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At The Movies: From here to ‘Eternals’land

“Eternals” introduces a whole new world to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

The science-fiction fantasy film is directed by Chloé Zhao, Oscar recipient, picture and director, “Nomadland” (2020), for which she was also an Oscar nominee, screenplay and editing.

Zhao went from directing “Nomadland,” one of the most independent of films, in concept, story, direction and acting, to “Eternals,” one of the most dependent of movies, in concept, story, direction and action.

Welcome to MCU graduate school, Chloé Zhao.

“Nomadland” was a critical and commercial hit. “Eternals” is a critical miss and commercial hit.

The characters in “Eternals” are known to Marvel Comics fans. The characters may be mostly new to movie fans of the MCU. The Eternals are 10 superheros from the past. Think: A more well-behaved “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014).

“Eternals” is a big, sprawling epic that, in Marvel end-credits fashion, sets up a sequel. Given “Eternals” box office success, a sequel is guaranteed.

“Eternals” moves clumsily from present to past to future to who-knows when or where in a screenplay as confusing as it is confounding. “Eternals” needed a good editor. (Yours truly raises hand.)

The screenplay was written by Zhao, Patrick Burleigh (“Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway,” 2021) and Ryan Firpo and Kaz Firpo (their feature film screenplay debut), based on a screen story (What screen story?) by the Firpos based on Marvel Comics characters created by Jack Kirby. Where’s Stan Lee when we need him? Probably hanging out in eternity with Kirby.

“Eternals” has spectacular visuals, as can be expected, nuanced here by Zhao’s penchant for rock-strewn vistas, back-lighting, and the golden-hour of the film-making day in the cinematography by director of photography Ben Davis (“Cry Macho,” 2021; “Captain Marvel,” 2019; “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” 2017).

The storyline in “Eternals” is said to take place after “Avengers: Endgame” (2019).

“Eternals” is an origin story. It’s also a creation story. It purports that humanoid superheroes were around since time began, behind the scenes, pulling strings, doing things. Sounds to me like a certain Rolling Stones’ song. Then again, maybe I myth something.

Speaking of songs, the film opens promisingly enough with Pink Floyd’s “Time” and ends with a rouser, Foreigner’s “Feels Like The First Time.” Why, I have not idea. The songs give the film much-needed energy to jolt it from its lethargy.

Much has been made of the diversity and depiction of the characters in “Externals.” The discussion is beside the point. The point is that “Eternals” is a mess.

One of the characters in “Eternals” is Gilgamesh (not to be confused with the Sumerian king, circa 2800-2500 BC, nor the protagonist of the epic poem, “Epic of Gilgamesh,” circa 2nd millennium BC). In one scene in “Eternals,” the character, Gilgamesh (Don Lee) is jokingly transformed into a big baby wearing a bib that states Gilga Mess.

That scene pretty much sums up the film.

“Eternals” is two films, or even three films, in one. (Insert drum rim shots here.)

In one film, “Eternals” is a superhero film with many intense battle scenes, where the Externals fight the Deviants, who are among the ugliest and most disgusting monsters Computer Generated Imagery ever brought to the big screen. The Deviants are sinewy creatures, almost all muscle, in the shape of lizard-like ferrets.

In the second film, in “Eternals,” Sersi (Gemma Chan) is in love with Ikaris (Richard Madden), who apparently dumped her millennia ago. Sersi now plays it safe, dating Dane Whitman (Kit Harington), with whom she works at the Natural History Museum, London.

In the third film, in “Eternals” are those with, to quote a cliche, issues. Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) is a star of Bollywood films who wants to be taken seriously as an actor. Sprite (Lia McHugh), is stuck at age 12 and wants to be able to grow up. Ajak (Salma Hayek) is apparently codependent in that she seems to want to save everybody (Mighty Mouse and Superman were also codependent. Aren’t all superheroes? Now there’s a title for a superhero film: “Codependents.”). Thene (Angelina Jolie) is seemingly royally peeved (or perhaps reflecting on when she could carry a franchise, as in “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” 2001, 2003.). Druig (Barry Keoghan) is just peeved.

There’s also Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), said to be the first gay character in an MCU feature film; Karun (Harish Patel), Kingo’s valet; Makkari (Lauren Ridloff, a deaf actress); Kro (voiced by Bill Skarsgård), and Arishem (voiced by David Kaye).

At times, the emotions in “Eternals” is operatic, as in soap opera. I am waiting to see the tell-all headlines on the tabloids at supermarket checkout counter racks.

Oh, for the days of uncomplicated cartoon superheroes. Popeye the Sailor Man ate spinach. He fought Bluto. And he loved Olive Oyl.

“Eternals” is the 26th feature film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Bet on a 27th, 28th and ... You get the picture. Yes, you will get the picture, like it or not.


MPAA rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned: Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.) for fantasy violence and action, some language and brief sexuality; Genre: Science-Fiction, Fantasy; Run Time: 2 hr., 26 min. Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous:

An opening prologue is displayed in a “Star Wars”-like vertical crawl.

“Eternals” was filmed on the Canary Islands, Spain, and in London and Pinewood Studios, England, and Los Angeles.

Midway through the end credits, Eros-Starfox (Harry Styles) appears with his aide, Pip the Troll (Patton Oswalt). I was expecting Styles to break into one of his awesome concert stage dances.

At the end of the end credits, Dane Whitman (Kit Harington) opens a drawer to reveal the Ebony Blade of the Black Knight.

Finally, at the very end of the end credits, a statement announces: “Eternals will return.” Thanks for the warning.

At The Movies:

“Eternals” was seen in the Dolby format at Movie Tavern Trexlertown.

Theatrical Movie Box Office,

Nov. 12-14: “Eternals” continued for a second straight week at No. 1 with $27.5 million, in 4,090 theaters, $118.7 million, two weeks, as “Clifford the Big Red Dog” opened at No. 2, with $16.4 million, in 3,700 theaters, for the weekend, and $22 million since opening Nov. 10.

“Dune” dropped one place, $5.5 million, 3,282 theaters, $93.1 million, four weeks. 4. “No Time to Die” dropped one place, $4.6 million, 2,867 theaters, $150.4 million, six weeks. 5. “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” dropped one place, $4 million, 2,538 theaters, $202.7 million, seven weeks. 6. “Ron’s Gone Wrong” dropped one place, $2.2 million, 2,430 theaters $20.7 million, four weeks. 7. ”The French Dispatch” dropped one place, $1.8 million, 1,225 theaters, $11.6 million, four weeks. 8. “Belfast,” opening, $1.8 million, 580 theaters. 9. “Spencer” dropped one place, $1.5 million, 1,265 theaters, $4.6 million, two weeks. 10. “Antlers” dropped one place, $1.2 million, 1,825, $9.6 million, three weeks.

Box office information from Box Office Mojo as of Nov. 14 is subject to change.


Nov. 19:

“Ghostbusters: Afterlife,”

PG-13: Jason Reitman directs Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, Carrie Coon, Sigourney Weaver, Paul Rudd, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson in the Comedy Fantasy. The legend of the original “Ghostbusters” (1984) is explored.

“King Richard,”

PG-13: Reinaldo Marcus Green directs Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis, Jon Bernthal and Saniyya Sidney in the Biography Drama. Tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams are mentored by their father Richard Williams.

“C’mon C’mon,”

R: Mike Mills directs Joaquin Phoenix, Gaby Hoffmann, Woody Norman and Scoot McNairy in the Drama. A radio journalist goes on a cross-country trip with a young nephew.


No MPAA rating: David Silverman and Raymond S. Persi direct the voice talents of Adam Devine, Rachel Bloom, Ken Jeong and Zazie Beetz and the animation in the Adventure Comedy. Op and Ed time-travel from the Galapagos Islands in 1835 to present-day to learn that they are extinct.

Movie opening dates information from Internet Movie Databased as of Nov. 14 is subject to change.

Two Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO COURTESY WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES Ten superheroes from the past appear in “Eternals.”