THEATRICAL REVIEW: Eternals a diverse, inclusive superhero movie focused on plot, not pyrotechnics

The number one reason people are upset about Eternals is that it isn’t what they’ve come to expect from Marvel films.

But my main issue with that line of thinking is this film was never supposed to be. It’s the most diverse cast, features incredible character exploration, quiet, reflective moments and more development than explosions.

Some might call that slow and meandering – I call it actual storytelling.

For years, Marvel has been focused on quick-moving, fast-paced films with fight sequences and aplomb, but I can’t be the only one starting to feel fight-scene fatigue. For me, the methodical, slowdown pace of Eternals was a gift, not a disappointment.

I’ll be the first to say some of the storytelling is convenient, and there aren’t many plot surprises. But this story of Eternals – a race of immortal beings – trying to keep the world safe is an exercise in restraint during a time where comic book movies have gotten stale.

Oscar-winning co-writer and director Chloé Zhao has created a sensitive film here, and one I’m not surprised is divisive, because it’s such a departure from the typical.

The cast – including Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Barry Keoghan, Ma Dong-seok, Salma Hayek and the scene-stealing Brian Tyree Henry is, far and away, the most interesting in a Marvel movie for a long time.

With mixed-race couples, homosexual superheroes, a deaf hero, a great mix of genders, a fantastic portrayal of Indian culture from Nanjiani and the hilarious, tone-setting Harish Patel, there’s so much diversity and I absolutely loved it.

This is a film that’s entertaining, interesting, beautifully-shot, and one of the most heartening bits of cinema I’ve seen in years. The tides are shifting, and that might piss people off – consciously or unconsciously – but Eternals was a breath of fresh air in a time where we’re getting used to the safe old schtick.

4/5 Stars

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