‘A Wrinkle In Time’ might end up going down as the most frustrating experience of the year for me. It’s a movie that is often wondrous to behold and then looks so cheesy that you have to wonder who was in charge of the scene with boulder balancing. It has sequences of such genuinely beautiful human emotion that I geared up twice, but also has the worst performances of Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon’s career. Which is not because they are necessarily bad in the roll, but the roll calls for ridiculous dialogue, silly costumes, and a giant Oprah that was very hard not to snicker at.
These contradictions fill out almost every aspect of this production. The film has a beautiful and manipulative score that fulfills its role. Yet, it is often hampered by poor choices of songs in moments that feel completely inappropriate. The movie has visual effects that dazzle, but also some green screen work that is alarmingly obvious. Then there is the combination of exceptionally edited sequences and an overall narrative that feels anti-climactic. That is, until the actors bring the emotion and the manipulative score does it’s brilliant work.
I just don’t know how to reconcile all the really good with the cringe worthy stuff. Ava DuVernay is an Oscar nominated filmmaker who’s films ‘Selma’ and ‘13th’ are some of the most important about movies about social justice this decade. She understands how to pull emotion out of her actors and she can shoot scenes of powerful dialogue in a way that perfectly accentuates the performances on screen. There is no shaking the fact that she is a fantastic filmmaker.
Yet, she is slightly out of her element in this film. She clearly articulated, in an intro to my screening, that she wanted to tap into her inner child and embrace the wonder of that feeling. She succeeds in this on a number of fronts, but the overall film is so messy that it’s impossible to fully recommend that someone pay to see this thing in the theater. It’s worth a rental and a glance for some of the beautiful scenes alone, but sitting through this thing again is certainly not something I want to do.
The story is about a scientist (Chris Pine) who believes he’s found the way to tap into a human beings potential to cross the cosmos. After he disappears for 4 years, his daughter is visited by some weirdly dressed women played by Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, and Oprah Winfrey. These women are apparently guides through the galaxy and are there to help the scientists daughter find her father. Which will stop a great evil called “the it” for some reason”.
All of this is really silly, but it’s also really important for kids to be excited by science. So, I can let some of the cheesy execution in this film slide. However, I can’t get over how prevalent all the faults really are. They just keep coming. Every time you think the movie is back on course, it slides off the track again. Which is just too bad, because there was an opportunity here for something special.