In Chloé Zhao’s “Eternals” the superheroes are linked on a myriad of levels including possessing interlocking rings, shafts, and powerful bolts of light that shoot out from their being.
Now to the light which is simply cosmic energy that they share and is found in the piping that lines their uniforms and where they use the shape-shifting weaponry to call upon to fight the vicious Deviants (monsters).
What director Zhao does with the energy aka “the light” is visually stunning, turning this into something lush and elegant.
When we meet the Eternals, they have spent 7,000 years on Earth saving lives and an organized and unified army of solid warriors. All of them have equal powers like the gift of teleportation, flight, and super-strength.
Despite these souls possessing the same special abilities, they are diverse in their characters. Four of the Eternals are white, three are Asian, two are African-American and one is Latina. To spread more diversity and inclusion one is deaf, one is an androgynous tween who never grows up, and the other is gay.
Zhao is one of the first women — and one of the first Asians — to step into directing a film in this well-ordered superhero universe. Her other film “The Rider” and “Nomadland” won Best Picture at the 93rd Academy Award ceremony. Both films began to define her filmmaking imprint which can be described as visually poetic and with intent.
But in her visual choices with “Eternals”, it’s clear that she’s made a decision to shelf that highly unique visual expression and to embrace the straight-up visual conventionality that is part of Marvel filmmaking. In short, she fell in line and although there is a level of disappointment it’s understandable.
Remember, that these immortal beings have lived through most of human history, and to keep us on the same page, the story moves through a series of flashbacks wrapped around key clues and relationships that happened at Babylon, Hiroshima, and Mesopotamia.
These externals arrive just in time whenever the monsters — the Deviants — threaten the human race and on occasion, they inserted their influence in the evolution of civilization.
In our modern world, each Eternal has an assigned home and despite being very, very old we later learn that they can indeed die.
Our heroine is Sirse (Gemma Chan) a wonderfully three-dimensional character posing as a London museum curator who has been involved in a love affair —across the centuries— with Ikaris (Richard Madden) which has ended, and where she’s involved in a new romantic affair with a human, Dane (Kit Harington).
The other Eternals include Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) who is hiding in plain sight as a vain Bollywood star. Gilgamesh (Don Lee) is a likable Aussie who prefers living in isolation in the outback. Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) is a charming suburban dad, in Chicago, with a husband and their adorable son.
Makkari (Lauren Ridloff), is a high strung deaf speed dasher, and Thena (Angelina Jolie), is a seasoned warrior who is suffering from “Mahd Wy’ry” (pronounced “mad weary”) due to having lived so long with strong and violent memories — kind of a reverse of Alzheimer disease and
the only cure, which she rejects, is to have the slate of your mind wiped clean.
When called, the Eternals kicks ass and take names when they are
defeating those nasty, and persistent Deviants, who have taken to
attacking them directly. But nothing is easy in this constant battle between good and evil. In walks Ajak (Salma Hayek), the wise and seemingly cool leader of the Eternals, and this soul has been guarding a whopper of a secret — and when we discover what it is, well, here comes the drama on an entirely different level. Here’s the deal, Ajak communicates with a
Celestial is one of those powerful beings that keep the universe going and “he” has shared the Eternals’ true purpose to her, and it’s not what is seems on the purpose. What exactly is this Celestial? God or the devil? Good, or evil?
The real situation is that planet Earth has been the spot for a giant seed pod to give life to a new Celestial, and if the Eternals are on board, well, that means .. a kind of, darkness.
The dilemma is clear and the question on the table is can they agree to defend earth which is essentially their adopted home.
I will leave you to ponder their answer.
Chloé Zhao’s “Eternals” stars Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani, Salma Hayek, Brian Tyree Henry, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, Lauren Ridloff, Lia McHugh.
Chloé Zhao’s “Eternals” — now playing.