Movie Reviews: Eternals, The Electric Life of Louis Wain

Comment from Jonathan W. Hickman


Exam score: 5/10

The MCU hits a low point with “Eternals,” a bizarre team-up adventure that teases a franchise whose future might be better suited to Disney’s streaming service.

Boasting a star-studded cast, “Eternals” follows an inconsistent collection of immortal beings who protect the planets from the destructive forces of the monstrous Deviants. After having driven the Deviants from our world, the Eternals are ordered to wait anonymously on Earth for future instructions. Thousands of years pass and the villainous creatures reappear. Naturally, the eternal gang of superhero types has to come together.

Starring a group of mostly unknown heroes, “Eternals” attempts to expand on their origin stories while delivering the typical action gist that comes to a shattering conclusion. And to be honest, it’s fun with the individual personalities. While the center of the narrative focuses on Gemma Chan’s Sersi, it’s Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo who steals the show.

Kingo is the best known of the Eternal Cold and Inhuman. We meet him in India, where he became a Bollywood star. His constant companion and best friend on every level is a human, the hopelessly devoted Karun (an unusual comedic performance by Harish Patel). As a comedic relief, this duo is welcome, but they also present themselves as the most authentic of the bunch.

Angelina Jolie is less successful, making her MCU debut as Thena. Because the character is emotionally disturbed, Athena continually loses herself in a violent trance. It’s a frustrating distraction as Athena tries to kill everyone around her, including her fellow Eternals. Perhaps a lighter, less dramatic approach made this character more appealing.

The failure of “Eternals” shouldn’t rest exclusively at the feet of Oscar-winning director Chloe Zhao (see last year’s transcendent “Nomadland”). The film possesses the qualities of the soft, filmic pastoral imagery that marks the director’s previous successes (see her incredible 2017 film “The Rider”). But because there is so much going on in this movie, it escalates into a hopelessly convoluted affair. And by the closing act, I found myself giving up on trying to keep track of the characters and their motivations.

“Eternals” is the Marvel / Disney machine’s first big misstep.

Louis Wain’s electric life

Exam score: 7/10

Benedict Cumberbatch plays 19th-century painter Louis Wain in this colorful and stylish biopic.

Wain is best known for his paintings of cats and kittens with big eyes.

A strange man with remarkable artistry, his life has been affected by the unfortunate illness and untimely loss of his beloved partner Emily (played by Claire Foy of “The Crown”). And, after that, by throwing himself into his work, he caused a sensation. But despite his significant talent, his career has been affected by schizophrenia.

A very skinny Cumberbatch is formidable as a modified Wain. The attractive and diverse cast includes Andrea Riseborough as Caroline, Wain’s sister. “The IT Crowd’s” Richard Ayoade also makes an appearance. And don’t adjust your TV; the film is presented in 4: 3 aspect ratio.

“The Electric Life of Louis Wain” is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

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