November 9, 2021 – Unlike most Marvel origin movies, where there is a single superhero (Iron Man, Spider-Man, etc.) or a small group (The Fantastic Four) to introduce, this film has to do the heavy lifting of introducing its audience to about a dozen characters, telling their back stories Later they confront monsters, and each other, as well as dealing with an earth-shattering crisis, all in the same movie.
This is a heavy lift, and it all makes for a very busy, complex story structure. That said, writer-director Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) does a good job juggling all these elements to make an understandable 2.5 hour movie that covers all the bases. Other writers for this movie include Patrick Burleigh, Ryan Firpo, Kaz Firpo, and the late Jack Kirby, who was the original creator of these characters for Marvel Comics in 1976.
There are 10 Eternals (powerful aliens sent on a mission to earth by even more powerful aliens) Ajak (played by Salma Hayek) Thena (played by Angelina Jolie) Sersi (played by Gemma Chan) Ikaris (Richard Madden) Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) Sprite (Lia McHugh) Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) Druig (Barry Keoghan) and Gilgamesh (Ma Dong-seok). There are also a couple of mere mortals in the story, Kingo's Bollywood assistant Karun (Harish Patel) and Sersi's boyfriend with his own complicated past, Dane Whitman (Kit Harington).
Through a series of flashbacks in the movie, we learn of the long history, dating back 5,000 years on earth, of the Eternals, and their back stories, including their romantic relationships with each other, and with humans. Their real purpose of their mission to earth is known only to two of them. The rest of the Eternals think their purpose is to help mankind and protect them from monsters called Deviants.
It turns out that the mission of the Eternals is on a far bigger scale, with far bigger stakes than most of them thought. When the Eternals find out what their real mission is, some of them decide to rebel against their alien overlords, called Celestials. Ikaris, and a few others decide to stick with the original plan, setting up a conflict which results in the death of several Eternals and the imprisonment of others.
Action scenes include battles by Eternals against Deviants, and battles of Eternals against other Eternals. Each of the Eternals has a superpower or two. Ikaris can fly and has a kind of laser vision weapon. Sprite can create illusions, Druig can control the minds of others and Sersi can transform matter, such as stone, into different kinds of matter, including water.
The story builds to an epic climax, followed by the consequences of rebellion and conflict. Post-credits scenes hint at a future Eternals story, and the arrival of another character in the future, The Black Knight. Rooted loosely in Greek mythology, the story makes little sense — none at all from a scientific standpoint. It is all fantasy. There are some problems with character motivations as well.
I was not familiar with the Eternals prior to seeing this movie. I suspect that those who had prior knowledge of the Eternals and other characters have some advantages over me when it comes to understanding the backstories. I followed the main story all right, but I got the feeling there may be some relevant details that got left out. This film rates a C+.
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