Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Wrinkle in Time

★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

A Wrinkle in Time could've been great. It could've been a visually groundbreaking masterpiece. With the performances & visuals, it's about halfway there.

However, everything else about this film is a complete mess. Based on the 1962 classic novel by Madeleine L'Engle, the film follows Meg Murry (played by Storm Reid), a 13-year-old that is wise beyond her years. After the disappearance of her astrophysicist father, Dr. Alex Murry (played by Chris Pine), Meg has become more withdrawn & arrogant. Her & her mother, Kate (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw) believe that he went missing while looking for other worlds.

One night, Meg's younger brother, Charles Wallace (played by Deric McCabe), invites a woman named Mrs. Whatsit (played by Reese Witherspoon) into the house. She has information about Alex involving the tesseract, which he was working on for space travel. The next day, Meg, Charles Wallace, Mrs. Whatsit, & Meg's friend, Calvin (played by Levi Miller), travel to the house of Mrs. Who (played by Mindy Kaling), who only speaks in quotes.

Soon after, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, & Mrs. Which (played by Oprah Winfrey) appear in Meg's backyard, & "tesser" Meg, Charles Wallace, & Calvin onto the planet of Uriel, where Alex was seen. In Uriel's atmosphere, they find The IT, a dark entity representing all negative emotions that is set on world domination, guarded by Red (played by Michael Peña). Alex was captured by The IT. A meeting with The Happy Medium (played by Zach Galifianakis) reveals that Alex is trapped on the planet of Camazotz, The IT's homeworld. Now, Meg, Charles Wallace, Calvin, & the Mrs. Ws must save Alex before it's too late.

The cast is good. Reid is the best out of the cast, & I wouldn't be surprised if she becomes a big name someday. Winfrey, Pine, Witherspoon, & Kaling are good. Galifianakis seems out of place here, & McCabe's performance is what a child performance shouldn't be: clingy & annoying.

Ava DuVernay's direction is underwhelming. While DuVernay's ambition is great, & she does bring a great sense of wonder, the tone doesn't feel as powerful as it should be.

The screenplay by Jennifer Lee & Jeff Stockwell is a disaster. Although the novel has long been considered to be unfilmable, it doesn't excuse the fact that there are an absurd amount of plot holes that make the film so utterly confusing. However, it does have a good message.

Tobias A. Schliessler's cinematography is amazing. The color palette is very stunning & the camerawork is extremely grand.

Spencer Averick's editing is terrible. The film is horribly paced, making its 109-minute runtime feel like almost 3 hours. Also, there is some really frenetic editing here that is way overdoing it.

Naomi Shohan's production design is excellent. The places that the characters "tesser" to are so stunning & awe-inspiring.

And the visual effects are a mixed bag. Some of the effects are great, while some aren't so great. Also, the CGI tends to be way overused throughout the film.

This is a real disappointment. Although the performances & visuals are good, the direction, editing & screenplay really bog the film down. From a great director like Ava DuVernay, this feels like even more of a disappointment than it usually would.

A Wrinkle in Time was seen by me at the MJR Marketplace Digital Cinema 20 in Sterling Heights, MI on Friday, March 9, 2018. It is in theaters everywhere. Its runtime is 109 minutes, & it is rated PG for thematic elements & some peril.

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