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Review: 'Eternals' takes itself too seriously to be one of Marvel's best

The newest batch of Marvel superheroes is now in theaters, and "Eternals" are hoping to be your new favorite group of supers. (Marvel Studios)



Estimated read time: 6-7 minutes

OLYMPIA — The newest batch of Marvel superheroes is now in theaters, and "Eternals" are hoping to be your new favorite group of supers. Personally, I'm still waiting for the "Guardians of the Galaxy" to come back.

"Eternals" has its moments but, overall, it fell short for me. I think it may be one of Marvel's weaker outings.

Here are some things that worked in "Eternals" and some that didn't:

What works

It has a strong cast

The true lead in "Eternals" is Gemma Chan, but it's really an ensemble piece. In fact, I'd have to say the actors are the best part of the film. Chan carries the movie well, and Kumail Nanjiani brings some much-needed comedy relief. Brian Tyree Henry is another bright spot. And even though it's a small part, I was engaged in the few scenes Kit Harrington appears in.

The movie is also filled with relationships, but my favorite is the one between Angelina Jolie's character and Ma Dong-seok's. There is something tangible there, and it's one of the few emotional connections I made during the more than 2.5-hour run time.

I guess that's not true, the relationship between Nanjiani's Kingo and Harish Patel's Karun is a lot of fun as well.

Still, are some good actors in the film who I think missed the mark. Barry Keoghan's character felt off for me, and Salma Hayek's performance felt like she was just going through the motions.

A few good actions scenes

Like any Marvel movie, "Eternals" has some strong action scenes. One in the Amazon jungle and the finale come to mind as some of the strongest. The Amazon particularly brings some claustrophobic tension that makes for a fun supers vs. monsters battle, and director Chloe Zhao proved she knows how to construct a great action sequence.

At the end of the day, we usually head to Marvel movies to enjoy some jokes and great action. There are a few jokes to enjoy and a handful of action sequences to get behind.

What didn't work

It doesn't flow well

There is a reason we don't like traffic. The stop and go is exhausting. Just when you think you're getting somewhere, you hit another jam and have to stop yet again. It takes forever to travel just a few feet, and it's other-worldly aggravating. "Eternals" often felt like stop-and-go traffic.

The pacing jumped all over the place. It often felt like it took a long time to get to another action scene or revelation to move the story forward. I'd feel like we had finally hit our stride and started rolling, but then the pacing would slow and all momentum gained at that moment was lost. Then we had to wait until we could finally get another shot in the arm.

In defense of the film, it tries to tell a story that literally spans thousands of years — but that was also part of its problem. There are 10 Eternals who have been on Earth for 7,000 years and we are trying to tell what each has been up to over that span, and we're sometimes telling that story individually. It makes for a great deal of exposition and not a lot of actual story and superhero shenanigans, which is why we typically head to the theater for a Marvel movie.

I'm not sure I'd say I ever got bored in the movie, but I did get impatient at times waiting to jump ahead and actually get somewhere.

We've seen this before, many times before

Marvel has a formula and that's OK. They have figured out how to entertain audiences and make an absolute fortune while doing it, and I cannot blame them for that. But for my money, the best Marvel movies have been those that have dared to break that mold, even if it's just a little. Movies like "Thor: Ragnarok" and the aforementioned "Guardians of the Galaxy" more or less stuck to the formula but took a few liberties here and there, which made them unique. I felt like "Eternals" couldn't quite make that happen.

The stakes are high as always, the world is going to end. There is a force that seems too strong to overcome, but our heroes look inside themselves to find the strength they need and we get ups and downs along the way. But many of the characters are one-dimensional and surprisingly boring for having been around for 7,000 years. It felt like there was an opportunity here to make some new and fresh, but we instead got a film that you could almost throw another title on and we wouldn't know any different.

It takes itself too seriously

This is probably my biggest complaint about Marvel movies. Some of them take themselves way too seriously. The first "Captain America" fell victim to this, as did the first two "Thor" films. This is a universe where Norse gods, super soldiers, gamma ray-infused scientists and radioactive spider-bitten teenagers fight aliens and save the world. We can't take ourselves too seriously here.

I felt like Marvel had learned this lesson, corrected course and has been — for the most part — avoiding the pitfall. But we're right back at it with "Eternals."

This is a movie about cosmic beings coming to Earth to fight big ugly monsters who like to eat people and we're acting as if it's the most dramatic, prestigious film of the year. It's not, so let's not pretend like it is.

A Marvel movie should be a lot more fun than "Eternals" is.

What parents should know

Overall, "Eternals" is your typical Marvel movie by way of content. Occasional language and plenty of violence and mayhem. One thing "Eternals" has that is new to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a love scene. There has been kissing and the suggestion of characters having sex in Marvel movies of the past, but this is the first love scene I can recall.

It's not overly graphic, but it is a lot more than what most would expect from a Marvel film.

Conclusion

"Eternals" will entertain enough. It is a Marvel movie, after all, and it has its moments. But overall, it's a letdown considering how far we have come with these films. There is not enough fun or interest with everything going on. Nanjiani adds almost all of the fun, which is a testament to his comedic timing and ability to pull off the physicality, but it's not enough for this long movie.

"Eternals" is PG-13 for fantasy violence and action, some language and brief sexuality.

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John Clyde

About the Author: John Clyde

John has grown up around movies and annoys friends and family with his movie facts and knowledge. He also has a passion for sports and pretty much anything awesome, and it just so happens, that these are the three things he writes about. To contact John, and read more of his articles, visit his KSL.com author page.

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