Review for Everything Everywhere All At Once

9 / 10

Introduction


I knew that the physical media market was dying, but I didn’t know that it was this far gone! Everything Everywhere All At Once was the biggest movie of 2022, a veritable box office smash, fan favourite, critics’ darling, and it vacuumed up the awards. It took seven of the meaningful Oscars, three acting awards, editing, screenplay, direction, and the best picture for that year. It was also a movie about the sci-fi fad of the moment, the multiverse, which Marvel has been flirting with to varying degrees of success. I wanted to watch this film from the moment I heard about it. And it has yet to see a UK physical release in any format. It’s been an Amazon Prime streaming exclusive in the UK since 2022, and that shows no sign of changing anytime soon. It’s not Netflix Jail, but it may as well be.

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You would have thought that I’d have imported it long ago; given this state of affairs, but the US/Canada releases are Lionsgate Region A locked. There are plenty of Region B territories you might say, and indeed there are releases in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Scandinavia and so on. But there is a lot of Mandarin, Cantonese, and other non-English dialogue in the film, and all these European territories have discs with those scenes hard-subbed into their local languages, not English. There is an Australian release. But the webstores I used to frequent, have either gone bust, or have stopped exporting to the UK because of Brexit. It’s been out of stock at Amazon.au every time I looked. I finally found it this year, at Amazon US of all places. I placed the order, Amazon US imported the disc from Australia, and then sent it to me in the UK. I’ve paid twice what I usually spend on Blu-rays to watch this film. Now watch it finally get a UK home video release just as I type this.

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Evelyn Wang’s laundry is being audited, and she is buried under receipts trying to sort out her taxes. Her husband Waymond is feeling ignored and has come up with a plan to present her with divorce papers to shock her into paying attention to him, only she’s ignoring the document as well. Evelyn’s daughter Joy doesn’t feel seen either, especially as Evelyn wants to hide Joy’s relationship with her girlfriend Becky from Joy’s grandfather. It’s going to be a stressful enough visit to the IRS to explain their finances, but in the building, Waymond’s personality suddenly and inexplicably shifts, and he tells Evelyn that she’s the only one who can save the multiverse from the destructive force that is Jobu Topaki.

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The Disc


Everything Everywhere All At Once gets a 1.85:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on this disc, although this is a film that uses multiple aspect ratios as one way to depict multiple universes. You have the choice between DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround English, DD 2.0 English Audio Descriptive, with optional English subtitles for the English dialogue, and burnt in subtitles for non-English dialogue. Everything Everywhere All At Once is a low budget film, so expect noticeable digital cinematography, good in detail and colour, but lacking in contrast in darker scenes. The production values are high regardless, when it comes to costume design, set design and decoration, and make-up. The filmmakers draw on a lot of cinematic influences to inform their style, and it’s fun spotting direct references or thematic flavours. The audio is fine, nice and immersive, while keeping the dialogue as clear as is normal for modern filmmaking (in other words, expect to skip back and turn the subtitles on a couple of times during the film).

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Extras


The one downside of this Roadshow Entertainment release from Australia is that half of the extra features are dumped going from the US Lionsgate release. You get one disc in a BD Amaray style case. The disc boots to a static menu after playing an Australian anti-piracy infomercial. On the disc you’ll find the following.

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Audio commentary with writer/directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
Deleted Scenes with Audio Commentary (13:50)
Almost Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Everything Everywhere All At Once (40:46)

The US release also has a couple of featurettes, some outtakes, and a music video, so it might be worth considering if you can spin Region A.

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Conclusion


The hype is definitely deserved. Everything Everywhere All At Once is the film I hoped it would be, and more. It’s a delightful, comic, yet moving romp that really delivers, especially to fans of the sci-fi genre. Let’s face it, with comic books inspiring TV shows and movies that mainstream in the box-office these days, it’s not just the niche that is familiar with these tropes. It means that films like this can indeed grab big audiences, and sweep up the awards, where twenty or thirty years ago it would have been an afterthought.
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It’s a high concept sci-fi, a multiverse threatened by a mysterious and all powerful villain, and in the middle of all her personal stress, a parallel universe version of Evelyn’s husband jumps into his body, to recruit her as the sole person who can save all realities. It’s a little bit Matrix, but nodding more to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. A bit of deft exposition explains the rules of this multiverse, that improbable actions open windows into other realities, where someone can access the skill set of their alternate self. It turns out that Evelyn’s life is a lot more interesting in other realities, and it isn’t long before she’s picking up some serious kung-fu skills.

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Naturally, all this time the villain of the piece, Jobu Topaki has become aware of Evelyn, and is seeking her out as well, with many minions also jumping verses. It becomes a race against time for Evelyn to understand this multiverse and amass her powers before the ultimate and inevitable confrontation.

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Everything Everywhere All At Once is certainly a delight for the eyes. There are so many references to popular cinema, each frame is so lushly composed that just watching the film for its little quirks has entertainment value. Yet at the centre of it all, Everything Everywhere All At Once is a film with a whole lot of heart. Of all the comparisons that I can draw, the most meaningful would be to reference Field of Dreams. Both that film and Everything Everywhere All At Once are high concept vehicles, which when it comes down to it, are really all about the most fundamental of human relationships. Everything Everywhere All At Once will most certainly entertain, but it will also grab you by the heart. It’s one of those films where the protagonist has to go an utterly absurd journey, but that’s the only way that they’ll learn who they truly are.

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The breakneck pace of Everything Everywhere All At Once might give some people pause, but it’s definitely worth sticking with. It verges on criminal that I had to jump through so many hoops to be able to watch one of the biggest films of recent years on disc, and given what I paid (expect to pay the ticket price over again for postage) I can’t realistically say that it’s worth it financially. But I am satisfied that I’ve finally got to watch this film.

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