Fresh from taking home Oscars for best director and best picture thanks to Nomadland, filmmaker Chloe Zhao turned her attention to superheroes, and worked her magic on Marvel’s latest offering, Eternals.
Despite a string of delays thanks to the pandemic, the blockbuster is finally here and promises to have Marvel fans lining up to get a slice of the action, with Gemma Chan leading an all-star cast as Sersi, alongside Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie and Kumail Nanjiani.
The film sees a group of ancient aliens secretly protecting Earth against the Deviants, mutant creatures who wreak deathly havoc on the human race, with their mission spanning several thousands of years.
After spending decades living in peace and believing their work to be done, they are reunited with a bang as the survival of the world is in their hands once again.
Chan takes on the role of Sersi cautiously, with her character growing in confidence throughout the action as she commands charge of her fellow Eternals, and she does well with a sometimes-stunted script.
Nanjiani slips into the part of Kingo to perfection, spending his infinite time on Earth becoming a Bollywood star – as you do. He is matched by ‘valet’ / videographer Karun (Karish Patel), with the pair responsible for many of the jokes but also a lot of the heart at the centre of the action.
It’s through Nanjiani and the ensemble scenes that we really appreciate the Marvel tone shining through – the crew snipe endlessly when they are together, they constantly take jabs at each other and almost push it too far with sarcastic quips, but it’s also clear just how much they love the ‘family’ bond that has been thrust upon them over the centuries – and it’s fun to see this play out on screen.
There is no denying that Zhao has pushed the boundaries of superhero movies beyond the comfort zone of films that have come before Eternals – in just over two hours, she’s given us a gay kiss and a sex scene, but there’s a lot that needs work in terms of plot and pace.
The run time feels bloated, clocking in at 157 minutes, with huge chunks of the film devoted to reuniting members of the Eternals and not enough space afforded to their plan to defeat the Deviants, meaning that when it is time for the climactic battle, things seem rushed and messy.
In a stand-out cast, Madden is often the weakest link in his role as Ikaris, and his delivery sometimes falls flat opposite Chan and Hayek, while Jolie is underused as the mysterious and troubled Thena, with her backstory barely touched on.
All in all, Zhao takes command of the Marvel mantel in style, giving us a mixture of stunts, fun and drama which will not leave fans disappointed. Much has already been said, and spoiled, about that end credit scene but those final few minutes have got us more than ready for the next adventure for the Eternals, and some of their new friends.
Eternals will be released in cinemas on November 5.
Credit: Original article published here.