The idea of parallel universes is hardly a new one, but it certainly seems to be a popular trope at the moment, mostly thanks to Marvel I guess. But coming out at exactly the same time are two big films. One is Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness – a massive spectacular powered by the all the money the Marvel behemoth can throw at it. The other is Everything, Everywhere, All at Once, a heavily subtitled independent film costing a 10th of the budget of Dr Strange. David and Goliath. And I’m voting for Goliath.
There’s a lot of potential and a lot that’s good about Everything, Everywhere, All at Once. For a start the title is much better than the clunky Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, still rather long, but at least there’s poetry to it. I really enjoyed the opening sections of EEAaO (as no one is calling it), thown into the world of the Wang family living not quite the America Dream. I liked the improbable hero in Evelyn Wang, played wonderfully by the always amazing Michelle Yeoh and really appreciated the realistic approach to someone being pulled out of a tax audit to be told she’s got to save the universe.
However, the mechanics then just overwhelmed the whole thing. Action sequences got bogged down, characters got lost, comic fell flat and I couldn’t get into the rhythm of it. Each time I just tried to go with the flow and not worry about the logic, another chunk of exposition appeared; just as I got the hang of that, we were thrown into another action sequence. And then the worse crime of all… it was at least 30 minutes too long.
Now I must confess, that about 90 minutes into the film I realised I wanted to go to the bathroom. I decided to tough it out, thinking there couldn’t be that much more of it left and there really wasn’t any sense of breaks that would make acceptable gaps. But it just went on and on, I did eventually nip out, not least because I had so completely lost the plot and was so bored, that I seriously considered not coming back for what proved to be ANOTHER 15 minutes. It just kept going on and on. Doctor Strange may be many things, but it was never anything other than 100% engaging. Everything, Everywhere, All at Once… more like Too Much, All Over the Shop, On and On.