Here we are in 2022 and Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness has been released. With a budget of $200 million, the movie was still underwhelming and quite boring, receiving a 74% on Rotten Tomatoes and leaving many fans disappointed with its predictable, simple story and many meaningless references that only fans with a deep knowledge of the Marvel universe would understand. After watching the Dr. Strange movie on opening day, my friends said we should’ve seen Everything Everywhere All At Once instead.
With a budget of only 25 million, Everything Everywhere All At Once was a beautiful, genre-bending, and absurd film. Everything from the vibrant colours, deep themes, and unpredictable directions make this movie great and like nothing else I’ve ever seen before.
The story follows a lower middle class Chinese immigrant mother named Evelyn, who owns a laundromat with her husband and father. She has a lesbian daughter which causes conflict with Evelyn’s father’s traditional beliefs. The seemingly normal story suddenly changes when someone from another multiverse visits her and asks her to help. Without spoiling the plot, Evelyn goes through exciting and absurd fight scenes, with strange themes and objects flying in every couple minutes. At the end, Evelyn learns to accept and embrace the situation she’s in and makes the best of it.
Firstly, the representation of marginalized groups in this movie is done well by providing an accurate and realistic view of different cultures and identities. Parts of the script jump between English and Mandarin and the movie has queer representation that doesn’t rely on stereotypes. The representation and celebration of Chinese culture makes the movie more interesting and unique compared to many of the top movies with primarily white, straight characters with added marginalized characters just for representation.
Unlike Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, this movie makes saving the multiverse feel ground-breaking and meaningful, though it’s much more metaphorical and philosophical than other multiverse films like the Dr. Strange movie series and Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse. The way that nihilism and other philosophies are intertwined into this story is really interesting and moving, as well as the use of motifs, such as the bagel, to represent the ideas and thoughts of the characters.
The visuals in Everything Everywhere All At Once are wonderfully vibrant and exciting. As with a stimulating and fast-paced movie, the animations and colours were almost too much at some points, but it made the movie as fun to watch as it was to interpret and understand. As well, the irony of silly objects, characters, and universes being represented in a way that makes you sympathize and relate with them is hilarious and beautiful at the same time. Most impressively, almost all the visual effects in the movie were done by five people without any formal special effects education, only learning from online tutorials and sharing their knowledge with each other.
The acting is great. The casting is of many decently famous actors like Michelle Yeoh and Jamie Lee Curtis; surprising considering the limited budget and size. The music fits the movie well to exemplify scenes and bring emotions, and the choice of talented artists like Mitski and André 3000 work well to make music that enhances the movie.
The mix of comedy and deep philosophical themes is exciting, novel, and fun. The movie portrays many forms of comedy in a way that everyone who watches it will find something funny, and I found myself laughing and crying throughout.
At the end of the movie, I felt both confused and impressed. Not confused in a way that there wasn’t enough information given, but in fact the opposite. There was a lot of information, almost too much, that was packed into the movie. Even after rewatching, I found it hard to grasp all the ideas. This is not inherently a negative thing, it just means that the movie should be watched many times or explicitly analyzed to completely understand, which does feel somewhat necessary to fully appreciate the movie.
Though the film is really good, it still has a few problems. Firstly, there are many points that feel like a final climax even though they aren’t. This wasn’t a problem in of itself but made me frame the movie to believe the ending was coming when in reality it was over an hour away. Secondly, the movie has too loose of a structure. The viewer has little idea what was coming next and that sometimes that can leave you feeling a bit lost. And the plethora of metaphors and symbols, each begging to be evaluated to understand, can be a little overwhelming and intimidating.
However, for the limited budget and small film crew size of this movie, Everything Everywhere All At Once has exceeded expectations when the other new multiverse-themed movie in cinemas was doing the opposite. I found myself ending the movie with tears in my eyes, having gone through the comedic and emotional scenes interwoven throughout the movie, and wanting to see the movie again with a new perspective.
The movie portrays a beautiful perspective on many issues, and presents them in a unique way. Daniel Kwan, one of the directors, said, “Trying to exist and live in the chaos of modern life. That was the thing that we were trying to capture. There’s no bad guy in the movie except for chaos itself – existence, so we could touch all those things: intergenerational [issues], sexuality, queer identity, Asian American identity, taxes!” And with a movie like this, I can see why they did this. Everything Everywhere All At Once demands for complexity and uniqueness and that’s exactly what it achieves.
Featured Image: Promotional Poster / A24 Films
I loved this movie, great article!!!
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Nicely captured the essence of the movie and gave a interesting opinion
good article. very good.