REVIEW / FILM REVIEW – The latest Marvel Cinematic Universe film, “The Eternals” introduces a new group of superheroes with an emphasis on emotion.
The Eternals, newcomers to the MCU
For more than ten years Marvel we drink every year of one or more superhero movies. By force, it’s hard not to get bored. Or rather, not to have the impression of constantly discovering the same film, with a few differences. To remedy this, Marvel for a while played the card of the one-upmanship with always more superheroes and titanic battles. The climax having been reached with the indigestible Avengers: Endgame (2019).
Behind, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Black widow and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings were more modest, but also more impersonal and anecdotal. In short, blockbusters that follow the studio’s usual specifications. What is trying to avoid The Eternals, latest addition to the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe).
In it, we discover a whole new team of superheroes. The Eternals are an ancient alien race, sent to Earth by the Celestials to protect humanity from dangerous creatures, the Deviants. On the other hand, it is prohibited to intervene in human conflicts. Thus, for millennia, the Eternals will fight the Deviants while following the evolution of humanity, helping it here and there to develop better. For better, but also for worse, as with the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.
Faced with these catastrophes that they cannot prevent, the Eternals will separate, before meeting again, nowadays, following the appearance of new Deviants andan even greater danger.
A primordial emotion
To set up all this context and the problems of the different characters, the director Chloe Zhao, Oscar winner at the start of the year with Nomadland, alternates between flashbacks at different times, and the plot of the present. A disturbing choice at first, but which allows him to develop the character of the protagonists as well as possible. Because with 10 Eternals to introduce (Ajak, Sersi, Ikaris, Thena, Kingo, Sprite, Phastos, Makkari, Druig and Gilgamesh), the task was difficult. And yet, she manages to pull off, in one movie, what the MCU has been missing out on for most of the Avengers arc: cause real emotion.
By their relationship to each other and their particularities, the Eternals are all (or almost) touching. There are Sprite, between Pinocchio and the Tinkerbell, stuck eternally in a child’s body. There is Thena, a great warrior but whose ailing mind prevents her from fully utilizing her abilities without risking harming her friends. Or even Druig, who cannot bear to have to remain passive in front of our bloody history.
The film also finds the right dosage to show the feelings of the Eternals between them. A delicate suggestion between Druig and Makkari, a touching and modest story between Thena and Gilgamesh, and much more obvious between Sersi and Ikaris.
A readable but anecdotal action
We regret, however, that The Eternals goes on a little too much on each other’s private life and irrelevant love stories. One way to make them human, more than necessary. All the more pity when an exciting character like Thena would have deserved more presence. Angelina Jolie, who interprets it, is also too long reduced to the background with dialogues that can be counted on the fingers of the hand, when Kumail Nanjiani (Kingo) plays the comedy of service excessively. Beside, the choice of Gemma chan en Sersi is paying off, just like that of the charismatic Ma Dong-seok (Gilgamesh).
In addition, as often in the MCU, the film of Chloe Zhao sorely lacking a real villain. Yet the evolution of a Deviant opens the door to an interesting reflection on the heroism of the Eternals. But, whether with philosophical questions or the most beautiful moments of emotion, The Eternals can not help but reduce them to focus on action. This one is much more pleasant to follow than in previous Marvel productions, despite, in the last part, an increase in digital effects that leave something to be desired.
But if these action scenes manage to keep our attention, it’s mainly because the film assumes a tragic part, where every loss is felt. A million miles from Iron Man’s rude farewells, thanks to the sweetness and subtlety of Chloé Zhao. Failing to be able to really put its visual mark (we cannot be satisfied with a few sunsets in an imagery …