Opinion

Eternals: Like Diverse Bland Jello🍮

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Let’s be brutally honest. Eternals is not a good movie.
Over the weekend, “The Eternals,” super-model walked its way onto the big Marvel movie stage, to the hoops and hollers of fans; who then watched in stunned silence as she tripped in her Gucci dress on her haphazardly placed action figures, finally landing neatly with a thud onto the stupefied audience below.
Everything from the outset of the Disney PR machine led critics and normies to believe this would be another home run for the most successful film franchise in history. As announced back in 2019, Eternals looked pretty cool and was supposed to represent a new prologue for the MCU.
It instead features the same plot structure as the Country Bears. With ten captain-planet-diverse super-powered immortals defending humanity from the living topiaries, the Deviants, and eventually, each other.
Once you notice the barely distinct technicolor outfits, the dodgy accents, and the AI determined humor, you can’t help but feel that you were tricked into watching the most boring episode of the Power Rangers -there are a striking amount of similarities between the two- ever put to film. Not that the movie deserves an F grade, but like my Algebra grades in high school, earns itself a high D.
And like my trigonometry equations, I can’t tell what Eternals is exactly. Is this film a polemic or nuanced face-ironic film about superhero movies? Perhaps, we should be calling it a fictional drama-documentary-fradramentary?
It’s not all bad, there are certainly some elements that work here. This “superhero” epic is expensively produced, featuring international AAA film stars, showered with gorgeous locations and epic sets, directed by Oscar talent, and is about as exciting as generic potluck jello. Which just so happens to be the same amount of time the dessert requires to set as it is to see this film and drive back home.
The movie’s start and the end are superb, if not a bit baffling, in the logic department. With zapping chemistry between Gemma Chan and Kit Harington – who only briefly appear together- with well lavished backward historical glances and approximately five funny jokes, all made by Kumail Nanjiani. But otherwise, unless you are into landscape porn, the best thing you can say about Eternals is that one can never go wrong hiring Nanjiani and “Train to Busan” star Ma Dong-Seok.
Here we have another case of the Black Widow. After spending two years in production, with a budget of $200 million, this sedative-hypnotic is as puzzling to the normie MCU goers as it was predictable to comics readers. The film doesn’t even affect the MCU universe canon in significant ways, as the characters and their concerns somehow play entirely outside the notice and care of those characters, like Doctor Strange or Spiderman, that people actually care about.
It’s a bad sign when the top reason for hardcore MCU fans to see your new movie is a mid-credits sequence featuring one drunk, poorly rendered CGI hobbit and that one guy from One Direction that goes to posh parties in a dress.
🚩🚩🚩🚩
It doesn’t take a turbo-nerd to see that a lot of red flags were ignored.
Befuddlingly, Kevin Fiege set his heart on the obscure Jack Kirby Eternals series from the 1970s. Coming from the mind of the Captain America creator, Jack Kirby, an enormously influential figure in the history of comics, wanted another chance to get right his “new gods” mythos, which he started at DC as “The Fourth World” but got canned before completion. It’s a story about godlike humans and monsters fighting each other while trying to avoid the corrupting properties of the purple people called deviants. It is also an extremely unpopular property that’s only ever survived as many as 19 issues and quickly canceled after every single relaunch.
Kevin Feige’s first sin was hubris. The second was pride.
Fiege repeated his mistake with “Captain Marvel” when he assigned the indie drama film creators Anna Boden and Ryan K. Fleck to head that awful MCU tentpole. Of all the directors in the world that would jump at the chance to make a marvel feature- i.e., as in all of them- the person Feige strangely assigned to helm this Sisyphean adaptation and somehow fit it into the comfortable formula of the MCU; was Chloé Zhao. 
Zhao had never worked on an action title before in her life, nor had she previously dealt with handling the mega-budget and tight scheduling required to manage a film of this size. While Zhao is a favorite director of mine for showcasing my home state of South Dakota (Zhao can come and stay anytime), in all honesty, her darling status came from winning an Oscar for the haunting and provocative film “Nomadland.” A movie, which among other things, was about Frances McDormand crapping in a bucket.🪣
It turns out making quasi-biographical fradramentaries does not translate well to crafting superhero fight-outs. And without assigning talents to help Zhao acclimate, Fiege indulged her with whatever she desired, even if those costly investments didn’t improve the overall product.
When Zhao wanted only on-location shoots, at the most exclusive of geography, with the accompanying price-point to match; or to force the first gratuitous on-screen sex scene in the MCU, Feige gave it to her. So, what if spending 2 hours talking about their feelings doesn’t fit an action film in the MCU; Zhao got an Oscar for doing it in Nomadland.
It also cannot escape notice that the modern Eternals story heavily featured a contagion storyline, with the feared Deviant gene. This narrative became a no-go proposition during the covid pandemic. So whatever merits the original story might have had as a Thanos prequel got replaced with fragrum gelatos. Disney likely should have delayed the project indefinitely. Still, once you sign up Angelina Jolie, one must go on with the show. Even if that show is as enjoyable as watching two toddlers in Captain America and Iron Man costumes roll around in the mud.
Mmmmm, Jello🍮
Frankly, as a fan of Zhao and Kirby, I wanted this film to be better than it was.
What we have here is the gussied-up strawberry Jello of the Superhero genre. The original Eternals story, from the Jack Kirby comic series of the 1970s -of which this film only shares similarities in but name- is like the top sirloin fillet mignon of the comics world. An ultimately very satisfying cut of beef, something everyone should try at least just once, but not an easy dish to mass-produce. The MCU, on the other hand, is the steak chain restaurant, providing enjoyable, affordable meals; but unlike what the Outback Steakhouse slogan says, “No Rules, Just Right” follows a strict recipe. A formula that only works if you have the right amount of the necessary tangents – a pinch of comics lore, a handful of action set pieces, and a whopping ton of Hollywood charisma- all ingredients Eternal’s is desperately missing. What we have here is fancy Jello, creative, and a tad flavorful, but it cannot ever hope to keep up with the steak.
Hopefully, with any luck, the Eternals was only the appetizer for the main entry that will be Spiderman: No Way Home, which comes out next month, bringing back my boi Tobey Maguire with it.
So no, moviegoers, skip this entry unless you require a sleep aid; that is.😴
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My brother took my nephews to it as a treat and it was mostly too long for 3 pre-teen boys
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