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  • Writer's pictureEllis Barthorpe

Eternals ★★★

Chloé Zhao

Starring Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry

In what is possibly the most ambitious Marvel project to date, academy award winning director Chloé Zhao teams up with the finger-snapping, world expanding MCU for Eternals: a diverse cast of super-beings sent to Earth to protect humankind from the deviants that invade their planet.

This epic feature is riddled with new lore, new characters and a totally new part of the universe. When an earthquake like event forces the Eternals to emerge from the shadows that they've been hiding in for thousands of years, they return home to their leader Ajak (Salma Hayek) to establish a plan.

The protagonist of the story is Sersi (Gemma Chan), an Eternal who can manipulate matter into different forms. Along with Lia McHugh's Sprite and Richard Madden's Ikaris, she attempts to reform the super group, as things become a lot more threatening than they first seemed.

With this comes an insight in to various different cultures and parts of the world, and it's here that the film feels most comfortable. Glimpses into the world of Bollywood, the busy streets of London and suburban (post-blip) family homes offer grounded moments of true connection and real affection. Once those characters begin to assemble and reform as a super-family, things fall into an all too familiar superhero trope.

So often does a superhero film raise the stakes to an unimaginable level, which in turn actually proves that there are no stakes. As we meet this new team of heroes we assume they will save the day in the end, and suddenly smaller parts of this expansive universe don't seem to matter as much. That being said, the film on its own does well to establish the fragility of these characters, despite their celestial nature and leaves us wanting to spend more time with them.

Certain character driven moments are truly beautiful. Lauren Ridloff's Makkari has an excellent introduction to the universe and her caring nature highlights strong relationships between her and her fellow Eternals. In fact, all of the Eternals have an almost equal part to play in the story and nobody is left behind. Kumail Nanjiani brings a sense of humour that the film would otherwise be lacking, and Angelina Jolie's star quality does not overrule the other magnificent performances.

Kit Harrington delivers a small yet well-received performance as Dane Whitman, and his position as the helpless boyfriend is a perfect twist on an outdated trope.

In moments of combat, the CGI is messy and looks unfinished. Whether it's something as big as a deviant (big monster thing) or something as simple as a bracelet, there does seem to be an overdo on the visual effects despite the majority of the film being shot on location.

Chloé Zhao has introduced us to a new corner of the MCU, and although all of the characters are likeable and given much to do, the stakes are so high that it's difficult to imagine where they can go next. What is excellent is that the film does not use diversity as a plot point, but instead uses diversity to empower communities simply by having badass characters with grit and heart at their core.

Eternals available in cinemas now

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