Movie Review: Marvel Studios’ Eternals (2021)

Marvel Studios’ latest entry into the MCU, Eternals is directed by the Oscar winning director Chloe Zhao. This movie is jam packed with a star studded cast, featuring Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek, and Angelina Jolie and so many others. 

The Eternals are an immortal alien race sent to Earth by a celestial to protect humanity from Deviants, who have re-emerged after the events of The Avengers: End Game where half the population was snapped back into existence. The Eternals were sworn to not interfere with human events where Deviants were not involved, thus allowing world wars, famines, and other world threatening events such as Loki’s invasion and Thanos’ snap to occur. The return of new, evolved Deviants and a much larger threat to Earth bring The Eternals out of hiding.

What follows are excerpts from The Final Take podcast, where Nelson and Tim provide their review and final thoughts on the film:

First Impressions and What didn’t work

Nelson: So, initial thoughts/first impressions?

Tim: First impressions, it was very slow, that was my first impression. A lot of back story, as they’re trying to move the film forward they’re really digging deep into a backstory to try to explain themselves.

N: Introducing all these net new characters [we] haven’t seen before, haven’t heard of them in the previous phases. It’s a lot to unpack, right?

T: Well, it’s tough because nobody has heard of Eternals unless you’re a deep dive comic book fan where you’re actually keeping up with these comics or you have read them in the past, it’s hard to do. Like Guardians of the Galaxy, no one knew who or what [they] were and out comes Guardians of the Galaxy with some style, with some pizazz, with a great soundtrack and it was an overall fun film. It worked, they crushed it. I think this was trying to figure out where their place is in the MCU or where they’re going to go and this is the introduction.

N: It’s a lot to unpack. It’s simultaneously for an entire team of superheroes. The stakes are as big as they get: save the Earth. And then it’s also, seemingly, moving phase 4 of the entire MCU forward by introducing these new elements like this entirely new team of very powerful superheroes, bringing celestials back into the MCU, because you thought Ego was the last one […] it had to do a lot in 2.5-hours. For my first impression, I’m probably going to contradict myself, I agree with you there were points where it felt slow. But at the same time with everything they had to accomplish with this it probably would have made more sense as a 6-part TV show […] it needed more time to tell the story.

T: I have to say in the first couple of scenes I was excited that Jon Snow and Robb Stark were in the same scene for the first time since season 1 of Game of Thrones. All I could think about was Marvels’ Game of Thrones.

N: It worked in places, it didn’t work in places. Generally, I liked it but there were things that could have gone better.

T: I have to agree with you, it was a very long movie. For an introductory movie […] it would have been better suited and probably a little bit more exciting, a little bit more tension had they done an episodic release.

What worked

Nelson: So, let’s roll into what worked then. A beautifully shot movie, looked great. The cast, generally, very good. And I will say, Ikaris drew a lot of Superman parallels because of his powers […] Marvel did a better job of presenting a Superman-like character on film.

Tim: You’re just trying to kill me here, aren’t you?

N: Look, Superman is my favorite comic character. I ride all day for Superman. But no offense to anybody else that’s put Superman on film, I kind of think Marvel did it better […] just the way that he moved, the way the character was presented, how they followed his fight scenes that were often in the air and the lasers shooting. I did enjoy Man of Steel but the presentation of that style of character, Marvel did it better […] What else worked for you?

T: I’m gonna say the performances worked. In particular, Gemma Chan and Kumail Nanjiani.

N: Kingo’s powers are finger guns, man, give me more finger guns!

T: I do think that Gemma Chan really carried the movie and just had emotional range to be that person to provide the audience with that emotional interaction […] and I will say this, Kumail Nanjiani [was] spectacular with the comic relief. He did a fantastic job and he worked very hard to get in shape. I watched him back in the Franklin and Bash days [and] Silicon Valley. For him to get in that kind of shape, I don’t blame him for not wearing sleeves in that production […] and said “Hey look guys, a lot of work went into this and you guys paid for it, so we’re gonna give everyone a ticket to the gun show.”

N: I feel like on subsequent viewings, if you do watch it again, its one of those movies that will grow on you. Think about it, Chloe Zhao is not your typical Marvel director. And the look of it and a bit the feel of it wasn’t your typical Marvel formula […] you’re kind of expecting a certain aesthetic, you’re expecting a certain feel. You’re expecting jokes to land a certain way and felt a little off because it was just a different vision, a different voice […] I would say, generally entertaining. Asked to do a lot of heavy lifting: introducing the characters, pushing the MCU forward. Sometimes the jokes hit, sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes the emotional beats hit, sometimes they didn’t. So, you can see how it was a bit of an uneven film in terms of the critic reaction to it. In general, I was entertained.

The Final Take

Nelson: Well, so what say you, Tim Cox? Final take: watch, stream, or skip on the Eternals?

Tim:  I’m gonna say it’s a stream.

N: I think I agree, it’s a stream for me as well, when it becomes available on Disney+ […] for any MCU fans it’s probably going to be a watch. And if you are going to watch it, you should probably see it on IMAX because it’s a comic book film.

The Final Take: Stream for both Nelson and Tim. Unless you’re an MCU fan, then it’s probably a Watch.

Listen to the entire episode below:

Ep 2: Eternals Trying to Find Their Place in the MCU The Final Take

Published by Final Take

The Final Take is a podcast about TV and film hosted by brothers-in-law...brother-in-law's...two guys related by marriage who love to take about TV, film, and pop culture when they get together.

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