Scott Hardie: “It sucked.”

I agree with the critics and audiences who have judged this to be one of Marvel's worst films ("a steaming hot pile of garbage" was my wife's summary). There are several very serious flaws:

• The heroes are all god-like beings, nearly impervious to harm. Thus, they have little stakes in their conflicts. Even if they fail in their goal, they'll be fine. This feels far more like DC's approach to superheroes than Marvel's.

• The heroes have very little personality. The actors strain to liven up the material (Kumail Nanjiani has a great spontaneous line that I assume was ad-libbed), but the two main characters in particular are just blank voids. How boring.

• There are no villains. The Marvel films have been accused of dull villains before, but this one barely has any at all. The figures positioned as antagonists are utterly lacking in personality and barely make any impression.

• The pacing is extra slow. This is Marvel's second-longest movie, longer than even the jam-packed Avengers: Infinity War but with a fraction of the plot to cover, so it cannot sustain any kind of momentum or excitement.

• There are numerous confusing moments that are potential plot holes. How did she know that? Why did he do that? How did that event happen? Kelly and I spent most of the drive home asking these questions and trying to make sense of the messy narrative.

With a really good script doctor who could have punched up the dialogue with some liveliness and wit -- hello, Nanjiani is right there -- this might possibly have been good, or at least fun. It's weird that ChloƩ Zhao pitched Marvel on an updated version of the Eternals that gender-swapped several characters, made them multi-racial, made one deaf, made one gay, and so on, and yet didn't seem to think that any of them needed a personality infusion too. These are just boring empty avatars in stupid outfits, color-coded so that we can tell them apart like the Power Rangers. What a disappointment, and a waste of the massive resources it must have taken to produce this giant boring movie.

If the film has one great element, it's the photography. I haven't seen any other ChloƩ Zhao film besides Nomadland so I don't know if this qualifies as her signature look, but both movies have an appreciation for the beauty of natural landscapes in natural lighting. It's rare to see superhero battles in real sunlight and real settings (ie. actual trees and grass instead of CGI-generated fakery), but that choice pays off. This movie is a failure, but at least it looks really good.

− November 24, 2021 • more by Scottlog in or create an account to reply

Scott Hardie: Two things have made me wonder if this movie will age well.

A Marvel fan recently told me that based on his knowledge of the comics, this movie seemed to spend a lot of time establishing a lot of details about the greater cosmos in the MCU, and he thinks that audiences will appreciate it more in hindsight once everyone sees how much groundwork it had to lay. I'm skeptical of this, since the first Guardians of the Galaxy also did a ton of world-building AND managed to be hugely entertaining, but I'd like to be wrong.

Also, I've been thinking a lot lately about themes of power and ethics, particularly since we're re-watching season 1 of Jessica Jones and season 2 of Agent Carter which both deal heavily with those same themes. I definitely didn't give Eternals enough credit for the big philosophical ideas driving the plot. Here's a group of super-beings who have the ability to help ordinary humans in need and a commandment never to use those abilities. That's an exciting conflict, and the schism that forms in the team over whether their abilities in fact obligate them to help ordinary humans is one of the MCU's more thoughtful explorations of the topic. In fact, it could be argued that different Eternals embody different ideas about how power should be applied (if I remember correctly after this long): Druig that people must always be helped with their power, Phastos who channels his power into other works if he cannot use it, Ikaris that their commandment is what restrains them from abusing their power, Thena that she deserves the right to make her own choice without manipulation, Sersi that they should do the "right" thing even as her conscience changes her mind as to what that means, and so on. The movie failed as entertainment, but I don't think it failed as a philosophical exercise; somewhere there's a Philosophy 101 student who got a decent essay out of it.

I don't know if a sequel will happen, but I wouldn't mind seeing an episode of What If...? that depicts what would have happened if the Eternals had intervened against Thanos during the events of Avengers: Infinity War, since the line of dialogue in the film about why they sat out the conflict doesn't feel satisfying. − April 1, 2023 • more by Scott

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Evie Totty: “It was ok.”

This review contains spoilers. Reveal it.

− December 2, 2021 • more by Evielog in or create an account to reply

Scott Hardie: This reply contains spoilers. Reveal it. − December 7, 2021 • more by Scott

Evie Totty: Haha FOR REAL! − December 7, 2021 • more by Evie

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Matthew Preston: “It was ok.”

This review contains spoilers. Reveal it.

− January 14, 2022 • more by Matthewlog in or create an account to reply

Scott Hardie: This reply contains spoilers. Reveal it. − January 15, 2022 • more by Scott

Matthew Preston: This reply contains spoilers. Reveal it. − January 15, 2022 • more by Matthew

Evie Totty: LOL Saaaaaame.

BTW - Scott, would you say this movie was boring? − January 16, 2022 • more by Evie

Scott Hardie: Yes. And I believe that's one of the worst things that you can say about a movie. The Room was terrible, but it wasn't boring. − January 16, 2022 • more by Scott

Scott Hardie: A friend of mine fell asleep while seeing it in the theaters. :-( − January 17, 2022 • more by Scott

Matthew Preston: Yikes, I've known some folks to drift off in a movie theater, but some of that blame has to be on how comfortable the seats are these days. :-) − January 17, 2022 • more by Matthew

Matthew Preston: After watching Encanto for the 8th time (not an exaggeration!), I realized that we could use Lin- Manuel Miranda to do a character intro song for all of the Eternals at the beginning of this film. Something where each character's name is sung several times, a brief background on them, and what their powers are. It would be extremely helpful (and fun to watch)! − January 17, 2022 • more by Matthew

Scott Hardie: Kelly, who really enjoyed Encanto and has been humming the songs for two days, thoroughly approves of your idea and started making up the lyrics as soon as I mentioned it. − January 18, 2022 • more by Scott

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