instructed by their masters not to intervene in human conflicts; only to intervene to save them from Deviants. Now that the last Deviant has been dead for over 500 years, the Eternals have settled into comfortable lives among present-day humans. Then the Deviants return, evolving with added powers and posing a new threat to humanity and the Eternals, but the real threat might be outside the confines of Earth. Eternals feels like a different kind of Marvel movie in that stretches feel like it's a Stanley Kubrick movie, or a Terrence Malick movie, or a DC movie. The plot structure and tone even reminded me of Watchmen. Don't get me wrong, the standard Marvel elements are recognizable, but this is a much slower, more methodical, more cerebral, and more challenging movie that really feels like a distillation of Zhao's humanist indie naturalism and the crazy cosmos from Jack Kirby's trippy source material. I can understand why some people would find this movie to be boring and poorly paced. There are extensive flashbacks and setup. It definitely doesn't need to be a staggering 157 minutes long, second only to the three-plus hours of Endgame. Granted the movie is introducing a dozen characters, their relationships, their powers, their histories, as well as a new history for the universe that doesn't relate to anything that came before it. There are assorted references to Thanos and the events of Endgame, bringing half the population back, but this is more a standalone movie that can serve as an introduction for those less well-versed in two dozen movies' previously on's. I knew going into Eternals it was going to be slow, and I knew several friends that outright hated it, but I think pacing is more to its benefit and detriment. The scenes feel like Denis Villenueve (Dune) is pacing them, where moments are given more time to breathe and where characters are given space to reflect and absorb. Like a Villenueve film, Zhao wants her audience to take in the grandeur of the moment, but she also wants the characters to be able to take in the drama of their circumstances. Some people will find it all too boring, and while there were points that could be trimmed, I was enjoying myself because of the attention to character perspectives that are given precedence over splashy beat-‘em-ups. I was drawn in by the character reveals, their conflicts, and the time Zhao allows to examine their emotional and philosophical states. Look, it's still a big, action-packed Marvel movie with plenty of monster fights and a word-saving cataclysm climax, and while those are agreeably executed, I was more taken by letting the characters speak their problems. There's Sprite (Lia McHugh), an eternally looking child who can never live an adult life she craves. There's Druid (Barry Keoghan), a man with the power to control the minds of all humans on Earth but is explicitly instructed to remain hands-off with their conflicts. He is severely torn and emotionally wrecked over watching them slaughter one another and knowing he has the power to intervene and resolve genocide, prejudice, and poverty. That's the eternal question over why a loving God seemingly chooses to be hands-off, all rolled into one character. There's Thena (Angelina Jolie), a legendary warrior of physical renown but whose mental state is fracturing and who poses a potential lethal danger to her family. There's her partner, Gilgamesh (Don Lee), who would rather watch over his love as she suffers and potentially declines than have her lose her identity and erase herself. There's Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), a man who only wants to help the humans with his technological skills but regrets his contributions and declares humans as unworthy of their keep after Hiroshima. Then there's a reveal halfway through the Eternals that loads a needs-of-the-many sacrificial debate that positions different characters on different sides of the divide for the final act. I enjoyed that even the villains are presented with their rationale and are tortured over their choices they deem to be necessary for the greater good. I've written a lengthy paragraph all on the meaty character conflicts, and none of them revolve around the goal to gather a magic item or learn a special power. I didn't mind Zhao's movie taking its sweet time to allow these conflicts and struggles to be felt because they were evocative, and Zhao's storytelling shines when she focuses on the noble and often tragic struggles of people being complicated, contradictory, and confusing. Even the big dumb beasts evolve and have a perspective that has an understandable complaint. The final confrontation doesn't come down to a giant sky beam and an endless army of disposable CGI brutes. It rests upon character conflicts and a romance that spans thousands of years where empathy is the secret weapon. Early on, you think it's going to be a love triangle, and the movie just teleports out of that trope. I found myself more invested in the ending, even if I could already predict the ending. I was more interested in what the conflict was doing to the Eternals as a family fracturing under the weight of their destinies and the consequences of defiance. The film ends on a cliffhanger with significant fallout, and I don't know how the rest of the MCU is going to square what we learned and accomplished here. This seems in sharp contrast to everything down the road. Eternals is also an often beautiful-looking movie with Zhao's penchant for natural landscapes and magic hour lighting. The editing and photography feel nicely matched and allow the viewer to really soak up the natural splendor and the impact of the battles. The action is kept at a human level with the camera tethered to the characters even when in flight. There is the occasionally eye-opening shot of a landscape, or Zhao's use of visual framing, or the special effects revelations that reminded me of 2001: A Space Odyssey. It's certainly not the most breezy, action-packed movie in their lengthy canon of blockbusters, but it's not devoid of spectacle. So then why has Eternals scored so low with film critics and a significant portion of general audiences? Some wonder if the level of diversity and inclusivity of the movie is a factor; we have many non-white characters including a deaf character and a gay male character in a committed relationship, with a genuine and loving onscreen kiss no less (your turn, Star Wars franchise), and that seems like a trigger point for fans that grumble about "woke culture." I'm sure for some that's a factor. I think the length will be a factor for many. I think the elevated emphasis on emotional states and philosophical conflicts might be another factor. I might argue people are turning off the Marvel formula but I think that may be the biggest reason. This doesn't feel like any Marvel movie that has come before. It's much more comfortable with silences, with patience, and with cerebral matters (again, not to say the dozens of other MCU entries were absent these). This one is just different, encompassing the directing style and humanist attentions of Zhao and looking at a far larger scope of drama than toppling one super-powered being. I saw this in theaters with my girlfriend's ten-year-old daughter and her friend and both of them said they enjoyed it, so I won't say it's too mature or impenetrable for younger viewers. Eternals might be too boring for some, too long, and too different, but I was happy to endure it all. Nate's Grade: B
    Nate Z Super Reviewer
  • Nov 09, 2021
    For better or worse Eternals is an ambitious project that tried to move away from the Marvel standard of fast paced storytelling and characters making non-stop quips. The premise is an intense high-fantasy with a main cast of immortals acting like a dysfunctional family, with their issues and the way they cope with them scaled up as much as their godhood in often Shakespearean fashion. First, Eternals tries to do a lot. It attempts to fit 10 compelling characters many with their own stories, intelligent relationships and personal dramas into a hyper grand premise, a multilayered mystery plot riddled with provoking moral dilemmas, convince us of a world where the natural order is mass genocide from sentient cosmic forces, hell even the throwaway antagonist has meaningful motive; all into a film with a very reasonable runtime. It quickly became apparent how easy it was to nitpick at flaws in this massive project so I'll address the most notable ones. It fails to reinforce its most consistent and encompassing theme, what it means to be human. How the film wrapped up certain character narratives unsatisfyingly (Sprite & Kingo), characters making choices that may alienate viewers (Like every Eternal at some point) and the Deviant subplot feeling too separate from the main story by the final act. However, a lot worked for me too. Starting with the cinematography, the movie was very beautifully shot. Unlike most Marvel productions that are all ADHD & go-go-go scenes actually take their time to bask and settle. Also the film has the viewers often feel the moral struggles of its characters and I love that. I find personal stories from the existential perspective of immortals very compelling and there's a lot of material there in that regard. (I mean, there's 10 of them!) Finally this should go without saying but the action choreography is top notch as always. Eternals is a success, it may have chewed off more than it can handle but it's one of Marvel's most provoking and complex projects in every sense. It's bloated and borderline convoluted but it was still enjoyable and is exactly the type of ambitious thing I want to see from them instead of churning out the same brainless style/tone over and over.
    Drake T Super Reviewer
  • Nov 05, 2021
    After over a decade of movies and the beginning of television wiggling its way into this universe as well, The Marvel Cinematic Universe is simply one of the most impressive franchises of all time. That's not to say it's the best franchise of all time, just incredibly ambitious without stumbling very often. Eternals is the first film in a very long time, to be this ambitious in introducing this many characters at once. Yes, this is a downside to the film overall, but I really enjoyed watching it. From the terrific direction to the beautiful look and feel, here's why I think Eternals is worth your time, even if you might be someone who won't like it as much as I did. To put it as simply as possible, there are beings known as Celestials. The Celestials are responsible for the creation of all living things in the Universe. Using these powers thousands of years ago, they created a small race known as Eternals. They were placed in our Universe to oversee human existence and only interfere with any conflicts if creatures known as Deviants ever were to arise. Thousands of years later, in the present day, something has awoken them. Needing to get the band back together, this film is purely about the reassemblance of the Eternals in order to stop this looming threat.  That description may seem like it makes for a super exciting time at the movies, but please don't go into the film expecting non-stop action like Avengers: Infinity War. This is a film that takes its time, flashing back and forth, teaching you the backstory of these characters so that you care about the consequences moving forward. Chloe Zhao's direction here is very much her style and it's very apparent that she was given the freedom of bringing her tone to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The strongest point of this film is the fact that everyone is likeable. Everyone is given just enough time to make an impact, even though I think more time with each of these characters would've helped it a lot more.  Leading up to The Avengers back in 2012, we had films that developed each of the core characters first. This is a film that was trying to bring a team together with far less time and far more characters to boot. It's nearly three hours long, but there are times when it honestly feels like a couple more hours could've helped it. I'm starting to think this story would've worked much better as a Disney+ series that's still connected to this world, but I understand that the ideas presented here were necessary to be seen by a larger audience. This was a huge problem I had with the film, but that aside, I still really liked it.  My issue with the characters would've been a lot greater, however, if it wasn't for all of the performers making me care about them. Kumail Nanjiani, Gemma Chan, and Barry Keoghan were probably the biggest standouts to me, all providing a bit more depth than the rest of the cast, but everyone brought their A-Game here and it showed on-screen. On top of the great cast, there are spectacular visuals that are unlike those from other Marvel films. Yes, the CGI creatures and things of that nature are all still present here, but the CGI backgrounds and landscapes all felt very real this time. I really enjoyed the attention to detail when it came to that.  In the end, Eternals both feels like a traditional Marvel Cinematic Universe film while also doing things that this franchise hasn't done before. The drab tone, slow pacing, and overall "Epic" feel (especially with its runtime) all worked incredibly well for me. I just wish this story had more time to breathe, even with being nearly three hours. If you're a fan of this franchise, this one is a necessary watch, given the ramifications, this will likely have on the franchise as a whole. As big as this movie feels, I think it only scratched the surface. It's far from perfect, but even with its flaws, this movie really worked for me. Eternals is now playing in theatres and I think it's worth seeing.
    KJ P Super Reviewer

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