As of writing this review, it has been over a week since I saw Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s, a.k.a the Daniels, latest film Everything Everywhere All At Once. It has taken me a while to write this review because it is hard to put in the words what the Daniels have created. Everything Everywhere All At Once is one of the most original and awe-inspiring movies I’ve seen in years. It is full of life, passion, and love and it is a movie I have yet to stop thinking about.
We live in a world dominated by big-budget blockbusters and cinematic universes. Marvel, DC, Star Wars, and other IP properties are all that seems to be what drives people to the cineplex now, especially in a post-COVID world. I’m sure there are plenty of reasons for this. The familiarity of the characters, the VFX-heavy action sequences, and the cinematic universes that these properties have established are probably some of the reasons, I imagine, why these movies are so popular, among others.
There is nothing wrong with liking these movies or being fans of them. But on the flip side of this, there are those who are sick of these movies and just want something original. There are always people out there that complain that there is no original cinema nowadays and that everything is a remake, a reboot, or a sequel. This group of people doesn’t pay enough attention to modern cinema, as every year boasts numerous original films. But I also see their point. The cinematic world does feel overrun with sequels, remakes, and reboots, the majority of which end up not working.
What’s incredible about a film like Everything Everywhere All at Once is that people who love these action spectacles and people who love original films will find something to love in it. The film, which looks at an aging Chinese immigrant (Michelle Yeoh) who gets swept up in an insane adventure, where she alone has to save the world by exploring other universes connecting with the lives she could have led, is one of the most original movies I have seen in years. The Daniels have crammed every genre possible into this movie and blended it all beautifully. It’s a family drama, an action-adventure, a time travel and multiverse movie, a kung-fu movie, a comedy, a sci-fi movie, and a love story. It features some of the weirdest things I have seen on film in the last couple of years, which should come as no surprise seeing as the Daniels’s last film, Swiss Army Man, featured actor Paul Dano befriending Daniel Radcliff, who plays a corpse who endlessly farts. Moments, like where characters have hot dogs for fingers or characters become rocks, are just the tip of the iceberg of the insanity that unfolds throughout the film.
It takes a bit for Everything Everywhere All at Once to click into the direction that it is going. The Daniels throw everything at us at such a rapid pace in the beginning that it all might seem overwhelming and hard to follow initially. But once you settle in, you are in for one of the wildest and most unique rides you will have at the movies. The action sequences are exhilarating and beautifully constructed and shot. Every world we enter in the multiverse is surprising and only gets weirder the more universes we enter. I stopped taking notes and my mouth was agape during the last hour of the film. I could not believe what I was watching and I loved every second of it.
Even in the moments when the film can be confusing or a bit too weird, it is held down by a remarkable performance from Michelle Yeoh. Yeoh is the heart and soul of the movie and gives her best performance since 2000’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. She keeps the film grounded and drives home its themes of reconnection, accepting different life paths, and the mother-daughter relationship. The finale of the film lands perfectly. It is very moving despite us traveling through a number of different universes in over two hours and will pull at a few heartstrings with Yeoh anchoring most of the emotion in the scene. Oh, and she also kicks some serious ass along the way, as if we needed any more proof that Michelle Yeoh is one of our great action stars working today.
If you like special effects-driven movies with tons of action, Everything Everywhere All at Once will be perfect for you. If like you like original movies with relatable themes and great storytelling, Everything Everywhere All at Once is for you as well. If you like both of these things, or neither, Everything Everywhere All at Once has something for you. You’ve never seen a movie like Everything Everywhere All at Once and I doubt you’ll ever see one like it again.
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