Eternals paints a unique Marvel Cinematic Universe picture
This is not your regular Marvel film - and that is not a bad thing.
Eternals is an ambitious endeavour that was always going to be difficult, as introducing at least 10 brand new (to the general public) characters requires a particular vision.
And this film is not short of vision, thanks to Oscar-winning writer-director Chloe Zhao. There is a lot to like here.
No surprises that it is beautifully filmed, surely clocking the most magic hour shots in Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) history.
While there are regular action sequences, there is also time given to what you should do with great power, how hard it is to stand by in the face of wars and disasters, and whether constant protection would effectively turn humans into pets.
It is both vast and intimate.
The scale of some set pieces are too big to not see ramifications in later films, while some of the smaller intimate interactions between our protagonists are real highlights.
Richard Madden as Ikaris is a champion brooder, and even brief moments shared by Druig (Barry Keoghan) and Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) - who communicates through sign language - stand out.
There are firsts for Marvel here, such as the first love scene or the first same-sex kiss - both far more chaste than how they may read in text - but neither of which is as jarring as the first references of DC properties in the MCU.
With no cameos to speak of, Batman and Superman weirdly have about the same number of mentions as Marvel heroes.
But does everything work? Not as a whole.
Giving Kumail Nanjiani's wisecracking Kingo his own comic relief sidekick feels extra - though it is clear that he was famously beefing up to convince as a Bollywood star, not a superhero.
The pacing is also an issue as the foot comes off the narrative accelerator a bit too often and you have to wonder if it needed to be as long as it is (156 minutes).
There is also something to be said about these super-franchises painting themselves into a corner with their need to interconnect, and using end credit scenes as a fallback for the reason to watch, but that is a spiel for another time.
Hopefully, any adverse reaction does not shake Marvel from its foundation of being different and working with the wild cards.
STARRING: Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, Kit Harington, Kumail Nanjiani, Barry Keoghan, Lauren Ridloff, Angelina Jolie, Brian Tyree Henry
WRITER-DIRECTOR: Chloe Zhao
THE SKINNY: After 7,000 years on earth and observing strict orders to not interfere in mankind's progress, 10 extraordinary individuals find themselves having to protect the planet again and possibly break their cardinal rule.
score : 3/5
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