Before the press screening of A Wrinkle in Time, our audience was shown a message from Director Ava DuVernay.
The director of the criminally Oscar snubbed Selma and 13th explained her enthusiasm for a film she made for her inner pre-teen self. DuVernay asked audiences to go along with her in this ride. To not look at A Wrinkle in Time as the latest stop in her coronation as Hollywood’s most acclaimed filmmaker, but one that allows her and viewers to just have fun.
Based on some critical reactions, they wanted A Wrinkle in Time to be something different. Something historic. Something that would forever change the face of fantasy movies. Maybe it’s the Black Panther effect? That’s where in the post-Black Panther world, black filmmakers have to make movies that are all things to all audiences. That’s not A Wrinkle in Time.
It’s more of a modern day Wizard of Oz. As much as I love Dorothy, Toto and the gang, that film didn’t exactly have some deep lesson either. It was more of an experience and exploration of the wonders of imagination on the big screen. That’s A Wrinkle in Time in a nutshell. And if you get that going in, you’ll be in store for one of the most amazingly creative films of this decade.
No, it’s not some cinematic game changer, but how many PG movies really change the movie landscape? This is for kids who didn’t get the thrill of watching The NeverEnding Story, The Princess Bride or The Dark Crystal in theaters. Where cell phones weren’t the lifeblood of human existence and anything was possible onscreen. The legacy for this film will likely be truly felt 10 to 15 years from now with the next generation of filmmakers learning it’s OK not to put restrictions on their imaginations.
Meg (Storm Reid, 12 Years a Slave) has been in a four-year funk. That’s how long it’s been since her scientist father (Chris Pine, Wonder Woman) mysteriously vanished. His disappearance weighs heavy on Meg and her mother (Gugu Mbatha-Raw, The Cloverfield Paradox). Meg has become despondent, more than a little depressed and not above lashing out at the school mean girl (Rowan Blanchard).
For Meg’s precocious little brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), their father is more of an idea than someone he clearly remembers. That doesn’t stop Charles Wallace from connecting with three magical beings Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) to help find their father. Clad in elaborate and ornate costumes, the three kind supernatural beings offer Meg, Charles Wallace and their friend Calvin (Levi Miller) a gateway to another realm and possibly find their father.
Reid is an engaging protagonist and she makes Meg’s hero journey equally compelling. I’ll never get tired of seeing diverse casts with leads that are often neglected. There’s one scene near the end where I was blown away that the fate of this universe came down to a black girl and a Filipino boy. Anyone who doesn’t understand the significance of that moment has never lacked for options where the heroes looked like them.
While Winfrey might be the biggest name attached to the film, she never takes over the film. Witherspoon gets a lot of funny scenes and Pine proves he’s able to make a genuine impact even in a limited role.
Occasionally, the script is hard to follow — the challenge of decompressing a book into a less than two-hour film. The first two Harry Potter films seemed to cram in every detail, which set up a solid foundation for better movies to come. Screenwriters Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell don’t have the luxury of pacing for a franchise however. Some aspects of Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 novel don’t translate as smoothly, but there’s timeless discussion points about self-identity, family and fear.
- This Is Us: This Big, Amazing, Beautiful Life review S2 E17
- The Flash: Enter Flashtime review S4 E15
- Marvel Legends Taskmaster figure review Build a Thanos wave
- DC Comics reviews for 3/7/18
DuVernay really showcases her creative side here. The scope of the film is breathtaking and DuVernay shoots in a way like a dream with no boundaries and an openness that looks like an imagination fully realized. I think it’s going to take a few viewings to fully appreciate everything, but on the first viewing, A Wrinkle in Time really drew me in.
This is a stunning film with vivid, gorgeous cinematography. I considered Black Panther the film to beat this year on that front, but Tobias A. Schliessler makes a strong case that this is the new frontrunner. The lighting choices in particular are mesmerizing and reminded me of Christopher Doyle’s brilliant work on the Jet-Li film Hero. This is one of those films that even when the script gets confusing, it’s easy to sit back and just appreciate how spectacular it looks.
A Wrinkle in Time might not be for everyone, but for those who can appreciate it for exactly what it is, they’re going to really enjoy one of the year’s most creative films.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures