Hollywood often has a tendency to release similarly themed films at the same time. Think impending doom from space in Deep Impact (1998) and Armageddon (1998), or the rather niche genre of the White House under attack in Olympus Has Fallen (2013) and White House Down (2013).
2022 is proving to be the ‘Year of the Multiverse’ with the recent release of Marvel’s Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness proving to be quite the mind-bending trip but ultimately failing to live up to the infinite and untapped potential of said multiverse. Now, after a long wait for a UK release, we have the Indie take on parallel dimensions with Everything Everywhere All At Once, the latest film from Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert – or as they’re collectively known, “Daniels”.
This latest A24 release tells the story of Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh), a Chinese-American woman who lives a life full of regret for the paths she didn’t take. She now owns a struggling laundromat with her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) and has a tense relationship with their daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) not wanting to admit her daughter’s gay relationship to their old-fashioned Grandfather Gong Gong (James Hong). This all leads to a crisis at the tax office when she is confronted by angry tax officer Deirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis) and an alternate version of her husband who claims Evelyn is the key to saving all of reality.
What ensues is a very imaginative but utterly random at times, journey through the multiverse. While Everything Everywhere All At Once isn’t bogged down by cameos and a messy script like the Dr Strange sequel was, it still fails to live up to the incredible potential of having infinite possibilities at your disposal. With such hype surrounding the film, I wanted to love it, but sadly I found myself begging for it to end halfway through.
The film starts very promisingly with a great introductory sequence to the family and their daily struggles and relationships, and carries this momentum for most of the first act. Both Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan are fantastic here, really showing their range in what must’ve been great fun to shoot. Ke Huy Quan however deserves special praise due to the fact that the guy has barely been acting since the 80s and he really does deliver on a number of levels, especially in a brilliantly choreographed fight involving a fanny pack!
The film is extremely creative when it comes to its action scenes and general multiverse craziness, with some really unique cinematography and interesting fight choreography which all help to create an incredibly brisk pace to the first act.
However, the film starts to lose momentum in the second act when villains are revealed and plot exposition becomes increasingly more obvious and the randomness of the plot makes it increasingly hard to stay invested. A lot of the humour didn’t really land for me either, with a lot of it feeling very random = funny, almost like a 2000s YouTube video.
Final thoughts on Everything Everywhere All at Once
Ultimately I think this film was overhyped for me and just didn’t live up to the sky high expectations many had attached to it. While there are moments of brilliance with two great performances, creative cinematography and action and a really strong beginning that unfortunately loses its momentum by the second and third act. So while 2022 might be the ‘Year of the Multiverse’, both movies have failed to truly tap in to its boundless potential for interesting and engaging stories.