Review: “ETERNALS” (2021)

And so comes Marvel Studios’ “ETERNALS,” in which we discover the answer to one of the great pressing questions of our age: Can the (thus far) invincible winning combination of the most precision-engineered crowd-pleaser assembly line ever created (courtesy the late Mr. Disney), one the greatest caches of intellectual property of the late 20th Century (courtesy the later Misters Lee, Kirby, Simon, et al), a studio head (the very much alive Kevin Feige) capable of balancing the creative ambitions of emergent dynamic filmmaking talent with the demands of an evolving global mass-market audience and – yes – also just a ton of money to spend… but that’s also being dispensed from a machine that is both made of and expects to devour more of that same money still continue its unprecedented hat-trick victory streak: consistently winning with audiences, winning with critics and raking in fortunes at the box-office… even when the formula is applied to something like “The Eternals?”

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Review – “JUNGLE CRUISE” (text)

Little behind schedule today – here’s a text review for “JUNGLE CRUISE” with the video version set to go up later today 👍

JUNGLE CRUISE (2021)
Dir: Jaume Collette-Serra

If ever there was ever to be a plausible case of a movie trying to overwhelm a critic’s capacity to reason out whether any creative decision was intentionally bizarre or merely an egregious mistake RIGHT AWAY; a Disney movie where the studio card over Cinderella’s castle is scored to an instrumental cover of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” that immediately transitions to a prologue referencing “AGUIRRE: THE WRATH OF GOD” (as backstory for a mash-up of “THE MUMMY” and “THE AFRICAN QUEEN” starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) would qualify.

Ostensibly based on the original-lineup Disneyland boat ride and liberally peppered with nostalgic references to the attraction itself (AND specifically-highlighted plot-points about its now-retired less politically-correct design elements), this is another in the post-”FAST & FURIOUS” smile-til-it-hurts genre of post-post-POST-modern self-aware blockbusters where every actor, stunt, setpiece and line-reading constantly teeters on the knife’s edge of outright parody; everyone and everything nodding knowingly at the staginess of the action, familiarity of the formula story and layers of earnest corniness but only JUST so much that it doesn’t tumble over into outright “spoof” territory since… y’know, things have to play globally where not everyone is going to get culturally-specific references and comedy timed to wordplay or conventions doesn’t always translate well – or at all (in case you were wondering why that genre basically doesn’t EXIST theatrically anymore…) so it makes sense to take it in that route especially when the demands of both the plot and the “brand” demand that you make an action movie where the characters have to stay on a boat being carried down a fixed course from point A to point B: If there’s no way to avoid looking bizarrely artificial, you might as well call attention to it.

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