Eternals has plenty going for it. It features a diverse cast that effortlessly fits in place; the film features the first deaf (Mikkari) and first gay (Phastos) superheroes; the cinematography – as is expected from director Chloe Zhao – is sumptuous; fans appear to love it. A 78% score from fans on Rotten Tomatoes is quite alright.
However, when you shift your gaze a little to the left, you find a low 48% percent score by critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics don’t define a film’s entertainment value, but there must be reasons why Eternals has the worst Rotten Tomatoes rating among MCU films.
Eternals tries to fit too many storylines in one film.
Eternals has received praise for its diverse cast, which is a genuine reason to celebrate. However, the size of its cast proves to be its Achilles heel.
The film introduces ten characters that we know next to nothing about. Director Zhao needs to give these ten characters some sort of a backstory to provide them with substance beyond their abilities.
Films like Infinity War and Endgame featured many characters, but by the time the movies arrived, most characters had backstories developed in individual films. Therefore, the films could play out without the directors revisiting each character.
Zhao doesn’t have that luxury in Eternals. She has to build each hero, which, perhaps due to time constraints, doesn’t happen so well. Furthermore, having to keep up with so many characters burdens viewers.
Let’s not forget that the Celestials, Deviants, and Dane Whitman also need backstories. Some of these character lines were bound to suffer, no matter how much time Zhao had to edit the film – and unfortunately, they did suffer.
Some characters in the film feel hollow, diminishing their presence. Gilgamesh’s death had no emotional impact as the film didn’t build him up enough.
The villains suffer the worst character development in Eternals. It feels like their purpose is merely to be the film’s antagonists. Their design is hideous and uninspired, and they contribute little to the plot.
Kro lacks a backstory, making his life’s mission seem hollow. He stumbles onto the beach at the final moments like he’s a character from another film who’s dropped into Eternals. The mediocre villains just don’t fit into the narrative.
The fight scenes aren’t good enough, and the good one doesn’t make sense
Good fight scenes can save a film. The energy from fight scenes excites audiences and can even earn points with critics.
However, Eternals also fails to deliver on that front. The actions scenes are bland, at least compared to other memorable fight scenes in the MCU.
This issue stems from the first one – there’s no emotional connection to the characters. If you don’t connect with the characters, the only thing you’ll see is gifted humans kicking some villains around – and it won’t excite you.
The final act, however, is quite something. However, it is ruined by Kro’s out-of-the-blue appearance. Instead of focusing on the fight, viewers are left to figure out how Kro fits into the narrative. It doesn’t help that he dies just minutes later.
Are you sensing a theme here? Nothing seems to fit in Eternals – and the next point illustrates that fact perfectly.
Sersi and Ikaris’ romantic relationship seems forced
One of Eternal‘s positive points is that it contains moments of intimacy and human interaction that bring smiles to people’s faces and hint at better stories in the future.
The film goes to great lengths to inform the audience of Sersi and Ikaris’ millennia-long love story. Sersi and Ikaris are the film’s main protagonists; therefore, you’d expect their love story to be one of the movie’s strong points – but you’d be wrong.
Their romance seems forced as there’s no spark between the characters. Gemma Chan and Richard Madden are exceptional actors, but they don’t seem to have a natural attraction to each other. Consequently, Sersi and Ikaris’ relationship seems tired (maybe it’s been going on for too long).
Instead of focusing on the central love story, fan attention seamlessly diverts to the romance brewing between Druig and Makkari. Their flirtations weren’t meant to feature in the film, yet they work better than Sersi and Ikaris’ romance.
Also Read: The truth about Gemma Chan’s parents