‘Eternals’: Chloé Zhao stumbles upon her superhero movie

‘Eternals’

From the beginning, it was puzzling that Chloe Zhao was to direct one of the films of Marvel. It is true that Disney had already signed several directors from the indie movies American to bill some episode of his universe of superheroes (James Gunn, Jon Watts, Destin Daniel Cretton), but none was a priori so far from the style of these films, hypervitamin, bombastic and always full of humor. Zhao had so far produced an intimate and heartbreaking trilogy about the marginalized of deep America, with great weight of the documentary style and the use of non-actors, which after Songs My Brothers Taught Me (2015) and The Rider (2017) reached its zenith with Nomadland (2020), which won this year’s Oscars with the awards for best film, director and actress for Frances McDormand. The collision of such disparate worlds, as expected, has not turned out well: Eternals it’s basically dull, flat, and somewhat depressing.

The film features the Eternals, a race of immortal beings who come to Earth 5,000 years before Christ to defend humans from monsters called Deviants. They are 10 warriors with faces as well known as those of Angelina Jolie The Salma Hayek and with different characteristics each one of them, although none is too original (a transcript of Superman here, another of Flash there …). Nowadays, each of them has been living as normal humans for hundreds of years since they thought they had finished with their mission, but their enemies will resurface and they will be forced to meet again to fight against the threat.

Perhaps the most striking thing about the film, which after Shang Chi once again opts for an oriental protagonist —the actress Gemma Chan—, is that Marvel presents the first sex scene of the entire saga (quite demure, all be said) and also to first homosexual superhero, the character played by Brian Tyree Henry. But they are still cosmetic decisions to adapt to the new times that do not make Eternals be a better movie. It is also curious that in some way the film, shot in some locations in the Canary Islands, anticipated the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano.

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Although there are not many direct connections with other films in the saga, the film does maintain certain constants such as the need to include a comic relief (actor Kumail Nanjiani), which in this case doesn’t work too well, and an accelerated and bombastic climax which is interchangeable with any of these productions. On the other hand, Zhao’s hand is noticeable in some planes of a certain beauty whose protagonists are an exalted nature of wild beaches and rock formations with a surreal look and, also, a delicate look at the greatness of ordinary lives. But it is not enough to take the film to another level, while those accustomed to this cinema surely find these details as a hindrance.

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‘Eternals’: Chloé Zhao stumbles upon her superhero movie

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