Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Everything, Everywhere, All At Once


All At Once

USA  2022
Directed by Dan Kwan
& Daniel Scheinert
(aka Daniels)
UK cinema Unlimited
cardholder preview.

Warning: Some inevitable spoilers.

Wow. It’s ‘the morning after’ and I’m hoping that my brain has managed to process enough information for me to try and write something half intelligent about this confusing but, ultimately very fun experience at the movies.

Well... okay, in a nutshell, the plot of Everything, Everywhere, All At Once involves an infinite number of alternate multiverses and a team of ‘good guys’ who have come to our universe because they believe a character called Evelyn can help fight against a villain known as Jobu Tupaki, who is threatening to destroy all the different multiverses by sucking them all in as part of the ‘everything’ of a giant black bagel with ‘everything’ on it. So Evelyn is taught how to jump into different versions of herself in different worlds to acquire the memory of the skills she needs in order to slingshot back into her current universe and try and fight a battle, of sorts, in her own reality. That’s my best take away from this as a plot so, if I got it slightly wrong, forgive me but, it’s a very dense film of different layers and, well, everything kind of happens all at once in it, as the title suggests.

But, as I implied, asides from not being 100% on how the physics and rules of the ‘jumping’ from incarnation to incarnation works... it kinda doesn’t matter. Once you can relax into this film and just take it for what it is, which is a bombardment of rich and, frankly, crazy ideas, then you should have a lot of fun with it. There are endless pop culture references in here from 2001 A Space Odyssey through Ratatouille (which I’ve not seen myself but, even so, I totally got the long running Racacoonie joke in this) and even Wong Kar Wai’s In The Mood For Love.

But this is only one level of the fun as we are transported along with Evelyn, rapid fire, into alternate realities where, for instance, Evelyn is a rock with googly eyes (like a pet rock... and the googly eyes are kind of an inverse black bagel in terms of their significance in the movie) or caught in a lesbian love affair in a universe where everyone has hot dogs for hands (and ooze mustard and ketchup from their mouths when having sex). So there’s stuff going on all the time at, trust me on this one, a fair lick of a pace... love it or hate it, you at least won’t get bored during this film, which is split up into three parts... 1. Everything, 2. Everywhere and 3. All At Once.

So you need a cast who are experienced to be able to handle all this stuff credibly (and also handle some of the quite intense action choreography which is sometimes needed for many of the scenes). And that’s exactly what we have here...

Evelyn is played by Michelle Yeoh who, frankly, I’ve always had a soft spot for and she really demonstrates that at 60 years of age (looking pretty much like she's 30) she’s still not too old to really carry a movie on her back. She’s always had brilliant fighting skills from her pre-Bond (and after) days of making kung fu action movies and, while that certainly stands her in good stead for this role (which was apparently at first conceived for her old Supercop co-star Jackie Chan), her brilliant way of putting over the emotions and complexities of her character are absolutely wonderful. What a fantastic actress.

I’ll get to Evelyn’s husband in a little while. Her daughter is played by Stephanie Hsu, who I don’t think I’ve seen before but, once her different multiversal personalities start snapping to and fro, it’s a quite dazzling performance as she captures multiple different states of mind at the flip of a switch. Again, a very strong actress who really shines in the second half of the film.

As Evelyn’s father we have the living legend that is James Wong. He just turned 93 a couple of days ago and has finally been given a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame (with over 600 roles to his credit... it’s about time) but he was certainly spry and nimble enough to do some sequences you would expect from a much younger actor in this.

Joining these three as a villanous henchman... or rather henchwoman (and sometime hot dog fingered lover) is the equally legendary Jamie Lee Curtis. She’s certainly come a long way in her career and does a great job with one of many complex roles in the film, which must have been far from her comfort zone. Trust me when I say that all the actors in this movie look and act totally ridiculous for a lot of the time... which has always been the case with actors but, in this movie, more so.

And then there’s the big surprise (for me at least, I went into this one relatively blind), of just who is playing the key role of Evelyn’s husband Waymond. He gives a very good, supporting, warm hearted performance but also, in an incredible fight sequence where he uses his belt bag as a pair of nunchucks in a tax office, acquits himself way more than adequately in the fighting skills department. All the way through the movie he looked somewhat familiar but I just couldn’t place him. All the candidates I thought he might be would have been a lot older than he is here. So, when I saw in the credits that he’s played by Ke Huy Quan, I blinked somewhat, said to myself, “Wait... really? Is that...?” and then confirmed what I suddenly realised with the IMDB app on my phone. Yep, it’s the guy who, as a boy, played Short Round in Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom (and who was also in The Goonies, which is a movie I haven’t seen, actually). All I can say is wow. He’s just fantastic in this and, I can tell you, has great chemistry with Michelle Yeoh. They should put these two in more movies together, I think.

And that’s all I’m going to say about this one. Especially since it’s almost impossible to describe most of the scenes in any credible way... you kind of have to experience it to know it, I think. Suffice to say, I found Everything, Everywhere, All At Once to be a highly entertaining and extremely impressive cinematic experience and I’ll definitely be importing the Blu Ray release of this very soon (I have a feeling it won’t get one in the UK... I believe it’s reserved for TV channel exclusivity aka ‘the death of the art of film’ over here). It’s not showing in a lot of UK cinemas... or certainly a lot less than, say, other multiverse movies currently at the cinema (which I will catch up on soon for the blog, I promise)... so I would definitely try and catch this one on the big screen if you have the opportunity.

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