The first reviews for Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time are now online. Directed by Selma‘s Ava DuVernay from a script by Frozen‘s Jennifer Lee and Bridge to Terabithia‘s Jeff Stockwell, A Wrinkle in Time is a live-action adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s iconic science fantasy novel of the same name that was first published in 1962. Disney acquired the rights to develop adapt the story after the success of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland in 2010 – and the project was first announced that following October.
According to the official synopsis, A Wrinkle in Time stars Storm Reid as Meg Murry, who embarks on a quest – with the help of Charles Wallace Murry (Deric McCabe) and Calvin O’Keefe (Levi Miller) – to find her father, Dr. Alex Murry (Chris Pine), after he goes missing four years prior. They are guided on their journey to save Alex Murry by Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling). A Wrinkle in Time is one of the most anticipated movies of the season because of its story and the people behind the project; it’s the first movie of its size (over $100 million budget) to be directed by a woman of color.
The review embargo for A Wrinkle in Time has now lifted, and the first reviews have flooded online. We’ve compiled SPOILER-FREE excerpts below (click on the corresponding links to read the reviews in full at the respective websites).
Variety – Peter Debruge – No score
Juggling so many extreme look changes it comes off feeling like a tacky interstellar fashion show at times, the film hops from one planet to the next too quickly for us to grow sufficiently attached to adolescent heroine Meg Murry (Storm Reid) or invested in her quest to find her missing father (Chris Pine), a scientist who disappeared four years earlier just as he thought he’d found a breakthrough means of traveling great distances through space via something called a tesseract. That term, like so much of the vocabulary in L’Engle’s book, asks children to reach beyond their reading level in order to follow a story that projects Meg from the comfort of her suburban backyard to worlds where entities feel and communicate in radically different ways — a mind-expanding invitation for empathy, if ever there was one.
The Wrap – Alonso Duralde – No score
“A Wrinkle in Time” is just weird and wonderful enough to generate a cult following, and it’s the kind of movie that the kids of 2018 are going to remember with genuine affection and wonder when they become the adults of 2035. (And how exciting to see a movie that makes science appealing to young audiences.) It’s an expensive art film for children — and that’s a good thing.
THR – Todd McCarthy – No score
Only the faintest glimmers of genuine, earned emotion pierce through the layers of intense calculation that encumber Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time. Disney’s lavish adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s fantastical 1962 book (there were four sequels) about a girl’s journey through multiple dimensions to find her long-missing father may provide enough distractions to keep kids in the lowest double-digits age range interested. All the same, DuVernay’s first big-budget studio studio extravaganza after breaking through with Selma and the great documentary 13th feels cobbled together with many diverse parts rather that coalesced into an engaging whole. Even if this is widely consumed by the target audience, it doesn’t charm or disarm.
IndieWire – David Ehrlich – C+
At a time when Disney would rather fund suffocatingly faithful (and/or toxically garish) “live-action” remakes of classic films than roll the dice on original stories for a new generation of kids, there’s something refreshing — and downright beautiful — about what Ava DuVernay has done with “A Wrinkle in Time.” Less satisfying than the recent “Pete’s Dragon,” but told with a similar degree of revisionist zeal, this eye-popping adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s beloved 1962 novel scrubs away the Christian overtones of the source material in favor of some distinctly 21st century humanism.
/Film – Josh Spiegel – 7.5/10
There are some scenes in A Wrinkle in Time that run the gamut of emotion, leaping from feeling transcendent to awkward to painful to fascinating in the span of a minute or two. The film is undeniably flawed and messy, but there is a strong, passionate sense of heartbreak at its core, and the underlying message of hope and love manages to be both corny and aspirational. For all of its heady ideas, A Wrinkle in Time succeeds emotionally. For all its flaws, it has a sterling lead performance, some unexpectedly resonant images, and an unerring sense of the woman behind the camera bringing this all to life. A Wrinkle in Time may be messy, but in a uniquely admirable way.
EW – Darren Franich – C
So A Wrinkle in Time hits that unfortunate un-sweet spot common to big-budget science-fiction/fantasy, where the spectacle feels more summarized than experienced. (Not helping much: Ramin Djawadi’s oddly terrible score, screaming emotions like an overgrown thought balloon covering up its own illustration.) Almost nothing works, but there are bursts of real camp energy. … So much to consider here: culture, race, Meg’s self-image, the brutal society challenging that image. Depressingly, A Wrinkle in Time has less in common with its spiky protagonist than her plastic doppelganger, flattened into familiar wonders, a sincere attempt at empowerment crushed into preachy dullness.
A Wrinkle in Time‘s reviews resemble are decidedly mixed, which seem to fall in-line with the movie’s first reactions. It seems virtually every critic agrees that the film has its ups and downs, with many focusing on its many misses. But overall, the movie was a wonderful adventure with beautiful designs and a strong message for all audiences. Frankly, that’s what Disney does best: deliver the right message. So, in that regard, DuVernay succeeded in her adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time.
Then again, the film may not be critically successful enough to justify an adaptation of L’Engle’s sequels, collectively known as the Time Quintet. A Wrinkle in Time hits theaters on Friday, March 9, and it is one of Disney’s first major movies of the year. While they’ve seen success with recent live-action adaptation of their classic animated films (of which many are based on previously written works), A Wrinkle in Time marks one of their most daring risks in recent years, so we’ll just have to wait and see if it was a wise decision… or not.
Source: Various (see links)
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