Runtime: 109 minutes
Genre: Adventure – Family – Fantasy – Science Fiction
Theaters: February/March 2018
Amazon: NA/5 stars
Rotten Tomatoes Critics: 5.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Audience: 2.5/5
Metacritic Metascore: 52/100
Metacritic User Score: 2.9/10
Directed by: Ava DuVernay
Written by: Jennifer Lee, Jeff Stockwell (screenplay), Madeleine L’Engle (book)
Music by: Ramin Djawadi
Cast: Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Storm Reid, Levi Miller, Chris Pine
Film Locations: Eureka, Los Angeles, Santi Clarita – California – US; Hunter Valley, Wanaka – Otaga – New Zealand
Worldwide Take: $39,000,000 (Opening Weekend)
Dr. Murray (Pine), an astrophysicist, referred to as Mr. Murray for reasons not stated, tells an audience of his peers that he can transverse 93 billion light years in the wink of an eye using a concept called tessering. He is laughed off the stage. Later he disappears without a trace leaving his wife and two children adrift in the world without him. Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), youngest sibling of the two Dr. Murrays and a child prodigy, discovers the three Ws: Mrs. Which (Oprah), Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling); shape shifting, time travelers who are in search of a hero to save the universe. Charles Wallace introduces his socially inept sister, Meg (Storm Reid) to the Ws and they all convince her to be that hero; to search for her father and save the universe before the evil thing, It, destroys all that is light and good.
The movie is based on the Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 book A Wrinkle in Time, a children’s book that was rejected 26 times before eventually finding a publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. The book has been in continuous print ever since. The book, as with the movie, deals openly with evil while simultaneously equating Jesus with Buddha and other notable humans. Publishers felt these topics too heavy for children and too anti-Christian for adults. Later L’Engle hinted, because the hero was female, that misogyny also contributed to its multiple rejections. Elizabeth Bennett, Jane Eyre, Scott Finch, Dorothy Gale, Anna Karenina, Joe March, Lady Macbeth, and Natasha Rostova could not be reached for comment.
The director, Ava DuVernay, opened the movie with a brief comment on making the film and thanking the viewers for watching, almost begging them to like it. This was a tact that I have never experienced before, at least that I can remember (maybe Walt Disney did the same with his movies). At some level, I suspect, she was warning us that what was to follow was an absolute rotter. She has managed to make a movie where not one single thing clicks. It’s all strung together scenes with no audience connection, no avenues provided to bring the viewers into the movie. She gives us no reason to like this movie, just reasons to hope it ends soon. DuVernay along with the writers Lee and Stockwell seem to have a lot of ideas to make great movies but using them all in one film is probably not wise. The long drudgery of scene on the planet Uriel comes across as an excuse to film in 3D and imitate the 2009 film Avatar. Sorry, but James Cameron did it better. For a children’s movie the writing was childish. The Ws tell Meg that her faults are her strengths. Later Meg tries telling her brother that she is uncoordinated and we are supposed to believe that this is a strength that will conquer the big bad evil thing, It.
This is the first movie that a female director was given a $100 million for a budget. I’m sure it’s not the last big budget for a woman but hopefully its the last for DuVernay. As for Jennifer Lee it appears animation is where her talents are best utilized.
There is very little good to say about the acting. Oprah is thoroughly wooden throughout the movie and never quite figures out where to look when using the green screen. Mindy Kaling reads her lines with no delivery — sad. Meg has no ability beyond deer in the headlights wonder. Witherspoon was charming and excellent but not enough to cancel out the bad acting going on all around her. Zach Galifianakis, playing the Happy Medium, was also fun and he had the only line in the movie that made me laugh. He is lecturing Meg and she tells him he sounds like her mother. Galifianakis responds in all seriousness, “Why is she a baritone?”.
My family watched this movie together at a theater, which we very seldom do anymore; streaming at home is so much easier. With my wife and I were our 26 year-old daughter, 15 year-old son, and 3 year-old granddaughter. Not one of us 5 liked the movie. Not the kid, not the teenager, not the young adult, not us slightly older folks.
The granddaughter didn’t exactly say the movie was bad, she just didn’t watch it. While the movie was playing she found a better use of her time; passing out popcorn to the rest of us one kernel at a time. In the end I’m not sure who Disney made this movie for or why they wasted everyone’s time with it. Save your time and cherish your time, see something else with your precious time. I haven’t seen a movie this bad in long time.