Review - 'A Wrinkle in Time'
Disney tends to release an oddball live-action experiment every year or so just to test the waters, and I'd say their batting average is consistently 50/50. Despite how much of a passion project A Wrinkle In Time was declared to be, it is nevertheless a clear swing and a miss.
Based upon the famous novel by Madeleine L'Engle of the same name, A Wrinkle In Time follows Meg who is dealing with the mysterious disappearance of her father. Meg is confronted by three astral travelers, who through a tesseract, take her to a different planet so that she may find her father and overcome IT, a powerful darkness that is the physical embodiment of the world's sins.
Oz the Great and Powerful comes to mind when watching Ava DuVernay's A Wrinkle in Time. There are flourishes of creativity here and there, but the film is drowned in CGI and the performances seem like caricatures of something that used to be vaguely human. I'm not trying to be mean, but it's a very hard obstacle to cross when you can't feel the humanity in so many crucial characters, nor see any sense of wonder in the fake, green-screen sound stages in which it looks like most of this was filmed. I know this is an important project for director Ava DuVernay, but there are very few moments in this film where I felt like it transcended the typical Disney blockbuster mold.
Fortunately the lead, Storm Reid who plays Meg, is actually pretty strong here. She's the most believable and human character in the picture and thus manages to give it a slight twinge of genuine emotion when it counts. The only other character that really seems to be trying here is Chris Pine, who plays Meg's lost father, Dr. Alexander, and while his shadow looms throughout the entire film, he's not actually in very much of it at all. The rest of the cast is pretty much a bust. Oprah Winfrey is surprisingly mediocre as Mrs. Which, while Mindy Kaling and Reese Witherspoon are equally terrible and borderline unwatchable as Mrs. Who and Mrs. Whatsit. Then we have Zach Galifianakis is doing his same awkward side-character schtick only with more make-up. Then there's Meg's brother and friend/love interest; Charles Wallace and Calvin (Deric McCabe and Levi Miller, respectively). McCabe does do a pretty good job with the annoying brother role, but quickly becomes tiresome to be around, while Miller, well, I don't know what he's doing, but boy is it wrong.
Another thing that is infuriating about A Wrinkle In Time is just how unimaginative it all seems. There's tons of CGI baubles that we're meant to marvel at, but none of it seems new or unique in any way. No offense to Ava DuVernay or Disney, but this was not a film I believe that they were prepared to make and perhaps it's another case of a novel that's just not meant to be adapted. The movie is only minimally imaginative, and it's ambition feels slight at best. The one quality that fortunately does shine through is it's heart, which is in the right place, though those strings are rarely tugged at.
A Wrinkle In Time is another miscalculated live-action Disney product that finds itself nestled right up against the likes of Oz the Great and Powerful and Alice in Wonderland. Yes, there's a near-successful attempt at an emotional climax, but that and Storm Reid's competent performance are not enough to save this movie from its abundance of baffling characters, sub-par special effects and lack of imagination.