The new Marvel movie “Eternals,” directed by Chloé Zhao and released on Nov. 5, 2021, follows 10 super-powered individuals who don’t age or die. The movie has unique concepts, but the writing falls short.
The Eternals have been sent to Earth since the dawn of man to protect humanity from the Deviants, which are monstrous, failed prototypes of the Eternals.
The Eternals travel through the ages, taking on the roles and acting as gods throughout the ages of man until the present when they have separated across the four corners of the globe, waiting for the next threat.
Covering the dawn of man to the 21st century, the run time for “Eternals” is 2 hours and 37 minutes, which is not enough time to juggle the multiple questions “Eternals” poses.
The movie wants the audience to question an ancient cycle of life, the morality of humankind, a society given freedom versus a society in mindless obedience, teamwork, singularity and the duty of the Eternals.
All sound like interesting concepts to dive into by themselves, however, the movie tries to force them down the viewer’s throat in its limited time, which causes each idea to feel unexplored and a waste of time.
For example, Druig, an Eternal with the power to control the minds of humanity, takes over a village.
He protects and leads that village to the best of his capabilities to fulfill his vision of a perfect civilization, but at the cost of their freedom.
The question the scene wants the audience to think about is if security or freedom is more beneficial to humanity.
The movie handles the question by completely ignoring it for the rest of the film, making it feel like an unnecessary waste of time.
The Eternals realize that the celestial, Arishem, only created them to protect intelligent life, so a new celestial could form by feeding on all life, which is where the movie shows its most prominent success and its most significant hurdle.
“Eternals” best quality is its diverse cast, but because it focuses on 10 characters it produces half-baked stories, such as the story of Phastos.
Phastos is an Eternal who was only introduced in the final act, condensing his story and character into a one-two singular exposition dump.
Phastos invented technology to help the generations of man advance their civilization, but loses faith in mankind after seeing the destructive ways they’ve used them.
The movie doesn’t explain how or when the technology was used, so the viewers are left to assume it was a horrific loss of life, such as a war.
In the 21st century, Phastos is living with his husband, Ben, and son, Jack. How did Phastos restore his faith in humanity? How was his assimilation into human civilization? The film doesn’t have the time to answer the necessary questions to fully flesh out his character, making him feel like a boring addition to the team.
The Eternals themselves all have boring and unoriginal powers: Flight, super strength, laser vision, super speed, energy projection, transmutation, mind control, illusion casting and regeneration.
But their powers ironically match the simplicity of the characters. The actors convey almost no emotion, and their characters seem one–dimensional and depthless.
Even the main character, Sersi, isn’t given much room to grow. She starts and ends as a responsible and dutiful protector with the personality of a doormat.
Although she does face emotional and physical hurdles, she maintains a blank face throughout the film, diminishing the immersion of the movie and the weight of the scenes she is in. The others aren’t much different except for their abilities.
The only exception is the Eternal Kingo, played by Kumail Nanjiani, who thrived in human civilization by pretending to be his own son every generation, creating a Bollywood dynasty.
His character serves as the comedic relief, which is sometimes a hindrance.
Furthermore, during life-threatening battles against the Deviants, Kingo’s primary focus is on action poses rather than winning the battles, which undercuts the danger the movie is trying to portray the Deviants as.
“Eternals” tries to introduce another moral dilemma: Saving humanity or protecting an ancient cycle of life, but it’s barely mentioned by the characters except for a few brief seconds from time to time.
Kingo is unable to decide whether to side with the humans or the ancient cycle of life, which doesn’t follow his character at all. He’s the only Eternal who seems the most human and he became a celebrated Bollywood star with several adoring fans. His inability to side with humanity is a plot hole that the movie is unable to answer.
The movie also touches on the fact that the Deviants were prototypes of the Eternals but never actually continues the storyline.
“Eternals” is the perfect example of the saying, “There are no bad ideas. Only bad executions.”
The movie has profound ideas and poses thought-provoking questions, but “Eternals” is a directionless mess of wasted potential and bad writing.