At its heart, Marvel’s Eternals is a big candy-colored monster movie. It plays like a mashup of The Blues Brothers and A Quiet Place. A group of celestial super beings must get the band back together to save Earth, fighting sharp-toothed creatures all along the way. Some Marvel fans have painted this latest MCU adventure as a snooze fest, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Despite being helmed by a prestige Oscar-winning director in Chloé Zhao, this is the kind of amusement park ride Martin Scorsese often rails against. There are a few dips and lulls, but it’s mostly packed with spine-punching action, wall-to-wall fight scenes, and several well-timed jump scares. Which all make it the perfect movie for the immersive 4DX experience.
Eternals is also presented in 3D. If you are not paying for that deluxe 3D / 4DX combo ticket, you may as well stay home and wait for the Disney+ premiere. Eternals is a true rollercoaster when packaged with all the bells and whistles 4DX has to offer. Cinematographer Ben Davis captures jaw-dropping vistas and breathtaking cosmic panoramas that demand to be seen in the most immersive format possible. This is, perhaps, one of the best 3D movies Marvel has ever released. And there are enough buckle-up moments to also make it one of their best 4DX releases to date.
The Eternals 4DX experience drops you into the middle of earthquakes, lets you feel the buzz of space travel, and splashes you in the face with enough monster spit to make the ticket price worthwhile. Richard Madden’s Ikaris is constantly getting thwacked in the back, with bolts of energy, heavy objects, or good old fashion fast fists, and you feel each violent stroke against your spine, as if you are being kicked, stabbed and electrocuted in his place.
Eternals has come under fire for presenting more adult themes in the MCU. There is a naked sex scene and perhaps the first-ever 4DX gay kiss presented in 3D, so it’s definitely breaking barriers. It is a more cerebral and personal story, with director Chloé Zhao taking this hulking Disney franchise in several new directions. She really shakes the pillars of heaven with her Greek-themed mythology. Perhaps the weight becomes a bit unbearable, with its hefty runtime becoming a bit too much. The movie clocks in at two hours and thirsty-seven minutes, arriving as the second longest MCU movie behind Avengers: Endgame. Sold as a 5-part Disney+ TV series, it works. Streaming at home, you can take breaks. Buying the 4DX ticket means you are literally strapped into a carnival ride chair for the duration, and there is no escape to recover for a few minutes (unless you want to wuss out and take a pee break).
Despite more serious themes, and some extended downtime, your seat literally never stops moving. Consider that you will be bucked, prodded and whipped into a frenzy for at least a solid two hours and fifteen minutes of that thick runtime. While Chloé Zhao might be making something a little more substantial than your average superhero flick, it is pure comic book fodder from beginning to end. And it feels like Marvel through its very core.
Eternals has an epic finale that puts 4DX into overdrive. Pummeling you into oblivion. It’s hard to imagine watching Eternals any other way. If you skip the ticket and watch it on a flat 2D screen, you’ll really be missing the grandiose nature of the Celestial Arishem as he engulfs the screen. The climatic “Emergence” is a theme park ride contained within itself, with some jaw-dropping 3D elements that go beyond anything yet presented in the format through Marvel Studios. Other things you’ll miss in a traditional theater are Makkari’s super-speed appearing as bursts of pressurized air that shoot across your face every time Lauren Ridloff takes off running like a rocket. And the fact that the Deviants have the sweetest berry-scented breath, as they bark their drool into your unexacting nostrils. If you don’t like being hit with monster spit, there is a button that allows you to turn off the water (but seriously, don’t do that you killjoy).
John Wick 3 is held as the gold standard in 4DX presentations. Godzilla: King of the Monsters comes a close second. With Eternals, Marvel has really perfected and utilized the hugely immersive format to their benefit. It’s cliche to say you must see any particular movie in a theater. But to feel the extreme pulp nature of this particular ride, the 4DX / 3D combo ticket really is the only way to go. If you’re seeing Eternals on a 2D screen, perhaps you should just save your money and wait for the Disney+ streaming premiere.