If it was hotstar who did not premiere Eternals on time yesterday, the culprit was Zee5 today. This was a slot reserved for the Kannada film Garuda Gamana Vrishabha Vahana(GGVV) but then Zee5 did it again! The film was out by midnight but without subtitles! As a paid subscriber and with such an anticipated film, not sure why this was done in the first place. And this is not the first time either! The Malayalam film Operation Java was released without subtitles as well. Following an uproar the subtitles were restored. Just an advice to Zee5, please add english subtitles for your entire repository irrespective of the film or the language. Thankfully, the subtitles are restored at the time of writing this review which means the GGVV review will be out only tomorrow. So this gave me an opportunity to finish off the new Marvel film on Hotstar Eternals which was also delayed by a day. Is the film worth your time, stay tuned.
Story & Screenplay
Eternals follows the story of an immortal race who were responsible for shaping the civilizations on Earth. The story is fairly interesting and unlike a typical Marvel superhero story. The story is mounted differently as well. The screenplay here is more cerebral throughout its runtime which is distinctly different from a conventional Marvel template. The issue here is that when you are watching a superhero film, you expect some level of action. Here the action sequences are present but they aren’t edge of the seat stuff. While the buildup is interesting, as you get a glimpse of the main protagonists and how they have progressed from the start of time, you soon expect the main conflict to begin. Ehile that does start, the conflict is subtle and doesn’t exude of an adrenaline rush. The main reason for this is the lack of a supervillain. The villains here are some random creatures including one of their own whose identity is kept under wraps. So there were some writing issues here which is unlike Marvel.
On the positives, the pop-culture references are refreshing. Some of the sequences including a terrific twist in the tale was quite interesting to watch. But there are hardly any spikes in the drama which acts as a hindrance. Overall, a mixed kind of a screenplay as far as writing is concerned, leading up to a lukewarm final act(but with an interesting mid credit scene).
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are quite engaging and they keep you invested even though the writing falters. The BGM blends well with the drama. The film is a visual delight with some good use of VFX. The visual definitely are a welcome distraction here. Director Chloe Zhao who had last directed the Oscar Winner Nomadland does a good job here but at the end of the day you expected more. The direction was found wanting in a few scenes that focussed just on the glitz and less on the execution.
The performances are pretty good here by a stellar ensemble. Ma Dong-seok as Gilgamesh is a delight to watch and wish he had a little more screentime. Barry Keoghan as Druig has his moments to shine. Salma Hayek as Ajak is aptly cast and she does a good job. Kit Harington as Dane(not Jon Snow) adds a bit of the comic elements to the drama. Lia Mchugh as Sprite is first rate. I was very happy to watch Harish Patel here(our own Ibu Hatela). As Karun he is such a natural onscreen. Richard Madden as Ikaris has an interesting character arc and he is excellent here. Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo is perhaps the actor to watch out here. A perfect combo of comedy and drama, he is the best actor on display here. Angelina Jolie as Thena looks pretty and does a good job. Gemma Chan as Sersi is wonderfully restrained. So the acting department deserves some credit for rescuing this film to an extent.
Eternals is a visually stunning film that falters on the writing front. But it can still be watched once. Available on Hotstar.