At one point in Ava DeVernay's A Wrinkle in Time, a giant Oprah Winfrey (playing Mrs. Which) steps out behind a suburban house, wearing sparkling gray lipstick and sporting a wildly unkempt hairdo. This moment was meant to elicit awe and spectacle. I sat there and laughed.
Welcome to a movie that should have stayed inside the book.
What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is a lame attempt at transcribing the whimsical elements of a classic novel with so much fantasy in it that it's a workout to not roll your eyes during the overlong running time.
Meg (Storm Reid, capable of a couple emotions) is a sad teenager who misses her father (Chris Pine), a brilliant scientist who tried to "touch the stars" and got lost instead four years ago. When her little brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McGabe) brings home the mystical (or delirious) Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon, going through the motions) and takes her to see the historical quote machine, Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), Meg starts to realize that her father may still be alive. Cue the giant Oprah and the search through the galaxy. Light battling dark and fairy tales and stuff with wrinkles being created for safe passage between portals. Are you tired yet?
This is a movie that may even bore the kids. It's loaded with loads of exposition and backstory early on, and the visuals are grandiose at first before becoming tiring to absorb. The adults should pocket a tiny bottle of Cabernet or whiskey bottle in order to see the end of the movie, which isn't hard to tell from the 20-minute mark.
The actors aren't bad, but fail to lift the material. Think about Bill Condon's live action version of The Beauty and The Beast. He brought a familiar tale with a legendary animated take to life with a fresh look, wonderful acting, and a world that didn't look as if it were created on someone's computer screen. DeVernay, working from a script by Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell (who adapted the material from Madeleine L'Engel's famous books), fail to add a signature touch to the material or make it feel new.
This must have been an Oprah project or a passion project for DeVernay, who impressed with the historically powerful drama, Selma. Something tells me this film was lost the minute it wrapped. Once they were in the editing room, the inadequate cinematic elements were fairly visible to the naked eye.
Look, there were two scenes towards the end of this film that should have been moving and stirred something inside of me. They instead did nothing for me except make me check my phone for the time. When a story like A Wrinkle in Time doesn't warm you up, there are two realities: you're either cold-blooded or it didn't convince. I just cried during the opening of Up again last week, so I'm going with the latter.
A Wrinkle in Time probably looked like a good idea on paper with a few stars attached, but the finished product is a loud mess of a flick. I'd skip it and read the book instead.