A Wrinkle in Time (more like a Drinkle of Wine,Please), Ava DuVernay’s big Disney adaptation featuring the future American president…Mindy Kaling. Adapting the 1960’s book by Madeleine L’Engle, the science fiction story hopes to use the vibrancy of cinema to bring this modern novel to a contemporary audience. However, the reception to this film has been mixed with Rotten Tomatoes scores South of the Mason-Dixon Line (A lot of blaming off the South of the Mason-Dixon line). So, are those mean nasty critics right, is this film bad?
First there’s Ava DuVernay who before this was widely known for her Netflix Documentary film 13th about how the incarceration of Blacks in America is a result of a systematic oppression to mimic the institution of slavery. While a documentary is certainly a different beast, I thought that it was well made and highly informative. It does a fine job presenting its own point but like many documentaries fails to confront the other side and comes across as extremely biased. As one side of the coin the documentary is a watch to gain a perspective but not necessarily an answer. Also having directed Selma it would be well affirmed that Ava DuVernay has had a pretty good track record thus far. Ava DuVernay also made some notoriety when she twitted prior to The Super Bowl that #FilmTwitter was going to blow up. Silly me, thought Ava was gaining traction for a spot for A Wrinkle in Time but no, Instead DuVernay committed the cardinal sin of endorsing The Cloverfield Paradox. That’s when it kind of set in that it’s possible DuVernay cares more about championing identity politics and representation over the quality of a film product.
A Wrinkle in Time doesn’t necessarily disprove that sentiment, but I would argue that DuVernay is one of the better things about the movie. I don’t think DuVernay is a hack by any means, she truly gets across that she does immensely care about what she’s doing. The heart is there and the desire to put something positive out them to inspire a young audience is commendable. Despite that, I went into A Wrinkle in Time not having read the book, and lukewarm going in and am lukewarm coming out of it.
The Screenplay is Kind of Bad
A Wrinkle in Time is a very confusing movie, and not like I’m stupid and I didn’t understand the quantum physics the film presents (they explain away the science in almost baby easy concepts). I felt that as a story almost reminds me a lot of Labyrinth with David Bowie or reminiscent of a simple children’s movie, heroes Journey’s tale. A Wrinkle in Time has all the requirements of the Hero’s Journey but it’s awkward to almost non-existent in transitioning or explaining each step of the journey.
There’s a scene where Reese Witherspoon turns into The Green Giant’s magic carpet for no reason. In any other movie it would have gone down like this.
“hey how are we going to get all the way over there?”
and as a Deus Ex Machina or means to achieve that objective Reese Witherspoon would be like
“Don’t worry because I can do this!”
and then the ride on the giant leaf to at the very least get to a new location.
But in this movie… we achieve absolutely nothing, the don’t go anywhere to the point that these tiny flowers are able to run and catch up to them within seconds, so they didn’t gain any distance which is complete bullshit. Could you imagine going on an airplane and it takes off for like 3 minutes and then crashes in the airport, like what!
Then in every other movie they would have gave a little foreshadowing of the antagonist, it would almost make too much sense to have Oprah to in one line just be like Beware the Red Eyes Black Dragon man he’s a tricky one. You even introduce him wearing sunglasses so it’s a dramatic reveal, but we have no idea who the fuck he his. I’m sure if I saw a guy with Red eyes I would probably have a panic at the disco, but how dangerous is he and what is his motive? If you read Harry Potter, how essential and foreshadowed is Voldemort and how powerful does he seem before the final climactic battle. Now imagine he instead just showed up randomly in book 5 presented himself as a threat and did absolutely nothing and then wasn’t even the ending villain confrontation (holy shit this is Snoke isn’t it).
The final confrontation is dumb. The only way this movie makes sense is that George Wallace is the puppeteer of darkness and this is all some allegorical representation of his depression after Chris Pine disappears and that way love is answer, because the real love was the friends we made along the way. I don’t think this movie is that complex, I honestly don’t think they hinted at all that this kid was nothing but a happy boy, so the ending is just nonsensical who cares just end it already cliché nonsense.
SPOILER SECTION CONCLUDED
The movie can’t even explain why Oprah and the Mrs. Are helping them in the first place. The only explanation is that they are the Crystal Gems, and they always save the day, and if you think they can’t they’ll always find a way. I give it a slight pass because it is for children, but the film relies on such a black and white binary conflict of the “light must defeat darkness” or good triumphs bad in the end. Star Wars is guilty of it but at least there’s other themes of tradition, power, balance, etc..
The script is so broken, so when they part way with the Mrs. Each Mrs. Presents them with a gift but then they don’t. Mindy gives them a looking glass, then Reese Witherspoon basically says, “You’re not Perfect” here’s a clip I think I can’t tell.
and then Oprah goes “Remember the no. 1 rule of Cub scouts, stay together”. Could you imagine the Ending of A Wizard of Oz was just the Cowardly Lion getting his badge of Courage, and then he calls the Scarecrow a retard, and tells the Tin-man a Winston Churchill quote. Only Mindy’s physical object actual has a purpose and the other two only are there to spew the ham-fisted morals deeper down our throats.
Every scene is flawed from a writing perspective. So, in the seen with the 50’s styled home, our group refuses to go in and accept food as it’s obviously a trap. In any other movie this would be the part where the world begins to corrupt because of them upsetting the set order of things. Instead, the world literally enfolds itself and without the characters moving at all does it become a beach scene. First person they see offers them food… Do you not see the problem here?? Time hasn’t past so the characters aren’t more desperate or resting on their morals, there’s no comfort in finding this place a “safe” refuge from previous locations, this is pretty much the how this scene goes.
The writers should be embarrassed as this story is all there but lacks any sign of cause and effect that really makes you wonder how no one patched this up.
Cinematography & Editing
What a fucking shit show. I wanted to compliment this movie on initial reaction I thought the use of scale in the film how infinite some of the landscapes look and how they factor in character size differences was… neat. The visual effects are fake looking that looks probably worse than Ready Player One that is supposed to take place within a virtual reality. Also apparently the idea of visually appealing is to shove every single color on the screen at once and then color correct to max saturation. Then even outside epileptic land the shot composition is trying waaaaaaaaay too hard at trying to make every shot cinematic. The last movie I saw in theatres was Phantom Thread which you’d think would make me desensitized to close-up usage but I still noticed that “wow they like to stick that camera up in people’s faces”. Every shot with no purpose tried to be overtly grand, and if every shots grand then none of them will be.
The editing was also questionable. It was strange but with all the close-up rarely did characters occupy the frame together which resulted in it seeming like no angle got left on the cutting room floor, there’s honestly like 7 different angles to cover a simple group conversation scene. Early scenes just have so much meaningless shots switching between everyone’s dumb face they’re barely even for reaction purposes. It almost gets to the point where it seems the movie is just reminding you that they are in fact still there. Then in one of the backyard scenes I swear they speed up the footage of Reese Witherspoon entering the backyard and it looks unprofessional and dumb.
Who’s This For?
The film is most recommendable to a kid that play with an abacus. I’m a nerdy loser and even I’m kind of thinking this goes to far with it. From Mindy’s character who speaks in BrainyQuotes, for the most part, the movie gives up on the gimmick and she just spews cliché positive affirmative because 17 characters already doing that wasn’t enough. Even after they ride the tornado past the wall along border of the Seven Kingdoms, they explain that plot contrivance as “meh, just physics”. There’s no tension, it seems like a neutered movie of an already tame idea just so like you can bring your baby and it won’t cry nothing too loud, or too uncomforting.
Also, Rowland Blanchard is in this movie. What a horrible miscast just so the kids in the audience could go, hey… I know who that is? I thought she was good in Girl Meets World (I thought that show was fine until it started doing weird love triangle appealing to 14-year-old Tumblr shippers, which was weird) but it was strange to see someone who’s familiar as the rainbow sunshine girl being the school bully with a cliche posse. Then this movie that can’t develop a plot point decides to take on the Herculean task of we have to make you hate her in two minutes and redeem her in one. So, to make this person seem so awful they just think of like the most horrid thing we could have her say in a PG movie and tape that to her locker. So basically, it’s different but all I could think of the equivalent being “your mom has cancer, when are you going to lose your hair too”. I guess it could happen but you kind of understand that it’s just to get that sentiment immediately established. Then they’re like well we got to have Cliché #36 so we have to see our enemy is emotional damaged and human too so they basically establish that she has an eating disorder in a 20 sec scene. They don’t even resolve that character arc, any other movie like the Karate Kid has that two second interaction were Johnny tells Daniel La Russo that he earned his respect. They just have her look out her window and awkwardly stare into their backyard. I feel bad because I feel that no character/actor really had a chance as the film only clearly had the objective of make this main character a flawed, relatable protagonist and worship Oprah.
A Wrinkle in Time confuses me in all the wrong way. I thought this would have been like an Inception for children as there’s sci-fi mumbo-jumbo to be the springboard to a Labyrinth or Don Bluth simple adventure story. The process of interdimensional travel is surprisingly the most understandable thing of the entire story. It’s a shame because Ava DuVernay does make it obvious that she cares but doesn’t have enough confidence in the project that she must come out in front and tell you how much fun she had making it and hopes you enjoy the movie. I hate coming down harsh on this movie as I think it’s close to a passable quirky kids’ adventure but there’s also so many signs of it being like despised Open House or The Cloverfield Paradox in that I feel that I just watched an assortment of scenes that tricked me into thinking that it was a movie. This film will recite a bunch of fortune cookies at you, operates on the most primitive of conflicts with no building onto them, with less than stellar film production I would have to conclude that this film is not very good.
Have You seen A Wrinkle in Time? What are your thoughts, was it a masterpiece or was it an underwhelming dud? Let me know, comment below leave a like and be sure to follow via WordPress or via e-mail to get more “quality” reviews and if you do, I’ll see you at the movies.