‘Eternals’ takes MCU to extraordinary heights with emotional, mesmerizing tale

Noah Levine, Life & Arts Film Columnist

“Eternals” follows a group of centuries-old celestial beings dedicated to protecting Earth from a monstrous species called Deviants. Boasting a star-studded cast featuring Richard Madden (“Game of Thrones”), Angelina Jolie (“Maleficent”) and Kumail Nanjiani (“The Big Sick”), this super-blockbuster will surely make a mark on longtime fans. Oscar-winner Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”) crafts a stunning fantasy world ripe with dynamic characters, high stakes and emotion. 

“Eternals” would be nothing without its, well, Eternals. While not the first time Marvel tackled a large ensemble cast, this series addition stands out because of its more intimate character moments and dynamic arcs. Gemma Chan leads the pack with a fitting performance in the role of Sersi. Her character’s attachment to humanity factors heavily into the film’s moral questions. Kumail Nanjiani shines with a comedic yet grounded performance as Bollywood star (and Eternal) Kingo. Ma Dong-seok anchors the cast with his loveable Gilgamesh. Bryan Tyree Henry, Angelina Jolie, Lia McHugh and Lauren Ridloff bring a strong amount of humanity to their roles as well. 

As far as narrative goes, “Eternals” takes a big swing with its multi-century traversing tale of betrayal, heartbreak and family. While present-day elements of the story tend to go in chronological order, the film frequently cuts to key moments from the past to clarify character decisions and traits. Thanks to well-timed edits and pacing, these flashbacks almost always feel beneficial to the story, diving deep into the huge responsibilities and roles of the Eternals. 

As with most Marvel fare, “Eternals” begins to lose itself in its spiralling lore, “rules” and intergalactic baddies. As the narrative reaches its action-packed climax, it almost feels too dizzying to cohesively comprehend. However, “Eternals” differs from its predecessors because it possesses a true feeling of stakes and uncertainty surrounding the safety of the leading ensemble. While the original “Avengers” films and solo stories often played it pretty safe around killing their leading heroes, “Eternals” remains unafraid to toss around its heroic roster, regardless of it being their first cinematic entry. The increased sense of danger adds extra unpredictability to the superhero epic.

By taking the time to separate itself from Marvel’s already established roster of heroes, “Eternals” stands as its own unique narrative and exploration of family. Using locales and characters primarily exclusive to this film’s plot lends itself to a more intimate superhero tale. The dynamic of the Eternals themselves truly feels like a family, even with all of its complexities and emotions. 

4 Celestials out of 5