Well, they can’t all be winners. With the arrival of Chloé Zhao’s Eternals, somewhere Alan Taylor, director of Thor: The Dark World, is breathing a sigh of relief; he’s no longer responsible for the worst Marvel film.
The Eternals are a group of 10 alien superbeings who have hidden on Earth for the past 7000 years, fighting the monstrous Deviants on behalf of the Celestial (read: God) Arishem. Having seemingly defeated the Deviants, which are big CGI beasties of various forms, some 500 years ago, the Eternals have scattered. Now, the death of one of their number brings them back together to fight a Deviant resurgence. However, there’s something about their past they don’t know, and soon they’ll be fighting a bigger threat than they ever imagined.
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Comics legend Jack Kirby’s cosmic nonsense filtered through a secret history/hidden magic lens that takes us from the depths of space to the splendour of ancient Babylon and more, with perhaps the most impressive cast Marvel has yet assembled filling out the roster of costume-clad demigods. Unfortunately, what we get is a slow, turgid, lifeless mess bereft of charm, personality, and momentum, yet obviously enamoured of its own sense of self-importance.
Eternals is a slog; clocking in at almost two and a half hours it does nothing to earn that running time, consisting mostly of info-dumps (I lost track of how many times the same plot, themes, and backstory were related to us by different characters at different times) and flashbacks that are meant to invest the film with a sense of sweep and grandeur, but instead are completely inert onscreen. I don’t know how you manage to make the sack of Tenochtitlan boring, but Zhao managed it.