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Movie Breakdown: A Wrinkle In Time (Noah)

March 9, 2018


Pre-Screening Stance:

There was one trailer for this film, the first, that captured my imagination. Crazy visuals, a stunning angular musical choice and Ava Duvernay’s remarkable use of color and style made the film seem like it could capture, for a modern audience, the strange spiritual world of the original book. Nothing else has lived up to that, but I’m still hoping there might be something magical here.

Post-Screening Ramble:

I will say this: I’ve walked out of one movie in my life (Rob Reiner’s North) and it isn’t a practice I appreciate or believe in. But as it turns out, A Wrinkle In Time was my second movie. And I’d like you to know that before reading this review – I only made it 40 interminable minutes into Ava Duvernay’s enormously expensive misstep before grabbing my friend and heading for the door. If this bothers you, I get it, it bothers me too and you can walk away without reading a single other word only knowing that this reviewer found so little to grab on to this film it pushed them right out the door. Go, have your own opinion. For those who can stomach a review from an incomplete viewing, please let me explain why. From the first tightly cropped frames of Duvernay’s adaptation of Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time, something seems off. The dialogue is borderline pap – Chris Pine’s gooey soliloquy to his daughter, Storm Reid – and the cinematography (one of the strongest bits of the director’s amazing Selma) is claustrophobic, overly color-corrected and warm to the point of disbelief. The film only goes downhill from here. Meg (Storm Reid) is in middle school, her father (Chris Pine), a theoretical scientist, has been missing for four years and she’s turned from a promising stand-out to an unpleasant troublemaker. Her adopted brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) is a bubbling, fist-shaking seven year old standing up to defend her at every point. Then, 20-foot Oprah and gee-shucks-aren’t-I-the-new-weird-god-creature Reese Witherspoon show up to whisk the siblings, and moon-eyed sycophant Calvin (Levi Miller), into a world of magic and mystery in search of Meg’s dad. There wasn’t a moment of footage that I saw that felt believable. The other-dimensional stuff is so brightly colored and forcefully computerized that there’s nothing genuine about what you’re watching. This movie wants to be sentimentally real, but every thing about it feels fake. Mindy Kaling has one of the worst roles of anyone’s career – a quote (and platitude) spewing witch lady who turns even the the scenes that edge towards bearable into cringe-worthy crud. I left as a make-up sporting Zach¬†Galifianakis taught balance to the collected group of obnoxious wizard people and doe-eyed children. I couldn’t handle the lack of craftsmanship, the overbearing sentimentalism, nor a single line from any of the actors. I’ve read a few reviews since then, some positive, some espousing on the “solid sincerity” of the film, but nothing will change my mind: A Wrinkle In Time is, sadly, an unmitigated disaster.

One Last Thought:

Before the screening Ava Duvernay came on screen to properly prepare the audience for what they were about to view. It was a long, well-articulated plea that audience members tap into their inner child to best embody what her intentions were. After fleeing at the midway point, the lengthy explanation played like an apology, or a director who knew she’d done poorly trying to give some reason why her film might work.

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