Apparently, a long time ago, Socrates said “Life without experience and suffering is not life.” And although Socrates is correct about this, it’s also the fact that we must put ourselves through pain to feel like we have truly lived a life. Many will see this during wartime, economic depressions, famines, and many more tragedies. But since I’m in a University campus full of entitled kids, the only suffering I can experience on campus is hearing laughter or any positive emotion when watching Marvel Studios’ “Eternals.”
The Eternals are a group of immortal super beings created by a Celestial named Arishem (voiced by David Kaye). They are led by Ajak (Salma Hayek), and their mission is to protect Earth and humans from the cliched alien creature called Deviants. In addition, these Eternals get to live out normal lives on Earth, as they also help to progress the technology and history of people since the birth of man (and deciding not to get involved during Infinity War/Endgame due to imbecilic screenwriters). Thousands of years later, the Deviants finally return and are stronger than ever. They are now able to heal themselves instantaneously and no longer attack humans other than the Eternals. After this attack, heroes Sersi (Gemma Chan) and Sprite (Lia McHugh) discover Ajak was killed by one of these Deviants, and Sersi is now made leader of the Eternals. As Sersi now can make contact with Arishem, she finds out that the purpose of fighting the Deviants is because humans are energy sources that form a brand new Celestial for the universe. Sersi doesn’t like the idea that humanity will be eliminated just so it can create another Celestial and continue this loop of destruction along its way. So Sersi goes around the world to find other members of the Eternals and try to come up with a way to delay the birth of the newest Celestial and save humanity.
I know that this summary seems long and cumbersome, but trust me when I say that is only a fraction of what happens in this film. The so-called writers of this film (Chloé Zhao, Patrick Burleigh, Ryan and Kaz Firpo) seemed to want their fantasy epic in the spirit of something like “Lord of the Rings,” including subplots like a romance between Sersi and Ikaris (Richard Madden), Athena’s (Angelina Jolie) mental health journey, Sprite being a old person in a little girl’s body, and more.
It also includes extremely extended flashbacks that crosscut with the main story, but the conflict in these flashbacks aren’t as thrilling as the main mission, which isn’t saying much. And when it’s not overly long flashbacks, we are forced into watching these easily-forgettable heroes muddle about in the present day. The writers really expected us to care about heroes that we just met and are only given short scenes to get to know. There are literally 10 characters in the Eternals, and none of them are prioritized over the end of the world story where *SPOILER ALERT* the world doesn’t end.
The cinematography in the film is also extremely bland, which, based on frames I’ve seen from “Nomadland” seems to be a stylistic choice from Zhao. But it still looks like all of the other MCU films that have shots that look like someone sneezed on the lens. With impressive and fun cinematography recently seen in “Suicide Squad” and “The Batman,” you’d expect the more financially dominant Marvel to implement this in their own films.
None of the performances are memorable in the slightest. Hayek and Jolie are the most experienced performers, but they did nothing special with their roles, except for talking slowly, as if that makes a scene more dramatic. Although Richard Madden and Gemma Chan did look like they could make their own romance movie together, this film doesn’t afford them enough chemistry for their romance to really stick out for any other reason other than the writers are shoving it down your throat. As for every other forgettable actor, they are only cameos in their own film and merely extras with more than two lines who only have small portions of the film to summarize their conflict and never refer to it in an interesting way again.
“Eternals” made me question why people continue to watch Marvel films. I understand college students have lots of work on their hands and need some form of entertainment to not go insane. But I feel that a good complex film could give you better brain stimulation that benefits rather than worsens you. Sometimes it takes lots of brain power to create something that pumps out less stress.