We are always intrigued to see if a books translated into film is successful, it can be hard to accomplish. As children neither of us got around to reading "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L’Engle but Julie vividly remembers the cover that featured a centaur and rainbow and was always curious about the story. The trailer certainly was intriguing with shots of beautiful other worldly settings and a story that looked a tad creepy with a clip of cookie cutter children, in a Stepford Wives looking town. This week we were invited to a screening and these are our thoughts...
Official film synopsis:
From visionary director Ava DuVernay comes Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” an epic adventure based on Madeleine L’Engle’s timeless classic which takes audiences across dimensions of time and space, examining the nature of darkness versus light and, ultimately, the triumph of love. Through one girl’s transformative journey led by three celestial guides, we discover that strength comes from embracing one’s individuality and that the best way to triumph over fear is to travel by one’s own light.
This movie was set up with some amazing elements. A visionary female director. A diverse, stacked cast. An award-winning classic book. Disney's powerhouse effects studio. But unfortunately when all the pieces came together I just felt left with a really beautiful mess. The director had a message before the film started that she wanted to bring joy into the world, and you should channel your inner child to see this film. But unfortunately this film didn't really have me feeling any joy or child-like excitement.
The story centers around relatable Meg Murray, an awkward nerdy teen who has been acting out since her scientist father (Chris Pine) disappearance 4 years ago. She lives with her mother (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who is loving but frustrated, and her little brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), an odd little genius. One night they are visited by a whacky Mrs. Whatsit who mentions that a Tesseract (a way to travel through space and time) is real and the reason their father has disappeared. Meg is the only one who can save him and must decide to go on a cosmic journey.
All the sudden a classmate Calvin shows up out of nowhere and blindly decides to follow Meg and her brother. They meet all three of the Mrs. spirit guides before departing. I must say the costuming was pretty epic with lots of crazy fabric and glitter. But the acting a little weird. They weren't human so maybe they weren't supposed to seem human but Reese seemed flaky, Mindy just spoke in quotes from other people, and Oprah was like a wise owl, giving out generic pep talks.
The rest of the movie is basically the kids moving from one odd scene to the next trying to save Meg's father from the evil force "IT". There are many plot holes (Why are the kids riding on a flying lettuce leaf? Why would a genius kid follow an evil red eyed man? etc.) and the ending seemed to just kind of happen. Things were certainly beautiful with a rainbow of colors and lights but in the end it just seemed like a lot of empty fluff. Scenes for no reason, a blah story line and an unfulfilling wrap up. While this film has great intentions to be powerful and inspiring, unfortunately when I left the theater instead of feeling positivity I was asking myself what was the point?
HER RATING: 1.5 out of 5.0 "tesseracts"
To summarize, A Wrinkle in Time is stunningly bland. Basically, it looks pretty but the storyline is lacking. I’m not sure if Disney thought the graphics and big names would make up for the story but they failed.
Since I never read A Wrinkle in Time I can’t speak to how well the movie followed the source material but I have a hard time believing it did because there is no way a book this popular could be this boring. Here is the story: Dad disappears and kids go retrieve him. I wish I could say there were some nuanced side plots but there just isn’t. The kids hit a few minor roadblocks along the way but these are quite easily sidestepped.
The performances also seemed off but I am inclined to put that more on the writing/directing and not the acting because I have seen a few of these actors in other movies and I know they are much better than their portrayal of the various characters in this movie.
The graphics were well done but I believe we have reached a point with technology in movies that special effects alone can’t save movies. Unless it is an animated film, I just can’t get overly excited about effects. Normally I walk out of the theater with at least one memorable thing about a movie, whether it be the music, the story, or a certain scene that really stuck with me. I left the theater after watching a Wrinkle in Time with literally no memorable moments to look back on.
HIS RATING: 1.5 out of 5.0 "tesseracts"
This movie is best for: Maybe people who loved the original story? Maybe tween kids? We aren't really sure, I can't imagine little kids would sit through it. And I would guess most adults would feel the same as us.
View the official movie site HERE.