Bloated, meandering Eternals a major misfire
The first genuinely bad film from Marvel Films, Chloe Zhao's Eternals is a colossal bore, a bloated, meandering super-hero odyssey that's intended to serve as the foundation for the studio's next extended epic. Based on the Jack Kirby comic book, the title characters are 10 god-like creatures charged with protecting the cosmos from the Deviants, sinewy, dragon-like creatures that look like they escaped from a rudimentary programmer's laptop. Their quest takes them to Earth, a place they fall in love with and vow to protect, despite the objections of their creators, the Celestials.
With 10 characters on the board – the film is a quest to get the band back together for one final mission– there are far too many players to keep track of, let alone care about. A potentially intriguing twist is introduced when our heroes find they might not be so heroic after all, but this is squandered amidst overwrought action sequences, trite dialogue and a quest that feels like a retread. At the end of the film when it's promised the Eternals will return, it comes off as more a threat than something to anticipate. In theaters.
Charming Finch another Hanks' showcase
Miguel Sapochnik's Finch may not be one of the best films of the year, but it's certainly one of my favorites. Set in an apocalyptic future in which global warming has resulted in major cities being overrun with sand and temperatures in the 150s, the movie contains a message of hope that's neither forced nor trite, primarily because it's grounded in doubt and trepidation. Tom Hanks takes on the titular role, a scientist with the smarts to adapt to these inhumane conditions and ekes out a living by scrounging for supplies that he takes back to his book-laden bunker he shares with his dog.
Problem is, he knows he's dying so he creates a robot, Jeff, to take care of his four-legged friend when he's gone. The crash course in how to mind a pet, survive the elements and look at the world through human eyes makes up the bulk of this charming film as Finch tries to impart all he knows – and a bit of feeling- to his well-meaning mechanical friend. The film overstays its welcome but you won't mind – the charm it exudes as Jeff learns what it is to be human makes you want to hang around to the end. Streaming on Apple TV.
Fall nothing but style over substance
Just because you've seen a lot of westerns doesn't mean you know you can make a western. Case in point – Jeymes Samuel's The Harder They Fall, a vacuous oater that resembles a perfume ad more than a feature film. Sporting an extensive directorial resume – one music video and a 51-minute feature – the filmmaker certainly knows how to compose a great looking shot with well-clad, beautiful performers. It's the storytelling aspect of filmmaking he hasn't quite got a handle on.
Jonathan Majors is Nat Love, a man who saw his parents gunned down before him while a child by Rufus Buck (Idris Elba), who's rotting away in prison. However, news comes that he's being paroled and our hero decides now's the time to exact some revenge. A rag-tag group accompanies him to the town that Buck, with the help of his minions, takes over and a great deal of gunplay ensues. It all looks great, but this is an empty exercise in style over substance. Yes, everyone knows how to strike the right pose, but it's all done in the service of a bland, hackneyed script. Streaming on Netflix.