A Wrinkle in Time is the long-awaited cinema adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s1962 children’s sci fi fantasy novel. As director Ava DuVernay emphasised in a pre-movie address, the film is aimed at tweens and focused on their interests and concerns: identity confusion, bullies, first romance, the desire to see magic enter their dull suburban lives and the belief that their personal problems deserve to be elevated to universal, earth-shattering significance. Unfortunately, this confusing and dull film fails to address these themes with anything resembling the insight, wit and inventiveness of really good teen and tween-oriented films such as the Harry Potter movies.
Storm Reid plays Meg, a smart but allegedly troublesome teen who has become sullen and withdrawn since her scientist father’s (Chris Pine) disappearance four years ago. She and her slightly creepy little brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) and would-be boyfriend Calvin (Aussie Levi Miller) suddenly find their lives transformed when three fairy god mother-like women: Mrs Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), Mrs Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs Witch (Oprah Winfrey) appear in the backyard of Meg’s home and after a largely non-sensical explanation of Meg’s father’s possible whereabouts, spirit the three youngsters to their planet. There, the three kids encounter lots of garishly coloured landscapes, questionable CGI and some cat poster philosophies as they search for the Professor.
While the film’s goals of encouraging acceptance, compassion, adventurousness and empowerment in the young are undeniably worthy, it’s unfortunate these ideas are presented in such a cheesy and unconvincing fashion. The film resembles an elaborate panto with clunky dialogue and mostly silly fantasy characters in ridiculous costumes; Oprah looks as if she’s a member of Roy Wood’s band Wizzard. The film occasionally strikes an emotional chord as it touches on the impact on the world of the human mind’s darker side but it doesn’t explore these sorts of ideas in enough depth. Disturbingly, with its over-the-top colour scheme and cringeworthy philosophising, the film recalls the lamentable Robin Williams fantasy What Dreams May Come.
The young cast do a reasonable job given the questionable material but their characters are hardly memorable and are unlikely to become pop culture icons like Harry, Ron and Hermione. The adult cast hardly distinguish themselves although Reese Witherspoon brings some of her typically endearing sparkle to the film.
Unfortunately, A Wrinkle in Time is more Mortal Instruments than Harry Potter.
Nick’s rating: **
Genre: Fantasy/ Sci-fi.
Director(s): Ava DuVernay.
Release date: 29th Mar 2018.
Running time: 109 mins.
Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM. Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. http://subcultureentertainment.com/2014/02/the-good-the-bad-the-ugly-film-show