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A Wrinkle in Time – Movie Review

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A Wrinkle in Time – Movie Review

Rating: B- (Okay)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Walt Disney Studios

Madeleine L’Engle’s famed fantasy novel A Wrinkle in Time is a fairly complicated text, which hasn’t stopped it from attaining a fanbase of readers that have crossed generations. Ava DuVernay’s ambitions of adapting the book are certainly admirable, but the film disappointingly doesn’t entirely gel. It jumps from set-piece to set-piece in a fairly episodic fashion and unfortunately adopting a good amount of the book’s flaws. One admires the themes it hopes to explore and its young lead is a star in the making. There are occasional moments of inspiration and the visuals do impress, but one leaves the movie longing for a more emotional experience.

There are various points in A Wrinkle in Time, when it seems like the story will truly get going. However, the odd pacing leads to a movie that is equal parts slow and far too quick in its story beats. DuVernay and the film’s credited screenwriters, Frozen director Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell, have a whole host of ideas they want to bring to the film and the themes of finding one’s strength and positivity are welcome. However, rather than using tangible methods and metaphors, A Wrinkle in Time attributes negativity to an evil cloud. This seems like far too simplistic a way to address concepts like jealousy and anger. To DuVernay’s credit, she never talks down to the audience or dumbs down the material for children. She has a clear respect for the viewer to be able to follow along with the various jargon and scientific theories presented by the characters.

Storm Reid, as lead protagonist Meg Murry, has to carry a lot of the film on her shoulders and she delivers a strong performance. Addressing themes of self-doubt and not conforming to others’ ideals, Reid presents a hero many young girls will probably see themselves in. Reid isn’t helped by her young co-stars. Levi Miller’s Calvin fades into the background most of the time, primarily existing to follow Meg on her journey. Deric McCabe is directed to frequently shout his lines as Meg’s younger brother and this gets bothersome quickly. While Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling appear to be enjoying themselves as the mystical god-like beings who help the protagonists, they mostly serve to give exposition and their screen time isn’t as high as one might expect.

Plenty of odd close-up shots aside, A Wrinkle in Time does present some strong visuals. DuVernay takes full advantage of the limitless possibilities of computer effects and one wishes the movie had lessened the exposition and told the story using the images. The film could have used more “show, don’t tell” moments. One of the best and most eerie sequences is a brief detour into a cul-de-sac with children bouncing balls. The composition and staging of this scene tells us all we need to know and there should have been more sections like that one. Ramin Djawadi’s grandiose score also more than compliments the worlds crafted by DuVernay and the visual effects wizards.

A Wrinkle in Time is certainly an ambitious fantasy film and it’s easy to notice Ava DuVernay’s multitude of ideas that crossed her mind when making the movie and adapting L’Engle’s text. However, the emotion doesn’t entirely register, despite presenting a story about a daughter desperately trying to find her father. It ultimately becomes a series of little moments, told in an episodic manner. When the movie finishes, one feels like they’ve been taken on a journey, but not an especially fulfilling one. These ideas, messages and concepts deserve to be presented in a family film and it’s great to see DuVernay given the budget to make that happen. It’s a shame the finished cut is somewhat jumbled.

 

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE


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