MOVIE REVIEW – Seriously, I haven’t been this bored of a movie in a long time as I am of Marvel’s latest superhero creation. And Chloé Zhao recently won the Best Director Oscar for Land of the Nomads, but now she’s directed one of the worst films in the MCU, for which I’d give the director a Golden Raspberry Award.
I’ve been having an actual Marvel marathon on Netflix lately, and series like Daredevil and The Punisher – even as a DC fan – has convinced me of the potential of this universe. These two series alone have dazzled me with their believable, great performances, engaging, twisty, often thought-provoking and above all: exceptionally high-quality stories and incredibly exciting – often brutal – action sequences. Then, it was deplorable that The Everlasting was such a clichéd bore, almost every scene of which felt like watching a story of peace fighters marching under the banner of political correctness.
I don’t understand why, if we already have the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, we need a superhero team with such strikingly similar abilities, blessed with a vague, grandiose mission, again, of course, to save humanity. (What else?)
The Eternals are powerful god-like beings who have spent 7,000 years on Earth to protect the masses from the Deviants, giant, bloodthirsty alien beings cobbled together with lousy CGI. However, as is the prime directive of “Star Trek”, they refuse to influence the course of history.
However, the key difference between The Eternals and X-Men is that Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine and Halle Berry’s Storm are thoroughly developed, multi-layered, believable character studies. In contrast, the otherwise still highly decorative Angelina Jolie’s character Thena, for example, is as exciting and multi-layered as a bar of soap.
Poor Man’s Superman
All the other characters are equally dull. Richard Madden’s Ikaris is about the same as a poor man’s Superman: he can fly here and there and shoot lasers. The “thousand-faced” Gemma Chan’s Sersi can turn inanimate objects into other inanimate objects, but God forbid he changes his facial expression in at least one scene.
Then there’s Druig (Barry Keoghan), who can control people’s minds, Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) is in Bollywood movies and has a fiery hand, Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) can run super-fast, Gilgamesh (Ma Dong-Seok) is mighty, and Sprite (Lia McHugh) can trick people with optical illusions. There’s also Phastos, the magical inventor of new technologies, played by Brian Tyree Henry, and the leader of the group, Ajak, in whom I barely recognised the otherwise still attractive and spirited Salma Hayek, Desperados, or the once sexpot of Twilight to Dawn, so dull and lifeless was her own character.
“Deviant CGI sucks.”
The film’s conflict is that the Deviants, already thought destroyed, are back again, and our heroes must stop the horrifyingly animated monsters. Speaking of which: Denis Villeneuve’s recently released Dune showed moviegoers the wonders of well-done CGI and how Marvel is now starting to fall short in this area.
As for the story, it’s full of clichés, poorly or barely explained conflicts, uninteresting character development and ‘unexpected betrayals’ that were foreshadowed from about the beginning of the film. We go to places like Iraq, South Dakota, Mexico, or Mesopotamia and Babylon in The Eternals, but they all look the same and are just as drab and boring.
Perhaps the five tons of anointed “epic” (or intended to be) pathos should now be scraped from the mainstream Marvel movies because they look ridiculous next to the Netflix series. We want believable, likeable (or despicable) characters, real-life stories with a heroic thread, actual character development, or at least real humour instead of Venom 2 kind of monkeying around. Of course, there are still plenty of hopeful films (we’ll have to wait for them) with the new Spider-Man movie coming soon, and next year Morbius and Guardians of the Galaxy 3, which I’m hoping for a lot.
But as for this film: the dramatic open ending hints at a sequel. But the giggles and snores in the auditorium all the time suggest a reboot.