In Brief: Too much time. Not enough wrinkles.
First. Not to brag, while I may have missed the best of the best picture prediction where The Shape of Water tops Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, I am right about the Academy Awards telecast. This year’s edition had the lowest viewer numbers in history at 25.6 million. That’s a 19-percent drop from last year’s 32.9 million.
I believe my prediction of people tired of political rants is a big reason why.
No onto our purpose here. It’s A Wrinkle in Time. A difficult movie to define. Too much time and not enough wrinkles? Or we could say the plot wrinkles about time like all fabrics — and time is often referred to scientifically as fabric — needs some ironing.
Since ironing straightens things out, this one needs lots and lots of ironing.
Chris Pine is Mr. Murray. He and wife, Mrs. Murray done by Gugu MBatha-Raw are physicists. He has this theory that you can wrinkle time and go clear across the universe to another plant by just using your mind. Laughable is how his colleagues address his theory.
And then he disappears.
It’s four years later and the disappearance has devastated the family. This is especially true of his daughter Meg. She’s become a pariah at school and is on a super downer. Little brother Charles Wallace is just the opposite and personifies upbeat.
Plus, he’s a geniuses genius.
Charles Wallace introduces Meg and classmate Calvin to Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which who are beings who used to be stars. Not movie stars. Actual stars. You know, like the ones shining in the night sky. They gave up that glory to battle the Black Thing. It is ultimate evil and is holding Mr. Murray hostage on a planet that succumbed to its terror.
Apparently planets have that choice.
To find clues as to the location of Mr. Murray, the three beings transport the kids via some really cool effects to other planets and places. The trip leads to expected dilemmas and since it’s rated PG, the positive conclusion.
Too much positive is what is most wrong with this movie. It bathes — no, make that wallows — in positives.
Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling play the three mystical beings and kid actors Storm Reid, Levi Miller and Deric McCabe and Zach Galifiankis and Michael Pena round out the cast.
Even being nice, the best thing I can say about the acting in A Wrinkle in Time is that it’s awful. It’s actually worse but since the rating is PG, I’ll dial my criticism back. While her bad acting won’t impact — just kidding here — Oprah’s upcoming presidential campaign, she and her co-stars do their lines with zero enthusiasm. It’s almost like their rehearsal shots were left in the movie instead of the best takes.
Their lines are delivered with all the sincerity of a cranky store clerk telling you to have a nice day.
Director Ava DuVernay (Selma) says her goal is to have you — if you’re an adult — reach back to that inner child and remember what it was like being 12. Why would I want to do that? It was hard enough being 12 and not something many of us want to remember.
Plus, the age most of us are at now is also no piece of cake.
To be fair, I did ask my 12-year old self if he wanted to see the movie. He did not. That left the me at my age now to watch A Wrinkle in Time and the me now hated it.
As for 12 year old kids? Maybe they’ll will like it because of the simple plot. New-Age pontifications are piled on and there are a bunch of statements about how special each person is to the universe. Okay, we’re all special.
So what? Most 12-year olds have been told that since they were like born.
Here’s an oddity. The book is Christian-based much like C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe yet all of the famous biblical quotes author Madeleine L’Engle put in her book are left out. In fact, at one point Mrs. Which talks about Meg being the rare person filled with light. They are rare with our species and only come along once in awhile. Then she proceeds to list all kinds of people who’ve profoundly impacted humanity and leaves out Jesus.
To the film’s credit, it does have one of the most profound observations of the purpose of our lives I’ve ever heard or seen. Mrs. Which tells an unworthy feeling Meg that millions and millions of decisions were made in the past to make her who she is and that places her where she is today.
The plot is so lame and the acting so poor that I was, at that point, able to sit back and enjoy the fabulous effects and ponder the depth of that statement. That’s the problem with A Wrinkle in Time’s lack of wrinkles. It’s all about the effects. I caught it on an IMAX screen but not in 3D. Too bad, if any movie I’ve ever seen deserves a 3D experience it is this one.
Unfortunately, the effects are the — emphasis here — only reason to see A Wrinkle in Time. At it takes me back to my opening statement. Too much time. Not enough wrinkles.
Director: Ava DuVernay
Stars: Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Levi Miller, Deric McCabe, Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Pena
So much potential unrealized. The trailer looks spectacular but the movie is a total bust. Not sure even kids will care that much about this one. Give it a 1 on the Average Joe Movie 0 to 5 scale.
5 to 4 1/2: Must see on the big screen.
4 to 3 1/2: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 to 2 1/2: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 to 1: Don’t bother.
0:Speaks for itself.
Gary Wolcott has been a movie consultant for KXL since 2014. A lifelong fan of film, he’s been a film critic in radio, television and newspaper for 28-years. Wolcott catches a couple of hundred movies a year and he sees a great many of them so you don’t have to.
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