First reactions to Chloe Zhao’s ‘Eternals’ praise Oscar winner’s unexpected Marvel take

Chloe Zhao is the first Oscar-winning director to enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe and judging by the early reactions to “Eternals,” her vision has not been sanded down by corporate interests.

“Take out one or two passing references and you wouldn’t even know that ‘Eternals’ is a Marvel movie. This is a good thing,” IndieWire executive editor Eric Kohn wrote on Twitter.

“‘Eternals’: In style & tone this is easily the least Marvel-like movie in the MCU (it doesn’t look like plastic. also, sex happens) & the scale is cosmic in a way that makes the avengers arc feel like a blip,” Indiewire critic David Ehrlich wrote on Twitter, before slagging the finished product: “So why is it still just misfit spandex people fighting bad CG for 3 hours?”

“Chloé Zhao takes a swing with ‘Eternals.’ Doesn’t all work, but the ‘let’s get out of the Atlanta soundstage and shoot on a beach’ approach paid off for me. Spike Jonze’s ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ came to mind,” wrote Polygon editor Matt Patches.

Long in the making, “Eternals” focuses on a group of ancient celestial beings and features an all-star cast including Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Gemma Chan, Kumail Nanjiani, Richard Madden, Kit Harington, and Brian Tyree Henry among many others. Zhao started work on the film before winning her Best Director Oscar this year for “Nomadland.”

“I think Marvel Studios has always worked with filmmakers [who have] very distinct voices, and that’s why the films are different,” Zhao told Fandango about the film. “But I think for this specific movie, what drew me to this movie and why they hired me, I think, is that the visual experience for this film must feel immersive enough for the audience to believe that these superhero characters have walked the earth for 7,000 years. So, to do that, there’s what I like to call an anthropological way of capturing things. The cameras are very grounded, and the movements are very natural. Shots are longer — we use wide-angle lenses, and deep focus. … it’s about giving the audience the space and the time to be able to explore what’s within the frame, and therefore come to their own conclusion of the relationship between the characters and the space they’re in.”

“Eternals” is out in theaters on November 5 and the film’s official review embargo will break later this month. For now, check out Twitter reactions from the “Eternals” premiere and early press screenings.

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