'A Wrinkle in Time'
When Disney isn’t making billion-dollar ‘Star Wars’, Marvel, and animated movies, the studio does less well with over-ambitious, tone-deaf fluff like 2015’s ‘Tomorrowland’. Unfortunately, Ava DuVernay’s new adaptation of ‘A Winkle in Time’ is another major disappointment.
If Paramount was worried about audiences scratching their heads following ‘Annihilation’, Disney execs should be having panic attacks from the wrinkles this messy and superfluous 110-minute snoozefest will leave on the faces of its viewers.
The movie kicks off with a nice introduction to the attractive, science-minded parents Mr. and Mrs. Murry (Chris Pine and Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and their gorgeous daughter Meg (Storm Reid) on the eve of adopting a boy. We experience the intense love that they have for one another and suddenly leap four-plus years into the future without any indicator of a time jump. The adopted boy that we had yet to meet is suddenly in the home and Mr. Murry is inexplicably missing. This sloppy editing and poor transitioning is a perfect glimpse into the all-around poor filmmaking that lies ahead. Things happen in ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ that are either under- or over-explained. Unfortunately, the things of most importance are typically under-explained, while the unimportant things are over-explained.
It takes Meg 30 minutes to find out where her father is. Prior to his disappearance, he was on the verge of understanding how to travel through time and space with a power that will make ‘Interstellar’-haters have PTSD flashbacks. While he may have unraveled the mystery, he bit off more than he could chew. Now that Meg, her brother, and a random boy from school have all reached certain points in their lives, three multidimensional fairy godmothers arrive to lead the kids on a journey to bring Mr. Murry back.
Reese Witherspoon chews scenery as Mrs. Whatsit, an annoying being who mugs at the camera more than Kate McKinnon in ‘Ghostbusters’. She introduces the kids to Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), a wise being who only communicates in proverbial quotes from such people as Gandhi, Lin Manuel Miranda and Outkast. Finally, we meet Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), a 50-foot ghost woman whose sole purpose is to reign in Mrs. Whatsit and spout words of encouragement like the Oracle from ‘The Matrix’.
The six of them travel together to pointless locations that provide 100% CGI scenery and a mere fraction of plot advancement. The first locale looks like a set-piece from ‘Halo 2′ and has just about the same resolution. Instead of advancing the story, we spend time learning about flying intelligent flowers who communicate through the language of color, and watching the kids pointlessly fly around on a salad. If that doesn’t sound groan-inducing enough, just wait until you meet Zach Galifianakis’ balanced yoga instructor and Michael Peña’s diabolical puppet.
I’ve never read the so-called literary classic that ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ is adapted from, but I have yet to find a single person who has and actually liked it. I get the impression that it’s the type of dated book that was once ahead of its time, but hasn’t aged well and Disney didn’t get the memo. Giving credit where it’s due, the studio handed it to a more-than-capable indie filmmaker who shoots the hell out of the intimate realistic moments, but has no idea how to shoot the expensive blockbusters scenes.
If ‘Peter Rabbit’ didn’t float your boat and you’ve been waiting for a more suitable movie to take your kids to, better luck next time.