Eternals ★★★★

Eternals, the film that has Film Twitter tied up in knots even more so than it usually is. Opinions on this film run the gamut and I have to say,,, I quite enjoyed it. At the top I have to get the one big criticism out of the way, there was just a touch too many characters for all of them to feel fully realized and in turn bring all of the relationships the depth they need. Maybe in shaving off two characters the film would have had the breath it needed to bring everything fully to life, as each storyline, outside of the dynamics between Sersi and Ikaris, felt like it needed just one more scene. Which, hopefully that would have enabled what was going on with Sprite feel more earned, as that character choice, felt like it needed a bit more explanation. I'm only half joking, but why couldn't the sex scene been with Kit Harrington and not on a literal rock! Gemma Chan deserves something more pleasurable than that! This is just me getting the criticisms out of the way, because I genuinely really liked this movie!

I think the first thing I want to heap praise on is just how this film came off visually. As much as people liked to clown on Feige for him being amazed at how the shots in natural landscapes looked, this film is Sorely Needed in the MCU and where permitting more of them need to do it. Increasingly so I have just felt none the films have a lick of visual depth and it is sadly obvious it is just all green screen. This film, however, felt lush and rich in how it felt and from South Dakota to the Amazon everything just looked great. Which, when the VFX came in with some settings and fight scenes it looked pretty good. I especially loved how the powers and the weapons of the characters looked and the Deviants gave me the same type of feel as the demon creatures in Princess Mononoke.

As for the characters, I felt every single actor brought their A game! Like I said at the top, I wished there had been a little more for each one, but in terms of performances, every single actor brought their characters to life and helped to bridge most of the emotional gaps and connections from the screenplay. Gilgamesh and Thena had a wonderful relationship with each other that brought to the forefront a type of love and sacrifice I found compelling, and Jolie did well in presenting her character's struggle with mental health. After seeing her SHINE on The Walking Dead, Lauren Ridloff was an absolute scene stealer, as she brought an infectious energy to the film and is easily the most interesting Speedster I have seen on film. Sersi, Ikaris, and the metaphorical third person in that relationship of humanity/Earth itself, was just a beautiful, complicated, tragic love story that I found grounded the film and really was essential in making its larger thematic elements work.

In all of the coverage of the film and the many uninteresting quibblings over "does it feel like an MCU film" not a lot gets into the thematic elements. Which, as the film unfolds, what I found particularly interesting were the conversations and conflicts these characters had on the nature of free will, creation, and what should or should not be sacrificed. All of these tensions are what had me riveted as the film built towards its climax. I also loved that the real conflict actually stayed among the Eternals themselves and them having to wrangle where they stand and that many of them had their own unique stances and insights. Which, I didn't mention him above, but Barry Keoghan as Druig was the most compelling voice in these arguments. I can only hope going forward that films like this and shows like Loki can have their own space in this larger universe to wrestle with genuinely complex and thorny ideological and philosophical questions, because they can be quite refreshing.

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