Marvel’s “The Eternals” was released on Disney+ this week, so I watched it and listened to the soundtrack. It was my first time doing either and it went…not as expected.
What’s it about?
The Earth is being protected by a team of superheroes – but not THOSE heroes, and these ones were here first – and is threatened by eradication by an extremely powerful alien – but not THAT alien, this is a different one that was also here first.
Let me start over.
A superhero team made up of a smorgasbord of talent and powers is sent to Earth 7000 years ago and tasked with protecting humanity from alien monsters. Also, they live so long (though they are called Eternals, they don’t really live up to that title) that their brains sometimes get broken by the number of memories they have.
They have many different powers and some of them are the basis of many myths and legends through history. For example, Thena is (wait for it) Athena and Icarus is…Icarus. However, they are not supposed to interfere with human issues, only protect them from anything that would try to eradicate them. They are supposed to help, and occasionally guide and direct, but never stop human civilization from developing.
But, could it be that they were fighting the wrong enemy the whole time? Gasp.
Is it worth watching?
And thus we are treated to 2.5 hours of what I would describe as being on the worst date with the most exotically attractive person you’ve ever met… Who also happens to be the least interesting person you’ve ever met. Also, they are one of those particular breed of conspiracy theorist who increases the insanity every 20 minutes, but is so attractive that everyone up until now has just said “oh yes, that makes sense”.
Do you regret your date? Are you angry that it turned out so poorly? Or do you accept that it was a beautiful mess and spend the next few hours talking with your friends about the level of nonsense that you were just exposed and maybe also decide to write a review of it online?
In case you haven’t been picking up my subtle cues: I think this is not a good movie and also it is a terrible MCU film.
The Eternals came out during a period when I had forsworn watching movie trailers and spoilers, so I had no idea what I was in for. I knew there were a lot of people in it, and I was looking forward to seeing a new team of supers on the big screen, especially with the weight of the pandemic on us. My expectations may have been high, but that’s only because the MCU has been consistently producing excellent content for so long. Well, maybe inconsistently up to 2013 (when Thor: The Dark World came out) and then nailing it after that. That’s another review.
In my opinion, this move suffers for the same reason that Justice League suffered and that I thought that the MCU had figured out already: you can’t just jump directly into a superhero team up movie. It’s one of the big reasons why The Avengers worked. You didn’t have all the characters fighting for precious seconds of backstory. Everyone (eventually) got their own movie or show to flesh out their character.
There isn’t enough time in a single film to give more than a brief glance at the individual Eternals. There are ten of them! If each one got 3 minutes of back story, that would be 1/5th of the total run time! If that sounds like not enough time to really get to know the characters and what they’re doing, you’ll be excited to know that the actual amount of time we’re given to start caring about the characters is closer to 2 minutes.
One of the hallmarks of the MCU has been character growth. Steve Rogers/Captain America is a 90 pound weakling turned super soldier who does what he’s told and trusts leaders, who learns that blind trust has consequences and that he can’t always be responsible for everyone else. Tony Stark/Iron Man goes from being a self-centered playboy who uses others to get what he wants to the person willing to sacrifice himself to save everyone. Those journeys took many, many movies to explore and build. By the end of The Eternals all we are left with are questions. Like “Why did he do that?” and “why are they doing that?” and “why does everyone just act like that’s fine?”
I’m pretty sure that in the process of saving us from one baddie, The Eternals have actually doomed the entire world. Not humans. The planet. No spoilers, but maybe it says more about me that I’m willing to suspend my disbelief that there are superheroes flying around but not when it comes to how planets work.
The IMAX viewing option is worth watching on Disney+. I am happy to have had this movie paid for as part of my subscription instead of having to pay extra for it by itself.
Is it worth listening to?
Time was, you could buy the soundtrack for practically any movie that was released. Now, not so much. This is the latter situation.
I wasn’t able to find the soundtrack on any of the streaming services, which isn’t surprising as it seems that it’s not available for purchase. So I did the next best thing and made a playlist of all the available songs from the soundtrack. I then spent an additional 31 minutes of my life re-listening to the 9 tracks I was able to find.
First, it was nice to hear “Time” by Pink Floyd. It’s the first time that I’ve heard it in a film, and I look back fondly to the time when the movie started and I heard it and thought “Oh boy! This is going to be good!” I was so young, so naive, so full of wonder and hope last week.
Next up was “Sugarfoot” by Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, a group I had never heard of before. Until I added it to my playlist, I thought it was something from the 60’s or 70’s, so good on you Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears. It’s funky, has a good beat and tune.
“Stay In the Groove pt 1” by Rickey Calloway and The Dap-kings. Again, they are a more recent band with a sound from the 60’s and 70’s. It’s a little more soul music than “Sugarfoot”, and the drums and horns are excellent.
“Friends” by BTS marks the first time since “Gangnam Style” that I’ve listened to a KPop song all the way through. It’s got just enough English in it to make me think “Wait, was that last part English? No, that was Korean. No, maybe?”. They are a pretty big deal, and the last thing that I want is to be brigaded by BTS fans, so I’ll just say that I didn’t understand it but it sounded nice.
“Lend Me Your Comb” by Carl Perkins, is actually an old song from 1957. It is catchy in an old-timey way. It has tap dancing in it, so you know how you should be moving to it. There’s a bit of old time country/rock and roll here.
“Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard won the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 2002, almost 34 years after it was released, so you don’t need me to tell you that it probably is a good song. It’s got a message, but it’s not really my cup of tea.
“Feels like the First Time” by Foreigner is easy listening 70’s rock. It’s has staying power, but that may have caused it to lose some of the edge that it could have had in this soundtrack.
“Juice” by Lizzo is super catchy. I listened to the radio edit of the song because I had young ears in the room with me, and maybe it’s a little more than I thought it was going to be… but it was good. I had never heard of this song or her before, so that was a nice introduction.
“The End of the World” by Skeeter Davis came out in 1962, and has been used in TV, movie, and video game soundtracks. But I think this is the first time that I had ever listened to the entire thing in one go.
Overall, it’s a bit of a mix bag. The funk/soul sound doesn’t carry through the entire thing, and some of the songs just seem like they were just kind of thrown in. Looking at you “Time” and “Friends”.
The score is probably better.
Speaking of the score, I’d like to talk about “Nach Mera Hero” for a moment.
It’s the only original song on the soundtrack and I’m adding here at the end because I looked it up. The song is used in a pretty amusing scene in the movie and I wanted to get the lyrics. That’s when I discovered that it also got a lot of hate. That hate is unwarranted. Calm yourselves down people. “Nach Mera Hero” may not be the best song in the world, but yeesh, the movie itself is a B- (maybe a B on a really boring Sunday afternoon).
Yeah But What Else
Overall, my homemade playlist sound track was better than the movie. It’s also way shorter and can be consumed without getting angry.
I would would drop Pink Floyd, BTS and Foreigner and it’s a pretty respectable funk/soul mixtape. I made this playlist in Amazon Music, but I can’t quite figure out how to make that work with WordPress, so you can click this link to listen to it if you’d like.