The Eternals come together to fight the deviants and save earth after thousands of years but is the danger closer to home?
The latest instalment from Disney’s Marvel hit the big screens last week with their newest film, Eternals. With a launch conference in July 2019, just two months after the cinema release of the final Avengers film, Avengers: Endgame and bringing an end to Phrase 3, creating a buzz for the newest (or oldest if you think about the Eternals as the original hero’s) addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe that represents the start of the MCU Phrase 4. The Eternals hit screens internationally in November 2021 and was seen by many generating $161.7 million USD in its opening weekend alone at the box office. (Which is roughly £119,691,148.50) Like many others, I too, was someone who went to see it during its opening weekend. The excitement and energy in the room as it was as filling up, or as full as it could be under Covid restrictions, was felt by everyone. We were all there to just get lost in the magic of hopefully a great story, special effects, and the chance to see our favourite Hollywood A-Listers be embedded into one of the biggest film series of current times for two and a half hours on a cold, winter friday afternoon.
The overall story follows the 10 Eternals (a race of immortal beings with superhuman powers), Ajax (Salma Hayek), Ikaris (Richard Madden), Sersi (Gemma Chan), Sprite (Lia McHugh), Gilgamesh (Don Lee), Thena (Angelina Jolie), Druig (Barry Keoghan), Kingo(Kumail Nanjiani), Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) and Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) as they are brought back together after thousands of years to defeat the deviants that they thought they had defeated centuries ago. Through the process, they work through their own struggles from wanting to be loved, or seeing one another after a long-lasting breakup, to adapting to the modern world while trying not to change history and how humans develop all the while trying to please Arishem, the prime celestial and the person who made them all Eternals and save the humans.
Getting into my thoughts, I though the casting was great first off. The big named stars that flooded the film are all great actors and the audience really got to experience that within this film alongside the less experienced, smaller actors giving star performances. Chan and Madden played the leading characters brilliantly against each other showing the soft, romantic sides to Sersi and Ikaris as well as the harder, battle and fight sequences. Ridloff, playing Makkari, becomes the first deaf superhero in the Marvel Universe (as they have not written Clint Barton (Hawkeye) as deaf like in the original comics) and only uses American Sign Language to communicate with the other Eternals. Although it seems like they all understand her, only a few characters use sign language to speak back with her and even then, it’s not an every time thing for the other characters, which sort of makes it seems less important and as it its less of an achievement to get their first deaf superhero who in turn will represent so many audience members going to see themselves represented on screen, which is a bit of shame but hopefully this might be explored more in future films. Ridloff herself, brings a fantastic performance to the role, and she deserved more screen time in my opinion. One of the standout performances came through the character of Sprite with McHugh only being 14 years of age. Her prominence of the character in this film and the raw emotions Spritedeals with are one that many can relate to, in their early teens, jealousy, love, anger as well as eagerness to grow up quicker. This instalment of Eternals is the first of four, and I for one, can’t wait to see if Sprite returns and to see how McHugh’s acting talent continues to grow through her teens and through the Eternal series.
The design team consisting of Megan Jones, Pancho Chamorro and David Ahern to name a few, did a fantastic job, unsurprising for a Marvel film, as they are known to have extravagant and beautiful sets, with shots taking the audience all over the world, in different time periods as well as to outer space locations on board The Domo, their ship. All looking brilliant, the most visually pleasing sets came in the form of bird-eye view shots of the final battle as well as in the places that Sprite created in her mind to ground Thena during a scene. The design team on all aspects from costume design, to props, set and all the others that go behind the scenes really made this film one to watch, even if just for the aesthetics if not for the story.
That’s not to say that some of it did disappoint me. As stated about, the lack of sign language regarding Makkari being signed to, did disappoint me as an audience member but also as someone with a strong passion for learning sign language and its history, who has been following Lauren Ridloff for years from her previous projects. (I would suggest to watch her in Sound of Metal on Amazon Prime) Another aspect is that even though Marvel films are known to be long in duration, there were moments during this film where I did get distracted and wasn’t that interested, but when I did pick up again, I hadn’t missed much and it was easy to follow, so some of it could have been cut out to make the film slightly shorter and easier to keep the audience’s attention.
In general, I did really enjoy this film, with the twists that I didn’t see coming as well as the general story, casting and appearance of the film all making this an enjoyable experience and one that I think Marvel fans are going to enjoy, as it brings the excitement and storytelling aspects so closely linked with the Avengers into a new set of characters that we get to form a relationship with and get to know throughout the next 3 films that are under the Eternals umbrella. Oh, and that end credit scene is one not to miss if you want to get excited for the next film!