2021, Movies

Eternals (2021, Chloe Zao)

Well, we have a winner for the “Worst MCU Movie.” I’m sure you’ve heard that already but apparently I had to see it to believe it.

Like every MCU movie, this has extremely high production values. So it’s kind of hard to understand how something with this budget and with this cast could be this terrible. I suspect there are a few reasons, one of which is fundamental to the characters and is not the fault of the film.

Do you like Superman as a character? I think he’s a bad character. I also think Thor is a bad character. Eternals main conceit is, what if there were 11 of these bad characters, wouldn’t it be better? My answer is no.

I understand that these characters are not invincible in the way that Superman and Thor essentially are, but they are still too close to actual gods. And I think I’ve only seen one movie that did an even remotely reasonable job of capturing what it might be like to live for thousands of years and this sure wasn’t it. (It’s Only Lovers Left Alive if you care.) It’s hard to make a good movie when your characters suck and these characters suck: with maybe one exception, they sure don’t appear to have actually been alive for thousands of years and, even though they’re far from immortal, the fact that they need to be killed and can’t die naturally is never mined for anything. It’s one thing for characters to repeat ad nauseum that they are very old, it’s another thing for them to act like it.

The next problem is the plot. This is an extremely long movie, as you would expect from the MCU. There is a broadly typical MCU story of a bunch of heroes with limited powers ganging up to oppose a world-destroying threat, something we’ve seen too many times before.

But this is padded out with flashbacks to various points in world history where this gang were supposedly present. They’re credited with supposedly helping us along, which is one of those tropes that I just hate with a passion. Now, that’s not the film’s fault, but I’m not even sure if all of them make sense. I’m not even sure what’s supposed to happen with the part in Mexico. But the broader point is that, every time the film jumps back in time, it lapses into this weird “Gods talking about people/Gods determining people’s lives” thing and loses any dramatic momentum the film may have had. These scenes are among the worst scenes in the entire MCU in terms of how they are conceive and written. They are lazy and they don’t add anything. (And the cast takes them so seriously.)

On that note, much of the dialogue is among the worst the MCU has to offer. There are tons of the usual stupid “moral” debates that the Avengers used to have that do not feel much different when they are being uttered by demi-gods. And the usual fights occur, with people quitting and so on. It’s all the same old thing, nothing we haven’t seen before. Only this time it’s not entertaining, there are very few effective one-liners and, again, the characters just suck.

The plot is pretty telegraphed, given the screen-time a relative unknown (among this cast) gets to being the film. And we’re expected to believe that yet another world-destroying threat is confronting humanity, one that somehow Shield is completely unaware of. (But the defeat of Thanos inspired this battle! So, that’s supposed to mean the plots are actually connected and the universe is coherent. I think.)

It’s just a shitty movie. And it’s all the more shocking given how much money is clearly behind it and how much acting talent was assembled to make it.

Easily, the worst MCU movie I’ve seen. And this is coming from someone who doesn’t like the MCU movies!


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