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Everything Everywhere All at Once | movie review

It really does live up to that title.


Movie summary: An aging Chinese immigrant is swept up in an insane adventure, where she alone can save the world by exploring other universes connecting with the lives she could have led. (IMDb)

Exactly how highly I rate Everything Everywhere All at Once is almost as difficult as trying to discuss the plot of the movie to someone who hasn't seen it yet. It's an absolutely brilliant movie that is easily the best I've seen so far this year - and by some distance too (sorry The Batman) - but I don't think I'd go quite as over the top as some people who already seem to be declaring it one of the greatest movies of the twenty-first century.

Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly going to watch it again - if not at the cinema, then at home - but it'll be interesting to see what the experience is like when you know what's going to happen, removing the frankly insane surprise factor this movie has when seeing it for the first time. It shouldn't affect the emotional core of the movie, involving some great work from Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn and Stephanie Hsu as her daughter, Joy.

I wish I could go into further details about why that relationship is so important to EEAaO (can't keep typing that title out!), as it would spoil a lot of the story. It's not the only important relationship though, with Ke Huy Quan as Evelyn's husband, Waymond, and James Hong as her father, Gong Gong, also proving absolutely vital. Yes, this movie is multigenerational as well as multiversal.

And on the subject of the multiverse, I simply can't understand why in the hell people are comparing this movie to the Doctor Strange sequel, when they share little more than the concept of a multiverse existing, and how they use said concept is completely different from each other. It'd be like comparing Le Mans '66 to Chariots of Fire because they're both about competitive racing and sharing little else other than that idea.

Back to EEAaO and its cast, with Michelle Yeoh standing out so much it's ridiculous. I've always liked her in everything I've ever seen her in, whether playing someone heroic, antagonistic, or both and more at the same time, and I'd be comfortable saying that this is my favourite performance (technically performances) of hers and I genuinely hope she is rewarded for the masterclass she puts on here.

It's truly incredible to watch just how much her character(s) change over the course of the story and yet keeps you completely invested in her experience and her emotions despite the bizarre wackiness going on around her. I teared up three or four times and every single time it was due to Yeoh's reactions to what she was going through or realisations of how it was affecting her.

It's not all serious though, with lots of moments that got the audience laughing at the showing I went to - including the diversion to a universe where humans have hot dogs for fingers, as seen in the image up top - but a lot of that humour does serve a purpose, especially as it's more a case of laughing at just how ridiculous things get, or the entire sane 'WTF' reactions characters have to the insanity going on around them.

There's plenty of action too, which is almost entirely brilliant apart from a couple of sequences where the footage looks like it's been sped up to match the other action scenes. It's a minor, minor gripe, but even such a small flaw stands out considering the excellence of the rest of the movie, where the action is usually very fast, very creative and often very funny too - especially one sequence involving butt plugs as power-ups...

If there's one other flaw with EEAaO, it's that there is quite a lot of exposition at the start of the movie, which you can forgive to a certain extent considering the out-there plot it has to set up. It makes sense, because Evelyn needs to have the rules of the multiverse explained to her, so it's not as if the movie is spelling things out for the audience that the characters already know, but it's just not quite as slick as the rest of the writing.

The fact that the only quibbles I have with Everything Everywhere All at Once are a couple of fight scenes and a small portion of the dialogue being not quite as incredible as the rest of the movie should serve as enough evidence on its own as to how damn good this movie is, and I'm already looking forward to seeing it again. It's impressive that a movie can by hyped up to frankly idiotic levels and yet still almost match that hype.

Everything Everywhere All at Once is an incredible movie that is like nothing else out there, so you're at least guaranteed to see something new - an increasingly-rare occurrence with movies these days. Michelle Yeoh is flat-out brilliant and better receive some awards for her performance(s), more than ably assisted by the also-excellent Ke Huy Quan, James Hong and Stephanie Hsu. The best movie of 2022 so far - go see it!

[10/10 - Phenomenal]



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