Eternals Review: Chloé Zhao leads these new Marvel heroes to confront the issues that define us as humans.

Eternals Review
Image Credit: Marvel

Eternals Review: It was in August 2018 that Chloé Zhao met with Marvel Studios to show them her idea for an Eternals movie. At that time Nomadland was in the middle of filming. But both the director and Kevin Feige were eager to work together - Zhao was one of the finalists to direct Black Widow. Was Marvel looking for a prestigious director on the rise or was Chloé interested in superhero movies? Probably both and in the end, they both won.

As Zhao and Feige have promised, Eternals begins thousands of years ago. When the human being was just beginning his steps on Earth. This is how we meet the Eternals group, who to the beat of Pink Floyd's “Time”, come to our present time, specifically London. There they continue their mission to protect the planet from the Deviants: extremely dangerous creatures that only they can defeat.

Zhao's case is a very particular one in Hollywood. She is a director from the freelance world who went from managing a budget of $ 5 million to one of $ 200. Another recent example is Jordan Peele, who refused to do Akira, among other things, for not wanting to take such an extreme jump in budgets. He wants it to be more gradual. But Chloé Zhao makes it clear that the union of a capable team, with her prowess as a director, can result in a movie like Eternals, which seems made by someone with a lifetime of experience making blockbusters.

Eternals Review
Image Credit: Marvel

The first thing that stands out in Eternals - and any previous work by Zhao - are the settings. With this film, he covers not only the United States but the entire world. From the Canary Islands to London and even today's Bollywood with everything and a small musical number. Naturally, to portray humanity's past, Zhao and her company had to make use of specially constructed sets, including that of the Great Tenochtitlan,

The director takes her time to introduce the Eternals. Or at least the most important for the development of this story. Perhaps Makkari (Lauren Ridloff), Druig (Barry Keoghan), and Gigamesh (Don Lee) are somewhat forgotten and only serve to advance the script without delving into them enough. On her part, Salma Hayek manages to bring out that Latin maternal instinct and side as the team leader, with a unique serenity capable of reassuring anyone. And this is appreciated by not showing the typical archetype of a leader in a person with a cold temper and screams everywhere.

Ironically, the time the film takes to show us the true conflict of the story ends up hurting it. This happens when trying to find a balance between a great blockbuster and an auteur film. It is until the knot of the second act when we are totally immersed in the plot with its twists and the direction it is going to take from there. However, for those used to a more dynamic build within the MCU, Eternals would be a throwback.

Throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we have seen several productions that embrace some subgenres. We saw political espionage with Captain America and the Winter Soldier, comedy with Thor: Ragnarok, or even robbery movies with Infinity War or Ant-Man. But they all share the same DNA. In the case of Eternals, save for a few mentions of Marvel heroes, the movie seems completely alien. He would even flirt with DC by naming Batman and Superman.

The film is sure to divide opinions about its relationship with the rest of the MCU. On the one hand, there will be those who celebrate that freshness and independence that he shows by moving away from characters already seen. But there will also be those who consider this ‘isolation’ excessive. At times it seems that Eternals does not want to have any relationship with its franchise partners. Yes, it is a production that can be enjoyed by someone who has not seen any previous Marvel movie, but ... what part of the magic of Marvel Studios is that they are all part of a shared universe?

But that lack of connection is compensated by the dynamics of the Eternals, especially when trying to decipher the purpose of their existence. In the end, Chloé Zhao introduces them as beings who have lived on Earth for thousands of years. They have embraced humanity through basic instincts or fears of the human being such as wondering the reasons for their existence, doubting their own abilities, or even seeking to be happy. Thus, Zhao approaches these characters with the same doubts and sensitivity as characters from her films such as The Rider or Nomadland.

Visually Eternals, Chloé Zhao's film, lives up to her previous works. And as a superhero film production, it delivers by delivering an origin story - it literally spans thousands of years - with a central conflict. However, the problem is evident in the attempt to amalgamate these two proposals. The film does not quite fit in and remains only on the promise of what could be. Zhao's vision and a proposal are perceived as contained, as if under his execution there was a film that could have created a whole new scheme for Marvel and its productions, in its scale but especially in its spirit.

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