‘Wrinkle in Time’ needs a few things ironed out

by Tim English on March 12, 2018

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Minor Rock Fist Down]

I’m not going to sugarcoat this one. A Wrinkle in Time is not good. Disney’s second adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle‘s 1962 novel looks and feels more like a cheesy 80′s network movie-of-the-week than it does a big budget studio movie. The effort is there, but for whatever reason, this book does not translate well to the silver screen.

Where to begin? The film opens with a montage introducing us to young Meg and her astrophysicist father Jack (Chris Pine). Then we jump ahead four years where Meg is an outcast at her school, a victim of bullying apparently because her father disappeared. Then for really no reason other, these three inter-dimensional traveling time fairies show up and offer to help Meg and her adopted brother Charles Wallace find her father, who created a contraption that allowed him to travel across the galaxy by “tessering” — I’ll let the movie explain it.

And for more reasons that aren’t really fully explained, they have to do this before the IT and the Man with Red Eyes (Michael Pena) swallow the galaxy or something — maybe it was explained but I was suffering from sensory overload because of all the FX — and glitter. .. why was there so much glitter? It’s full of plot holes, most of the time, the plot is nonsensical, and the movie over produced. I haven’t seen this much unnecessary CGI since George Lucas’ prequel trilogy.

Director Ava DuVernay (Selma) and screenwriter Jennifer Lee never seem to find a balance between the stories intimate character moments and the bid budget action set pieces. While we’re trying to figure out the meandering story, there’s also this “overcome your personal obstacles, rise above your tormenters, girl power and realizing your potential, or something. The message is strong, but it gets lost in the clusterfuck of CGI and drowned out by the obnoxious soundtrack, without really adding anything to the story.

At times it feels like two different movies, one the ABC movie of the week, the other being a Disney after school special. No thank you to both. Come on, you remember those lame network event TV mini-series they used to roll out during May sweeps every year? Take a beloved classic, pepper in some TV stars (Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling) and a movie star (Reese Witherspoon) hamming it up and overacting in every single scene, jazzy it up with some crappy TV-budget FX and don’t forget some soundtrack friendly songs.

Speaking of Oprah: God love her, but man, she brings zero to this movie. Her character appears bigger than everyone, she looks green-screened into every shot and then she has these weird, amateurishly framed close ups that look like they may have shot some of her scenes on a web cam. It’s all very distracting. Same goes for Witherspoon, who wins for the most unnecessarily over-the-top performance.

But the kids rock, so there is some good to come out of this, and it may be the most important thing about this flick. Storm Reid is fantastic as the elder Meg and has a solid career ahead of her. And the little dude that plays her brother (Deric McCabe) was pretty creepy. And of course, Chris Pine is solid in the few scenes he appears in.

A Wrinkle in Time has a good message. Don’t get me wrong. But it feels so ham-fisted and forced into a movie that is already struggling to tell its own story. How much of that blame falls on the filmmakers? Beats me, but this may be a situation situation where Ava and company are trying to adapt the unadaptable.

Writer. Ad Man. Jedi. Sometimes people ask for my opinion on movies. Sometimes they agree. Member of the Kansas City Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Creator and voice of the Reel Hooligans podcast. Find us on iTunes. Board member for the Independent Filmmakers Coalition of Kansas City and founder of the Terror on the Plains Horror Festival.

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