Reviewer wrecks ‘Wrinkle in Time’



The film adaption of “A Wrinkle in Time” is directed by Ava DuVernay featuring an all star cast. It has a 41 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

CLINTON OLSASKY, Executive Editor | [email protected]

You know that feeling you get when your mega-smart astrophysicist father disappears for years at a time while studying the mysteries of the universe, only for you to be guided to his extra-dimensional location by three mystical travelers, one of whom inexplicably morphs into a giant spinach leaf?

If your answer to that question is “no,” then you’re not alone. While watching “A Wrinkle in Time,” the latest big-budget blockbuster put forth by Walt Disney Pictures, it was all I could do not to yell out at the screen in frustration as a result of the sheer incoherence on display.

To put it simply, I have rarely felt as utterly disconnected to a film as I did while watching “A Wrinkle in Time.”

Directing: 2/5

It’s a shame that “A Wrinkle in Time” is such a visual mess, given that its director, Ava DuVernay, had previously impressed with the critically acclaimed historical drama “Selma” and the award-wining documentary “13th.”

All told, DuVernay simply relies too heavily on CGI to depict the multi-dimensional landscape of “A Wrinkle in Time.” Everything from the terrain to even the characters’ wardrobe appears distractingly synthetic and artificial.

In addition, beyond a handful of visually impressive camera movements, DuVernay’s direction is largely muddled. Instead of framing her subjects with the grace and sensitivity she exhibited in her past films, DuVernay’s work in “A Wrinkle in Time” suffers from an overabundance of nonsensical cutting and unmotivated close-ups.

Still, some praise should be directed towards the film’s creative set design, which is admittedly eye-catching at times. Unfortunately, DuVernay’s jumbled direction and overreliance on CGI ultimately detracts from the film’s ability to impress visually.

Writing: 1/5

Despite DuVernay’s weak direction, “A Wrinkle in Time” undoubtedly suffers the most from its frustratingly disjointed screenplay. The film’s script, which was adapted by Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell from Madeleine L’Engle’s popular novel, is riddled with plot holes and populated with a mess of thinly drawn caricatures.

In a nutshell, the story of “A Wrinkle in Time” centers on Meg Murry, a young girl searching for her missing father, who is a renowned scientist. Along the way, she is aided by the help of three magical beings who lead her and her brother across the universe to find the long-lost Dr. Murry.

Now, given the nature of the source material, DuVernay and company could have easily focused in on Meg and her relationship with her father, which could have resulted in a touching familial drama set against a unique science fiction backdrop.

In the end, though, the film opts for style over substance, offering little in the way of meaningful character motivation or emotional investment.

As a result, not one character in “A Wrinkle in Time” comes across as a fully realized human being. Instead, they merely serve as vehicles for DuVernay to use to jump from one poorly executed set piece to the next.

Acting: 2/5

Sadly, the film’s painfully one-dimensional screenplay is equally matched by an array of similarly one-note performances.

Even the inimitable Oprah Winfrey is curiously uninspiring as Mrs. Which, the leader of the three astral travelers who aid young Meg. Perhaps it can be attributed to the screenplay’s inauthentic dialogue, but Winfrey’s character did little more than regurgitate the most derivative and hackneyed of motivational phrases — not unlike what one would find in a cheaply produced fortune cookie.

Likewise, both Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling were nauseatingly dull as Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Who, respectively. Neither character offered anything memorable to the film, notwithstanding Witherspoon’s aforementioned metamorphosis into a giant piece of leafy produce. But lettuce digress.

Next, we come to the child actors in the film, who fared admittedly better overall.

In his deceptively clever performance as Meg’s prodigious little brother Charles Wallace, Deric McCabe was still hampered by a tendency to overact — a common symptom among many child actors.

Levi Miller, on the other hand, was simply horrendous as Calvin O’Keefe, a boy in Meg’s class who joins her on her cosmological journey. Miller’s character sorely lacked a personality, as well as a perceivable reason to even be in the film, other than to serve as the catalyst for a baffling and, frankly, uncomfortable romantic subplot for the adolescent Meg.

As for Meg herself, Storm Reid turned in a commendable performance as the young heroine. It was apparent that despite such a poorly conceived screenplay, Reid really tried her best to bring her one-dimensional character to life.

Overall: 1.5/5

Between the muddled direction, insipid screenplay and flat acting, Disney’s latest big-budget literary adaptation is a considerable misfire that fails to inspire or even entertain.

And as a result, “A Wrinkle in Time” is a massive waste of just that — time.