A Wrinkle in Time. Or: Flying lettuce: the movie.
Ever since Madeleine L’Engle wrote A Wrinkle in Time back in 1962, people have been calling it unfilmable. It’s story is bizarre, unnatural and one that likely wouldn’t play out well on the big screen.
But of course, that’s never stopped Disney before — they’ll do anything if they think it produces money — so here we are.
That being said, A Wrinkle in Time looked like it had a lot going for it. The film is directed by Ava DuVernay (Selma, 13th), and has a pretty impressive cast that’s composed of Storm Reid, Chris Pine, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling to boot.
A Wrinkle in Time was also making headlines before its release — this is the first film with a budget over $100 million to be directed by an African-American woman.
A quick word about that: I don’t want to take anything away from that milestone. It’s great that Disney and DuVernay could work on this together and that A Wrinkle in Time gives us a chance to celebrate diversity. DuVernay has long been a vocal iconic about diversity and feminism in Hollywood, and she uses this film to further elaborate on some of those ideas.
That being said, I’ve read a lot of articles in the past couple of weeks that have been patting Hollywood in its back, saying it’s now diverse because of this movement. That’s ridiculous. Movies have been around for over 100 years, this is something that should have happened a long, long time ago. While I don’t want to take away from any of the progress Hollywood has been making, one film simply can’t solve anything: we’re on step one of a 100 mile journey.
That, of course, has nothing to do with the actual quality of the film. Turns out, A Wrinkle in Time isn’t actually up to par.
Meg Murry (Reid) hasn’t seen her father, Alex Murry (Pine), in four years. Alex was right on the brink of some incredible scientific discovery — something that could potentially unlock all the secrets of the universe, or something like that — before he disappeared.
At this point, most assume he’s dead or never coming back. Even Meg, her mother Kate Murry (Gugu Mbatha-Raw of The Cloverfield Paradox, because the world is determined I don't forget that movie) and adopted brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) have trouble remaining hopeful at some points.
Through it all, however, they never give up. And for good reason — Alex is actually alive.
Meg learns this when she’s visited by three other-worldly deities/creatures/beings/what-are-these-things?, known as the Mrs. — Mrs. Who (Kaling), Mrs. Which (Winfrey) and Mrs. Whatsit (Witherspoon). They’ve heard Alex calling out for help, and they want to take Meg to go find him.
So, after some imaginative whisking and whirling, Meg, Charles Wallace and this other kid named Calvin (Levi Miller) who is randomly along for the ride, get transported to this other, colorful world and begin their journey.
And, turns out, the whole thing is a nonsensical mess that never really amounts to anything.
There’s a lot of good intentions in A Wrinkle in Time. DuVernay swings for the fences, determined to create a sci-fi film unlike anything you’ve ever seen. A Wrinkle in Time gets credit for its willingness to take chances and feel different from typical blockbusters.
If only there was a good script to accompany those bold chances. A Wrinkle in Time has a fine set-up, but as soon as we enter this other world the whole thing goes to hell. Oprah is randomly 20 feet-tall yet completely unfazed, Reese Witherspoon has the power to turn into a flying artichoke but doesn’t actually do anything with it and Michael Peña randomly appears only to turn into a crumpled puppet. None of it makes the slightest bit of sense.
It only gets worse at the film goes on, as the third act introduces a really shoehorned villainous thing. In these final act, the film suddenly finds itself relying on Deric McCabe to carry the entire movie — not the greatest idea, as McCabe doesn’t have the same acting talent or charisma as other actors his age. The whole thing falls completely flat at this point, as there’s no stakes to be felt.
Ava DuVernay is at her best when she’s creating dramatic moments, and those are the scenes in A Wrinkle in Time that work best. We understand the connection between Chris Pine and his movie and we feel the longing that his family has to reunite with him, which lends itself to a few emotional moments. There’s also a great voice-over montage from Oprah around the half-way point that explains why people act in the way that they do, all of which points to how could this movie actually could have been if it wasn’t so all over the place.
A Wrinkle in Time is a frustratingly bad film. Not bad in the sense where you’re going to walk out during the movie, but bad in that DuVernay gets so close to coming up with something good here, but can’t quite close it. The story structure is a complete mess andthe world-building all looks like green-screen and poorly made CGI. There’s good within A Wrinkle in Time, but it’s not quite the hit we were all hoping it would be.
Watch the trailer for A Wrinkle in Time here, and let us know what you thought of the movie in the comments below!
Some movies should probably just stay un-filmable: 'A Wrinkle in Time' review4