Boundless creativity and imagination can almost salvage this unadaptable story.
It's not often that something that is deemed unadaptable is actually adapted. "A Wrinkle in Time" just happens to the be one of the books that was labeled as unadaptable and for good reason. The book was a story, that while visionary and imaginative, lacked an actual story. It was an interesting world that fascinated and captivated people allowing it to become the classic it is revered as today. These same problems plague Ava DuVernay's ambitious and imaginative adaptation no matter how much creativity she pours into each scene.
The biggest problem with this movie is that it has little to no coherent story. Events just kind of happen and unfold with little to no impact (with a few exceptions). There are themes of love and light vs. darkness but these can't fill the void that is left by the weak story. It just doesn't have the impact or power it should which is understandable due to the flimsiness of the source material. Often times these themes are pushed way too hard and led me to do some eye-rolling at the heavy-handedness with which they are presented.
It's also hampered by a pair of pretty grating performances from two of the child actors. Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) and Calvin (Levi Miller) become so (for lack of a better word) annoying and one-note as the film goes on. While their characters work in the book, they don't translate the screen at all. They became one of the most annoying things about this film, especially towards the end where it became dreadfully apparent that Charles Wallace really only has one tone and manner of acting. It's the kind of thing that truly makes you question child actors as a practice.
But let's move away from the bad and talk about the good in this film, which there definitely is. Firstly, the look of this film is dazzling. Bright and colorful planets are coupled with astounding makeup, hairstyling, and wigs to brilliant effect. It makes the film pop off the screen and imbued me with a sense of awe at points that these big, expensive blockbusters really should. There's also the performances from the rest of the actors. From newcomer Storm Reid (who plays Meg) to veterans like Oprah, Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, Michael Pena (sporting the best facial hair of the year), and Chris Pine they all give likable and charismatic performances that help bolster the film despite it's lacking script. It's a lot of fun to watch all these people, but the problem is that with the exception of Storm Reid every other good performance is relegated to a minimal amount of screen time.
Overall, this is a huge mixed bag. While it has some really fun moments and a weirdness that makes the proceedings just a joy to behold. The visuals and design that are just awe-inspiring in so many ways and prove that DuVernay truly is a visionary. But there's also the really annoying parts of this movie like the two kinds, the oppressive nature of the theme and how "love conquers all", the weird use of some songs, and the complete lack of story. I honestly can't say whether the good outweighs the bad or vice versa, in a weird way it's almost a perfect balance of bad and good things that make it an interesting, but a frustrating film to watch at points.
The biggest takeaway I got from this movie though is that DuVernay is a talent to be reckoned with and I'm incredibly excited to see what she does next. She is able to turn this potential disaster of a film into a semi-enjoyable and pretty admirable effort with sheer creativity and imagination. I hope she gets a better script and just as much money for her next film because that will be something truly special. [C]
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