By Mariana Carvajal-Munoz,
It is always a shame when a visually stunning film fails elsewhere.
Such is the case with Ava DuVernay’s “A Wrinkle In Time,” an adaptation of the classic fantasy novel by Madeleine L’Engle. The overall style of the movie is wonderful, but unfortunately, all the other elements fall flat and result in an underwhelming final product.
“A Wrinkle in Time” centers around Meg (Storm Reid), her brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) and her friend Calvin (Levi Miller), as they embark on a journey to a distant planet in search of Meg and Charles Wallace’s disappeared father (Chris Pine). They are guided by the mysterious Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey) and Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon).
Along the journey, the three children find themselves facing fantastic and dangerous obstacles, most notably ‘the It’, a disembodied evil presence that causes hatred and cruelty wherever it goes. They find that ‘the It’ is spreading rapidly, and their mission soon becomes twofold: rescue their father and stop ‘the It’.
Herein lies the main issue with “A Wrinkle in Time.” It tries very hard to battle too many different subjects. It spends very little time explaining the presence of ‘the It’ and thus fails to build an interesting quest to its destruction.
This, along with other topics like the search for Meg’s father Meg’s supposedly bad attitude (the movie only tells us she has a bad attitude, but she never seems to behave in this way) and the origins of the three Mrs. are all only shallowly explored.
The performances are also quite disappointing. The three Mrs. in particular fail to deliver. Witherspoon and Kaling are almost cartoon-like and Winfrey is pretty much just Oprah Winfrey but in space. Pine does well, though his character is quite secondary, and Reid makes a good effort, but overall, the acting is not as good as it ought to be.
DuVernay’s directing is quite a big let-down, particularly since she has proven herself to be very good with films like the 2014 biopic “Selma.” Perhaps she is not as skilled with fantasy or children’s films as she is with drama and period pieces.
DuVernay promises a film that will make us all feel like kids again, but the child in me was underwhelmed when she watched “A Wrinkle In Time.” The truth is that, when compared to similar films like “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” or “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” it is apparent just how unmemorable and clumsy “A Wrinkle In Time” really is.
Yes, the film is visually spectacular, but that is just not enough. DuVernay tried to do to much and ultimately bit off more than she could chew.