A rankling, soporific ‘Wrinkle’
A family-friendly adventure that gradually descends to slumberland, the science fiction-fantasy flick “A Wrinkle in Time” scores points for minority visibility in a big-budget venture, but offers little else.
Based on the 1962 book of the same title, the film zeroes in on a family that’s still reeling from the disappearance of one of its members, until inexplicable beings with immense power make their presence known.
Meg (Storm Reid) is a bullied outcast in school, still wondering about the disappearance of her astrophysicist father, Alex (Chris Pine). His vanishing act four years ago is an unsolved puzzle to her mom, Kate (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), as well. But, one person who hasn’t lost hope is Kate’s brilliant young son, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe).
The boy welcomes a stranger to their house one night, the gaudily dressed Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), much to the annoyance of his mom and sister. The kooky lady, however, gives them a clue that all is not lost for Alex.
Other odd but powerful women eventually introduce themselves, the gigantic Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey) and the quote-giving Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), who offer their help in tracking down the missing relative. Charles Wallace, Meg and her friend Calvin (Levi Miller) are then “tessered”—a fancy word for instantly transported or teleported—to worlds beyond their imagination.
That’s the interesting part of the story, and it slowly rankles from there. Ava DuVernay’s film soon tests one’s suspension of disbelief, much like the way its young “warriors” are tested in trials involving strong wills and illusions.
It becomes a parade of effects-drenched images, cobbled up with treacly commentary about accepting flaws and accomplishing things with love—not bad messages, but they’re recited repetitively and snaps you out of what little disbelief you’re already having trouble suspending.
The trio of women, akin to fairy godmothers with adventurous costumes and makeup, is an attractive gathering, but when you see them, you can’t help but think that Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling are just playing dressup! They’re simply too associated with previous roles that they can’t just “disappear” into flashy, fantastic characters they don’t usually play.
As for Reid, she works as the struggling teen protagonist, aided nicely by her onscreen parents, Pine and Mbatha-Raw. Meanwhile, McCabe, undoubtedly a talented child actor, is cute at first, but soon becomes annoying and pesky. And Zach Galifianakis, as a supposedly wise immortal, is merely confusing.
Not exactly an excitement-filled sojourn, “A Wrinkle in Time” challenges you into seeing the whole thing through to the end—without falling asleep.
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