A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
Disney's latest adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, starring Oprah Winfrey, Chris Pine, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Zach Galifianakis, and Michael Pena is finally out! Find out if this star-studded cast makes this film a hit in our official review!
A Messy Story With An Important Message
The latest live-action Disney reboot revitalizes the classic tale by Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle In Time. Both the film and book follow a young girl, Meg Murray (Storm Reid), her baby brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), and their friend Calvin (Levi Miller) on a quest to find Meg’s long lost father (Chris Pine), across time and space. With Ava Duvernay (Selma) at the helm, along with a cast that included Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Zach Galifianakis, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Michael Pena there’s no way Disney could miss, until it did.
A Wrinkle in Time suffers from a severe lack of development and continuity. After maybe 5-7 minutes of exposition, the quest to find the elder Murray suddenly starts, with Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) suddenly appearing in the Murray house. It’s revealed that she and Charles Wallace know each other, but it’s never explored. In fact, as Charles Wallace guides Meg and Calvin to meeting the rest of the deities, Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), there’s no reason given for how this 6-7 year old boy knows these women. Instead, they give the lazy excuse that Charles Wallace is special, because that makes sense.
Once on the quest, the film evens out, almost as if Duvernay was just trying to speed through the time on Earth to get to the actual meat of the project. It shows when the trio of kids hops around from plain to plain, trying to find Mr. Murray (Chris Pine), and experience new and never-before-seen creatures. It’s clear that the team put the most time and effort into these scenes they include some of the more entertaining moments of the film. Unfortunately, much like the antagonist, The It, the lack and development and continuity is always lurking and reveals itself during the most inopportune times.
Most of these issues derive from other characters and the editing bay skipping over their pivotal moments, but there is one character that Duvernay highlights and that’s Meg. Naturally, Meg is the main character of the film, so she should have the most development. Thankfully, she does and it shows the range of the actress playing her, Storm Reid. Acting aside, though, Meg is a vehicle for an especially important message, that becomes a theme throughout the film. Be a Warrior. Face Your Fears. Be Strong.
Duvernay may not have done her best work on A Wrinkle in Time, but she did capture the true essence of the story and the meaning behind it, even if the execution was flawed.
A Cast Trying to Find Inspiration
Typically, children’s films that star well-recognized actors are only there to draw in a bigger audience. For the actors, this isn’t a tough job. You go in, read your lines, help the kids, and in a few months promote the movie. That’s why it’s often noticeable when talented actors are found sleepwalking through these types of films. Unfortunately, A Wrinkle in Time is more of the same.
Michael Pena is more in the trailers than he is in the film, Mindy Kaling is literally sleeping through portions of the film, and usually doesn’t have much to say, Mbatha-Raw is only there accentuate the feeling of loss of losing her husband and the kids father, and Oprah plays an instructive deity, otherwise known as herself, but even that appears to be 50%.
As for the rest, Chris Pine is always fantastic and believable, and the parts he’s in are some of the best moments of the film, few as they are. Reese Witherspoon plays a mouthy deity and brings a lot of energy and humor to the film. However, the actor that surprises the most is Zach Galifianakis who shows a ton of range, by bringing a serious side to A Wrinkle in Time. At times, it almost seemed like he was uncomfortable, but that’s what made his character enjoyable to watch.
While the veteran actors may get all the acclaim, the kids are clearly the stars of this film. Storm Reid plays most of the film solemn and untrusting, but her development throughout is one of the better crafted parts of the film. Deric McCabe brings youthful enthusiasm to Charles Wallace and shows a good amount of range in his first big-budget film. He’ll be one to watch as his career grows.
Then there is Levi Miller. Miller plays Calvin, a kid with a massive crush on Meg, but it wasn’t natural the way they showed it. For starters, he just suddenly appears when Meg and Charles Wallace are walking their dog. His excuse for being there was that, “He felt this was where he needed to be.”. Later on, when he’s at their house, Calvin starts saying how the house is special and smells great. This was how he was throughout the whole film, like he was in a trance. I kept waiting for some explanation, but there was none to give. In fact, this character could’ve been left out of the film and no one would’ve missed him.
A Beautiful CGI Experience
They say that the art of creating a film is essentially creating a lie. The actors trying to lie to the audience that they are someone else and the director is trying to show that they’re someplace else that isn’t a studio in LA, Canada, or wherever. Disney has had a great track record of being the most adept at lying to the audience, with convincing films. The most convincing, recently, had to be The Jungle Book where Mowgli was the only human in a CGI-created Africa.
While A Wrinkle in Time doesn’t wow like The Jungle Book did, and it’s obvious that they’re mainly in a studio, the visual effects are some of the best to experience. The way the team is able to fold the space in the scene to create a portal to another world, then show what it’s like to travel through space, and finally show these eccentric and eclectic places is astounding. Most viewers will see through the lie and notice the obvious set pieces and studio, but neither of those realizations take away from the feast for the eyes.
A Film Part of the Family Will Enjoy
The main takeaway I had with A Wrinkle in Time is that most kids will enjoy this movie and will walk out feeling empowered. Just conveying this message is what, no doubt, makes this movie a win in Duvernay’s book. However, for over the last decade or so, studios have tried to think of the adults as much as the audience when making children’s films. Kids are dragging their parental guardians to these films, so they might as well be enjoyable for the parent, as well.
Unfortunately, I think Disney disregarded that notion and instead put all their focus on the youths watching the film. This makes A Wrinkle in Time the safest film you could take your kids to see, but it does become a chore for the adults in the audience to sit through. Nevertheless, the main audience will enjoy the message and wow-factor that are the visuals of this film. They most likely won’t notice the flaws in this film, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. It’s not a film for everyone, and it isn’t Disney’s best work, but it is a film that parents can have piece of mind that their kids will be exposed to a fun, exciting world, without fear of any questionable content appearing on screen.
A Lackluster Attempt At A Classic Tale
I do believe that Ava Duvernay accomplished her goal of capturing the essence of the story, for A Wrinkle in Time. Where she falls flat is being able to pull meaningful performances out of her biggest stars and executing a film that made sense. She succeeds in allowing Storm Reid to shine as the star and develop a visual experience, but that's about it. Kids will love this movie. Parents will tolerate it.