Movie Review: Eternals

ETERNALS is the story of an immortal alien race on the Earth for a purpose. 7000 years ago, the Celestial Arishem created the Eternals, the immortal human beings like creatures, and sent them to Earth. These Eternals include Sersi (Gemma Chan), Ikaris (Richard Madden), Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani), Sprite (Lia McHugh), Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), Makkari (Lauren Ridloff), Druig (Barry Keoghan), Gilgamesh (Don Lee), Ajak (Salma Hayek) and Thena (Angelina Jolie). Their purpose is to save the planet from monstrous creatures called the Deviants. The Eternals arrive on the Earth in the year 5000 BC in Mesopotamia and manage to defeat the Deviants. They then live through the progress of human civilization and even give a push to mankind in various ways using their superpowers. Among the Eternals, only Ajak is the one who has the ability to establish contact with Arishem. In the present-day (post the Blip episode caused by Thanos), Sersi is in London and is a professor. She is romantically involved with Dane Whitman (Kit Harington) after Ikaris left her. Sprite is also residing with Sersi. One day, while returning from a party, Sersi and Sprite are attacked by a Deviant. They fight it out and are about to get defeated when Ikaris comes to rescue them. The trio realizes that the Deviants have become much more powerful than before. They decide to contact Ajak in South Dakota, USA hoping that she’d have an idea. Shockingly, when they reach her place, they find her dead. Sersi also realizes that she’s now got the ability to communicate with Arishem. Arishem tells her that ‘it’s almost time’. Realizing that the Eternals are in danger, the trio set to reunite all their rest of their colleagues, who are scattered around the world and try to find out why the Deviants are out to kill them.

Ryan Firpo and Kaz Firpo's story is interesting and is in the zone as the AVENGERS series, at least on paper. Chloé Zhao, Patrick Burleigh, Ryan Firpo and Kaz Firpo's screenplay is captivating and effective. The writers have tried their best to ensure that it seems like a Marvel film and yet doesn’t give a déjà vu of the previous superhero films of this franchise. The characters of the various Eternal heroes are well fleshed out and the chemistry they share is one of the best parts of the enterprise. On the flipside, the film is a bit confusing and also the pace is slow. At places, the writing also tends to drag. The dialogues are conversational and a bit mysterious at places. The trademark Marvel humour is also present in some one-liners.

Chloé Zhao's direction is impressive and cinematic. She had a huge responsibility on her shoulders as she had to ensure that it should not seem like the poor man’s AVENGERS. After seeing more than 20 Marvel films, it was also crucial for her to ensure that it stands out. In this regard, she comes out with flying colours. The film is shot in several locales around the world and each location is presented beautifully. The bonding between the characters and the challenges they face also add to the fun. She has also managed to incorporate massy and clapworthy elements in action scenes. On the flipside, the narrative at places is too slow and it can test the patience of the viewers. Her treatment is a bit more creative and fit for critical acclaim and hence, those used to watching typical Marvel films might feel shortchanged. In other words, ETERNALS is not as outstanding as the AVENGERS films. The conflict between the Eternals and Deviants becomes complicated to understand towards the end. The same goes for the dilemma of Sprite and also the condition faced by Thena.

ETERNALS starts on a rocking note. The entry scene of each main character is sure to be greeted with whistles and claps. The London episode is entertaining. The death of Ajak comes as a jolt. The scene where Sersi, Ikaris and Sprite reach India to meet Kingo is sure to bring the house down, especially among the audiences in our country. In fact, this <em>desi</em> connection will surely be of help in impressing the Indian audiences. The Australia episode has its share of fun and drama. The Amazon track is nail-biting and from here on, the film gets a bit serious. The twist in the tale in the pre-climax is unpredictable. The final fight has its share of thrill and adrenaline rush but could have been more powerful. The scene after the climax fight also drags the film. The mid-credit scene is interesting while the post-credit scene will leave viewers bewildered.

Speaking of performances, Gemma Chan has the maximum screen time out of all the Eternals and rocks the show. Salma Hayek has limited presence but makes up for it with a strong performance. The same goes for Angelina Jolie but as mentioned above, viewers won’t be able to relate to her condition. Richard Madden is dependable while Kumail Nanjiani gives a funny yet sensitive performance. One wishes he had more to contribute in the last part of the film. Lia McHugh is fine while Brian Tyree Henry puts up a memorable act. Lauren Ridloff is excellent as the mute superhero. Barry Keoghan is passable while Don Lee is very impressive. Kit Harington looks dashing and lends able support. Harish Patel (Karun Patel) is a scene-stealer. The actor of Indian origin has considerable screen time and makes good use of it. Haaz Sleiman (Phastos' husband) is fine. David Kaye’s baritone voice suits that of Arishem. Harry Styles is nice in the cameo.

Ramin Djawadi's music compliments the goings-on very well. The ‘Game Of Thrones’ composer also enhances impact with his score. Ben Davis's cinematography is breathtaking and he does justice to the various exotic locales shown in the film. Eve Stewart and Clint Wallace's production design is rich and suits the theme of the film. Sammy Sheldon's costumes are royal, especially the superhero wear of the Eternals. VFX, as expected, is top-class and looks great on the IMAX screen. The action is spectacular. Dylan Tichenor and Craig Wood's editing could have been tighter.

On the whole, ETERNALS is a well-made superhero saga that gives a nice boost to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It releases on post-Diwali day and is sure to have a huge opening, despite the intense competition from SOORYAVANSHI. The last Marvel release, SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS, managed to score well despite no release in Maharastra and occupancy restrictions. ETERNALS, meanwhile, will have a release across the country,

On the whole, ETERNALS is a well-made superhero saga that gives a nice boost to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It releases post-Diwali day in India and despite the intense competition from SOORYAVANSHI, it has managed to record strong advance sales due to the hype, enviable casting, big screen appeal and Marvel connection. Hence, it’s sure to have a fabulous opening and can put healthy lifetime collections in all languages.

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