Sunday, November 7, 2021


Movie Name:
Year of Release: 2021
Director: Chloe Zhao
Starring: Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kit Harington, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Ma Dong-seok, Harish Patel, Bill Skarsgard, Haaz Sleiman, Esai Daniel Cross
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 4
View Trailer

Synopsis and Review:
Writer/Director Chloe Zhao is back, following her celebrated and wonderful "Nomadland", which won her all sorts of accolades earlier in the year. This time around she's tackling a Marvel property, focused on a series of immortal beings, originally created by the late Jack Kirby in the 70s. The film introduces us to a group of super powered beings, known as Eternals, who were brought to planet Earth, in order to protect humans and life in general, from a species known as Deviants. Both Eternals and Deviants were created by these celestial creatures, who go from Universe to Universe bringing life to those spaces. As the Eternals manage to eradicate the Deviants from the planet, and they do so centuries ago, they go their separate ways, waiting to be called out so they can go back to Olympia, where they believe they originate from. In the present day however, Deviants appear once more, and start attacking some of the Eternals, starting with Sersi and Sprite who are in London. Ikaris, one of the more powerful Eternals comes in their defense, but the Deviant escapes. As they seek out the counsel and guidance of Ajak, their leader, they realize she has been killed. As Sersi becomes the chosen one to communicate with the Celestial, she soon realizes there's a much more sinister intent to both the Eternals and Deviants reason to be on the planet, and that the group needs to quickly unite to save the planet.
One of the most interesting propositions of this film, is the fact that Chloe Zhao definitely has a sensibility of her own when it comes to how she tackles material. While there are stylistic influences from Terrence Malick, unlike him, Zhao manages to build narratives where we connect with her characters plight, their challenges, their undaunted strength, demonstrating their humanity and also their dimension as fully fledged characters. "Eternals" for all its duration, and for all the diverse characters that are indeed brought together, fails to do so. While for some characters in the narrative, there's a somewhat economical way in which they are described, for the most part all the members of the group are as much of an incognito at the beginning as they are at the end. There isn't much of a journey for many of these characters, and while the intimacy between the central duo, portrayed by Gemma Chan and Richard Madden has some echoes of Terrence Malick's "To the Wonder", once again, it's never truly explained what prompts it, and all that remains is a series of vignettes, reminiscent of a travel guide reel, more so than an illustration of how two characters learn about each other. It's a film where there's a noticeable discrepancy between the type of storytelling Chloe Zhao yearns to accomplish, and the formula by which comic book films, particularly the ones curated and produced by Marvel function. The most successful films from this studio end up being ones where the directors understand this formula, and essentially toy around with it, while giving their characters enough room to actually unapologetically be more than a cliche and have a sense of humor, while deep down understanding there's a certain level of silliness to it all(good examples include for instance Taika Waititi's "Thor: Ragnarok" and even Shane Black's "Iron Man 3"). What we're left with is a lengthy film that hammers the same message repeatedly, and where once again this villain figure isn't quite well defined, and worst of it, is once again this massively digital/abstract creatures without much charisma or presence (the whole "Green Lantern" debacle apparently taught them nothing). Angelina Jolie as always brings her charisma and talent to the fray, with apt support from Gemma Chan, Brian Tyree Henry and Barry Keoghan. The cinematography from Ben Davis is beautiful as is the production design from Eve Stewart (and Chris Wallace). While not a dreadful film, it's not an enticing one.