March 23, 2018

A Wrinkle In Time With Jennifer Lee

12 March 2018, 02:22 | Max Haynes

'A Wrinkle In Time' is a kid flick worth watching; but it's not what you're expecting

'A Wrinkle in Time': Visually spectacular but not wrinkle-free

Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) and Mrs. The shots of Winfrey, Witherspoon and Kaling in a wheat field, isolated figures on the horizon, recall some of the better images from Stanley Donen's 1974 film version (a controversial one) of "The Little Prince".

They beam down to Earth from some other dimension to aid our 13-year-old heroine (Storm Reid), much like Hagrid takes Harry Potter to Hogwarts and Glinda the Good Witch gives Dorothy yellow-bricked marching orders in Oz.

Do we say they're away at school?

Leaving aside the emotional angle, there's enough on the technical side of the way that A Wrinkle in Time was put together that suggests more than a functionary behind the camera. When the Mrses depart, they leave behind shimmering altruism and narrow insight.

A Wrinkle in Time, the new film based on the Madeleine L'Engle novel, doesn't quite feel like the other movies that make up the yearly slate for Walt Disney Pictures.

If there is an extra-textual throughline to A Wrinkle in Time, it's embodied in elements like the camerawork: there are clear, active decisions occurring behind the lens here, in ways that are rarely evident in big-budget fare. Judy Blume did her best, but I largely stopped reading about girls I wanted to be and started reading books about young women I thought I should want to be. Brinkwirehad a chance to ask screenwriter Jennifer Lee about the decision to cut them from the movie during a press event in Los Angeles.

However, following the ridicule and scorn of the scientific community when they present their findings, Alex takes matters into his own hands to actually test the calculations and ends up tessering across the universe in a split second of time.

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The budget for A Wrinkle in Time was over a 100 million, and it shows, but not only in the CGI and special effects, although those, of course, are incredibly well done. And while the visuals are spectacular, DuVernay's treatment feels too clinical, leaving out the sense of wonder and discovery that should accompany such a film.

That's when the topic turned to director Ava DuVernay.

"Most scenes are dominated by far too much cutting". Even when working with a major studio and a major property, she has made a movie that's completely her own, flaws and all.

The film depicts Meg as brilliant, but terribly hurt due to her NASA scientist dad (played by Chris Pine) having gone missing for four years, while school, and life in general, sucks. Characters zip from one planet to the next with little connective tissue, and we must accept each narrative jolt at face value. I try to say, 'It's just right now'. This leaves a scar on the family, especially on her and her mother (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw). Can't complain. "Scandal" veteran Bellamy Young popping up as a robotic Stepford wife in a dystopian cul-de-sac? Michael Peña portraying a red-eyed charmer who hypnotizes Charles Wallace so that he becomes a mouthpiece for The It?

And so it goes, one flashy sequence after the next.

This is how L'Engle described a free-will sort of life, in the novel she began in 1959. But the limited cohesiveness only underscores how cloying its messaging can be.

Storm Reid's performance as protagonist Meg Murray, a sullen and rebellious teenager, is great, but Meg's overwhelming reserve also makes the first two-thirds of the movie a bit of a pain to watch.

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