After a streak of consistently popular films, “Eternals” is one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most controversial installments, with mixed reception reflected by the MCU’s lowest Rotten Tomatoes critic score, currently sitting at 47%.
Directed by Chloe Zhao, “Eternals” centers around a group of godlike beings who protected the development of intelligent life for millennia, but chose not to intervene in major human conflict. The Eternals weaved their way into human mythology across several cultures, with each member of the ensemble cast correlating to an existing god or mythological character.
With such a wide array of perspectives surrounding the film, Journal staff members decided to see “Eternals” for themselves and discuss their thoughts. Here’s what some of the Journal’s writers and editors think of “Eternals.”
I was skeptical upon hearing that Marvel was moving to “Phase Four” after “Avengers Endgame.” I didn’t think it was possible to have something as amazing as the Avengers, Marvel’s most iconic heroes.
“Loki,” “WandaVision” and “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” were all fine – not the greatest in my opinion – yet to me, even these didn’t veer as far from the classic Marvel heroes as “Eternals.” At least the TV shows focused on individuals I already knew and admire.
After watching “Eternals,” my skepticism was confirmed: it didn’t live up to Marvel’s previous movies. However, I did think it was a good movie overall, even if it didn’t reach Avengers level – and let’s be real, when can anything ever surpass the positive nostalgia of an old favorite?
Looking past my unrealistically high standards, “Eternals” did many things that I enjoyed. As a lifelong fan of Greek mythology, I had so much fun connecting the dots on which mythological characters each Eternal represented and thinking about how these mythologies relate to their backstories. While I feel like the movie could have differentiated the flashbacks from present-day scenes better, the beautifully intricate set designs impressed me.
The critique of having “too many” characters is understandable. I definitely felt less connected to the characters with less screen time. Despite this, I think that having so many characters spread out and living diverse lives could lend itself to another Marvel series on Disney+. While they’re not the original Avengers, I would sit down to watch each episode or two detailing a character’s time between scenes of the movie.
In the end, “Eternals” could not compare to Avengers for me. However, I don’t think any of Marvel’s upcoming movies could. So maybe being different was the point.
Here’s my unprofessional movie critic review from a sports editor: “Eternals” was a good movie.
I don’t know much about Marvel outside of Toby Maguire’s Spider-Man, but I got into the MCU because it was a different approach to cinema. I really enjoyed following along with all of those Marvel movies, from “Iron Man” to “Avengers Endgame.” The presentation of another potential series with Marvel had me hooked, even though I had never even heard of the Eternals before.
The director, Chloe Zhao, did a decent job of explaining the background of these secret protectors of Earth in a reasonable timeframe. I was never bored or confused about what was happening. The action scenes and fight choreography were extremely detailed and engaging, and the creativity of graphics and CGI weren’t too over the top.
I’d say “Eternals” is a five-star movie solely for Angelina Jolie, because I love her. Keep in mind, this is from the mind of a sports editor, so take everything I say with a grain of salt.
I enjoyed “Eternals” more than I expected to; It’s a deeply flawed film with strong aspects. The directing, cinematography, score and acting are solid, but the abysmal pacing and script significantly detract from the story.
While “Guardians of the Galaxy” successfully made a cast of less recognizable Marvel characters into iconic mainstays, “Eternals” wasn’t as successful. I’m genuinely surprised I could name almost every character after I left the theater. That said, the characters are inoffensive at worst and extremely enjoyable at best. Were this a Disney+ series with each character receiving sufficient screen time, the ensemble cast could’ve worked.
The standout characters are Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) and Makkari (Lauren Ridloff), who have the coolest powers (technomancy and superspeed, respectively), give excellent performances and are much-needed representation. Out of all “Disney’s first LGBTQ+ characters,” Phastos is the first, outside animated shows like “The Owl House,” whose identity is explicit and inseparable from the story, and Makkari, an authentically cast deaf superhero, communicates with her team in American Sign Language.
Additionally, Makkari achieved something I thought impossible: Hollywood allowing speedsters to go fast. Following Quicksilver’s iconic time-slowing scene from “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” every speedster nowadays slows time to visualize their speed for the audience, leading to overdone, sluggish depictions of superspeed. Thankfully, Makkari gets one of the fastest and most entertaining speedster action scenes since “The Incredibles.” Here’s hoping 2022’s “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” learns from her.
Despite being invested in most of the characters, the awkwardly paced plot only develops some of them. The constant flashbacks often repeat information the audience already knows instead of communicating other unclear details. There’s also a recurring problem of characters coming up with explanations out of literally nowhere to move the plot along, instead of uncovering mysteries with clues along the way.
“Eternals” is a film about how humanity deserves to be protected despite its flaws, and the overanalytic media studies major in me sees parallels between this theme and the film itself. It’s far from perfect and is weaker than most of the MCU, but I saw the good in “Eternals” and I want it to get a second chance. With some fine-tuning, “Eternals” has potential for a fantastic Disney+ series.
Even though I didn’t like the movie, I have to give it up to Chloé Zhao for tackling such an ambitious extension of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thinking about the movie in hindsight, it was impossible to meaningfully sell the audience on 10 main characters, even when allotted 2 hours and 37 minutes to tell that story.
After watching it, “Eternals” reminds me of“Justice League,” in that both movies had to cover so much ground in so little time. At least “Justice League” got a chance at redemption with a four-hour recut, but this is a privilege that Marvel’s “Eternals” will unfortunately never get.