A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
The film world is all about taking risk, and while we always laud the risk-takers that triumph, we should also note those that failed, and encourage them to not give up; otherwise we would never have had Kubrick, Spielberg or Nolan.
A Wrinkle in Time is the second adaptation of the 1962 book, though the first to take it to the silver screen. The story follows Meg (Storm Reid) an ordinary girl who is suddenly taken through space and time by celestial beings (played by Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling) to help her find her father (Chris Pine) who has been missing for four years.
Ava DuVernay, who is arguably one of the most visionary directors working today, helms this film. Her previous works include the Matrin Luther King Jr. biopic Selma and the Unites States prison documentary 13th, the credit that DuVernay has been building up in Hollywood has finally landed her on the director’s chair of a blockbuster Disney movie. As talented as DuVernay is, however, she was simply pushed into a pool without knowing how to swim.
One big change for DuVernay was working with a big budget; she’s in charge of $103 million this time, not including marketing, and for many directors it takes some energy to make the jump from indies to nine digits. But DuVernay also had to work with child-actors for the first time, for many directors it takes years of working with child-actors in order to get competent performances out of them. And finally: the source material; there is a reason it’s taken so long to make a theatrical movie out of “A Wrinkle in Time”, it’s an incredibly complex and abstract story that would be incredibly hard to put on the screen be you a first-time director or Steven Spielberg. DuVernay tries to juggle these three frighteningly new concepts to her, and unfortunately, because of it, she doesn’t pull off a single one.
As for the film itself there were two big problems: the script and the acting. To adapt the complex novel for mainstream audiences the screenwriters decided to go simple and cheesy, and this caused for the entire film to feel like blunt exposition; even Chris Pine has a hard time trying to spew his lines in a convincing manner. As for the acting, the film leans heavily on child-actors and while there are certainly great young performers out there, there are none in this film. Being the core part of this film Storm Reid is too camera shy and one-note, meanwhile her interaction with the other two child-leads (Levi Miller and Deric McCabe) is cringe-worthy, they don’t know how to deliver a line or have any chemistry whatsoever, this was especially surprising as the characters are supposed to be love-interest and loving-brother respectively.
The subsequent failings of the film leads you to feel bored a simple ten minutes into the film, and the feeling doesn’t wear off no matter how spectacular the CGI might look. We commend DuVernay for taking a risk, but this film is an absolute bore from beginning to end; one can only hope that DuVernay learns from her mistakes and tries again.