For anyone following my reviews, you’ve most likely read my thoughts on Eternals this past November. To summarize, overall, I think this is a perfectly lovely, and bold film that challenges the traditional convention for the Marvel Cinematic Universe template, taking more from Alan Moore’s Watchmen than Avengers. I realize it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s fine. But for me, Chloé Zhao brought something incredibly unique into this 27-film franchise that I find severely underrated and quite special in its own right.
As such, I was brimming with anticipation to dive further into her world and the process of crafting the film, hoping that we’d get more on the home entertainment release. And I’m pleased to say, those expectations were met in many ways, but somewhat disappointed in others. This is a review of the special features you’ll find when you bring Eternals home on Digital now and on 4K, Blu-ray, and DVD February 15.
Chloé’s Vision for Eternals
The first featurette I dove into was a short intro piece with testimonials from the cast praising Zhao’s approach to the material. There are short one-sentence pieces from all of the primary Eternals cast except Gemma Chan, Don Lee, Lia McHugh, and Kit Harrington. It’s not incredibly deep, and is pretty much folks speaking to things we already knew about how good Zhao is with character work, relationship building, and action. It’s not particularly substantial, but if you end up watching it, you only lose a minute of your time. And much of this is spliced into the 10-minute featurette called “Immortalized.”
A 10-minute look into the origins of how Jack Kirby’s 1976 The Eternals comic book series inspired the making of this film, and why The Eternals were chosen as characters to explore in the MCU post-Endgame. There’s discussions from the film’s screenwriters, Ryan and Kaz Firpo, about how they took elements from the Kirby run, along with Neil Gaiman’s 2008 Eternals series and worked with producers Kevin Feige and Nate Moore to fashion those elements into a more modern retelling of the story, not reliant on other aspects of the MCU to be told. It also dives into Zhao’s desires to explore ambitious themes and angles through the project, such as the desire to celebrate Earth and humanity with this film. It also goes into a lot of the behind the scenes aspects of the film, such as the look and feel of the sets and the designs of the costumes, from the use of cuneiform on the carvings of the set, to the “second-skin” nature of the costumes.
It’s a pretty fun featurette, and could be insightful for folks left with lingering questions about why Marvel Studios went with Eternals over the thousands of other properties they could bring to life. I think if the themes of the movie, which were some of the film’s biggest strengths, went over audiences’ heads, this is a chance for the filmmaker to clarify the rationale behind her vision, and why it was important to tell this story. Folks that got these intentions on their original viewings of the film might be more interested in the technical aspects of the craftsmanship behind the making of the movie.
Overall it’s fairly entertaining, if nothing more than a quick walkthrough of the why’s and how’s of the movie.
Walks of Life
This is a featurette diving into the necessity of diversity to tell this story. The idea that the Eternals have to blend in with humanity, and how humanity is comprised of so many people from different walks of life, is the primary reason the film represents the most diverse cast in the MCU. It’s nice to hear from the cast and how they celebrate the diversity, but I need to be honest and say that it feels a little pandering and self-congratulatory.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s nice that there is such diversity within this movie, and that’s something that should be celebrated. It just seems a bit disingenuous when the praise is coming from folks involved in the film itself. Do Zhao, casting director Sarah Finn, and Nate Moore deserve credit and praise for assembling a brilliant ensemble of folks representing so many out there who normally don’t get to see themselves in blockbuster genre films? Of course they do. But did we need to make a feature where everyone pats themselves on the back for it? I think it’s a bit gratuitous and fairly on the nose.
While I realize diversity is not a concept that needs to be explained, I think the feature would have been better served if it was a deeper look at how specific casting decisions were made in the context of the original mythology of the Eternals, rather than a “look how woke we are” boast fest. Cool your jets, guys! You didn’t single-handedly fix racism and bias by hiring Gemma Chan as your lead. You did good, but there’s still so much more Hollywood needs to do to fix representation issues. Don’t pop the champagne for yourselves just yet.
It’s two minutes of a pretty cast dancing, eating Twinkies, and dropping bleeped F-bombs. It’s totally worth every second!
Gravity — A sweet scene with Phastos and his son, Jack talking about planets and gravity. It shows Phastos getting the idea of using the sphere inside Sersi to create the Uni-Mind. It’s not really necessary, but it’s short and cute. I was fine with them cutting it overall though.
Nostalgia — It’s a short discussion between Sprite and Makkari. This one I felt they could have kept. The thing that disappointed me was that the biggest argument for why Earth and humanity needs to be saved in the MCU are The Avengers. And while Ajak barely touches on it, no one else brings it up the rest of the film. This scene does. Plus it’s nice to get more time with Lia McHugh and Lauren Riddloff, and gives Makkari a smidge more depth, answering why she’s such a hoarder (it’s a good reason).
Movies — Super unnecessary scene of Kingo and Gilgamesh talking about movies. Glad it was cut.
Small Talk — Also glad they cut this one. As much as I like McHugh’s portrayal of Sprite, this scene makes her more unpleasant. And we didn’t need an answer for why Sprite tells Dane Eternals secrets when all that’s brought up in a quick conversation with Sersi later.
Verdict: If you’re going to buy the film on Digital, or 4K/Blu-Ray, do so for the collectability of it, or for your love of the film itself. I think that’s a perfect selling point in and of itself. Apart from the interesting, but short “Immortalized” feature, there’s not really too many extras for you to get lost in. It’s a surprisingly scant release, with not a lot to offer. Just pop it on, enjoy the film, and you’re good after that.
Movie Score: B+
Bonus Features: C-