Everything, Everywhere, All at Once Review: A visionary multiverse masterpiece

Directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, collectively known as Daniels, unleash a visionary masterpiece with their latest film Everything, Everywhere, All at Once that lives up to its name through its ambitious and deep story full of fulfilling emotional growth.

With the MCU and DCEU set to delve into their own multiverses with the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel and The Flash, respectively, it’s very possible that multiverse stories are going to become a bit of a film trend. After all, studios love trying to follow in the footsteps of financially successful trends, and it wouldn’t be too surprising to see a lot of copycat attempts down the line. Hopefully though, if that happens, Everything, Everywhere, All at Once gets the credit it deserves as the true trendsetter as its imaginative and engaging multiverse sets a high bar for others to follow.

As Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh), a struggling Chinese American laundromat owner, gets pulled into a plot to save the multiverse from a growing chaotic force by connecting with alternate versions of herself, Daniels greatly establishes the sense of curiosity about the multiverse that drives their creativity as well as their weird style of humor that’s kind of an evolution of what many saw and laughed at in their 2016 breakout feature debut Swiss Army Man. Even before Evelyn connects with any of her other selves, you already find yourself wondering what this multiverse could offer Evelyn as an alternate version of her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) showcases the power of the multiverse in mind-blowing and hilarious ways.

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Daniels crafts an incredibly entertaining and emotional experience with their latest film. PHOTO: Parade

For the most part, Waymond is a timid person who no one would expect to be in a fight, let alone win one, but as soon as he taps into a different version of himself, the best parts of the film’s multiverse premise flourish. There’s some amazingly choreographed action that offers some jaw-dropping blows and some hilarious strangeness that comes from the unique way people connect with other versions of themselves. The film’s form of universe traveling, called verse-jumping, tasks travelers with performing a weird task to tap into different versions of themselves. Sometimes they’ll have to tell someone random they genuinely love them and other times they’ll have to inflict some gnarly paper cuts on themselves, but it’s almost always hilarious to watch. It’s a perfect little caveat to traveling that adds some comical anticipation and is played around with excellently.

Weird tasks are just the tip of the iceberg for what Daniels achieves with their multiverse and what they accomplish makes Everything, Everywhere, All at Once the most creatively ambitious film in decades. Not only does Evelyn acquire some pretty awesome skills that make for some epic action sequences, but the places she goes can be both absolutely hilarious and visually mesmerizing. No expense was spared, and no idea goes unutilized by Daniels as it’s genuinely captivating to see where Evelyn’s travels take her. From accidently connecting to a version of herself with Hot Dog Fingers to using some sign spinning and chef skills to take down some enemies, Evelyn becomes quite a force to reckoned with. It’s even better when Daniels shows universes where Evelyn isn’t even human as it showcases the truly infinite possibilities that Evelyn can find, and things only become even more insane when Evelyn comes face to face with a foreboding chaotic force.

While traversing the multiverse sounds fun, the film does establish some interesting dangers and creative powers that come from its mysterious antagonist’s connection to the multiverse. There’s a great sequence that showcases how powerful this chaotic force is and how limitless their power is. It’s a strong evolution of Daniels vision for the multiverse and adds some hilarious, but seriously scary moments for this chaotic force that also come with some dark motivations that play excellently with the emotion and growth within Evelyn’s story.

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Evelyn’s (middle) journey is epically emotional and traverses some real pain to bring out some heartwarming growth. PHOTO: IMDB

Where most films like this would generally be labeled as style over substance, Everything, Everywhere, All at Once’s substance is stronger than its already strong style with how it weaves a deeply personal story within its multiverse hijinks. When we’re first introduced to Evelyn’s strained life, including her dissolving relationship with her husband Waymond and damaged relationships with her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) and father (James Hong), it immediately leaves an impact because of how engaging and real the pain in this family feels. Evelyn has gained a narrow vision of her life, Waymond wants their marriage to better but is on the verge of ending things, and Joy wants to feel accepted and loved by Evelyn. These characters and their respective struggles instantly strike an emotional chord with you making their distinct journeys in this multiverse story touching throughout.

Even for its wild and wacky antics, Everything, Everywhere, All at Once can have some darker shades to itself that touch on depression and hopelessness in ways that are more relevant than ever. It sees its characters hit lows that are truly gut-cutting and leaves you on the verge of tears at times because of how these performances and the excellent writing from Daniels latch onto your heart. Yeoh is undeniably incredible with the versatility she shows in playing multiple versions of Evelyn and the way she elevates the raw realizations Evelyn has about herself and life. Hsu also delivers a breakout performance in how she nails the tough emotional parts to Joy’s mindset and personally, Quan steals the show in the finale through his heartwarming performance that’ll leave you misty-eyed. In the end, Daniels crafts a personal story about being human that hits on a wide range of emotions and leaves stunned in how connective and real it is.

Everything, Everywhere, All at Once is a once in a lifetime experience that pushes the boundaries for what’s possible in storytelling and boasts some of the strongest performances and creativity, you’ll see this year. It’s equal parts hilariously entertaining and emotionally enriching and Daniels have truly established themselves as an ambitious force to watch out for.

5

Watch the Trailer Here:

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