Thursday, March 8, 2018

A Wrinkle in Time

I don't know if writing the original story required heavy doses of LSD, but I have a hard time believing that there wasn't some serious drug use putting this film together. Based on Madeleine L'Engle's 1962 novel of the same name, A Wrinkle in Time stars Storm Reid as troubled teenager who, along with her younger brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), heads of on a fantastical adventure with three total strangers (Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling) who inform the children that their missing father (Chris Pine) is alive, trapped in a far off world, and needs their help. Oh, and Meg's classmate (Levi Miller), who isn't really even a friend, comes along as well. Because why not?

The film's strengths lie in its overabundance of CGI and young stars. While somewhat emotionally empty, the settings which Meg finds herself in are visually appealing (even if it appears there's little actual thought put in to how things work). While the various adult actors appear to be having fun making a kid's film, all the emotional weight is left for Reid to shoulder. And McCabe succeeds in jumping from quirky to downright creepy when required.

The adults are mostly used for their star power here. I did enjoy both the more understated Pine and Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Meg's parents (although both earn far less screentime than Witherspoon and Zach Galifianakis mugging for the camera). A Wrinkle in Time isn't a bad film, but it really isn't a good one either. It lacks consistent tone, it has trouble keeping focus, jumps over and races through story points at times while getting bogged down in others, and has the feel of a made-for-TV or straight-to-video movie with an astounding budget. The film reminds me of both a less-engaging The Neverending Story in terms of a child lost on an adventure against a dark entity and a less-interesting Tomorrowland also about a teenage girl on a journey to a fantastical place. A Wrinkle in Time lacks the wonder of The Neverending Story. And while Tomorrowland has flaws of its own, in the end it's more successful and consistent than Disney's latest live-action feature.

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