Unfortunately for moviegoers both young and old, the early reviews for Disney's A Wrinkle in Time are far nastier than expected. It's actually the second live-action take on Madeleine L'Engle's beloved fantasy novel, as the award-winning book was previously adapted into a made-for-TV ABC movie back in 2003. This latest adaptation won't be so easily forgotten, however. It's already gained quite a bit of notoriety for being the first live-action film with a $100 million dollar budget to be directed by a woman of color. Filmmaker Ava DuVernay ranks among the most promising up-and-coming talents in Hollywood, having previously helmed Oscar-nominated films Selma and 13th. Couple that with all the talent A Wrinkle in Time has going for it in front of the camera (Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Chris Pine headline a star-studded cast), and the new adaptation seemed primed to become the next big thing in cinemas.
But then folks actually got a look at it. Early reactions to A Wrinkle in Time were surprisingly mixed, and the first wave of reviews were even worse. Despite all the supporters DuVernay's film has in its corner, there's no getting around the fact that the movie itself is a bit of a mess.
We should point out that we usually reserve these brutal review roundups for films that have been universally panned by critics (or close to it), and that isn't quite the case for A Wrinkle in Time. The movie currently sports a 42% rating over on Rotten Tomatoes based on 78 reviews, indicating a mixed to negative reaction overall. But when big-budget adaptations of beloved novels fall this far short of expectations, hard truths need to be faced. Buckle up for a bevy of attacks on poor CGI, glaring plot holes, and missed themes from the source material as we check out The Most Brutal Reviews Of A Wrinkle In Time.
How bad is A Wrinkle in Time? It's so bad even Oprah Winfrey, Queen of the Universe, playing the Queen of the Universe, couldn't save this cinematic disaster of epic proportions ... The Guides are meant to be at funny at times, and fail miserably in that regard. They provide the story with enough self-serious and pretentious New Age "philosophy" and other spiritual mumbo jumbo as to make one nauseous. The movie drinks its own Kool-Aid. It is saturated with self-importance. The entire film is sorely lacking in any sense of humor or wit. It plods like an elephant through its inexplicable and hard to follow story line, audience be damned ... Wrinkle could be unfavorably compared to the Wizard of Oz - lacking its charm, humor and clever characters. It will stain the careers of all those involved. Years from now a college course will be taught on what went wrong with this $100 million-dollar movie. In that sense, it is an iconic film. Like Heaven's Gate or Ishtar. -- Cleveland Plain Dealer
The film has the feel of an iPad video pawned off on a toddler so Dad can make comforting mac and cheese – here’s a bite-sized lesson about loving yourself and a jumble of pretty colors. -- Guardian (UK)
Surely there must be something positive to say about the production, but thoughts of an Attack of the 50-foot Oprah sequel notwithstanding, calling this an incomprehensible mess would be a compliment. Add to this the frustration brought on by sound effects that drown out crucial dialog passages, and the only thing you’ll take away from the experience is a wrinkle in your ass. -- San Diego Reader
...a crushing wave of eye-candy and mediocre technique. Considering the changes that were made to the story and the schmaltzy platitudes liberally spooned out by screenwriter Jennifer Lee, one gets the feeling that she and the director either didn’t fully grasp the material or didn’t think the audience could. To make matters worse, it’s hobbled by some surprisingly bad film-making choices. The CGI and production design are shockingly bland ... Almost every scene is so saturated with clumsily delivered ‘believe in yourself’ mantras that it becomes monotonous, meaningless and even creepy. -- Dark Horizons
Barely coherent, overburdened with unimpressive special effects and hobbled by unremittingly bad acting, it will confound and bore children and adults in equal measure ... the narrative is presented in such a careless, chaotic fashion that it’s impossible to make much sense of what’s happening ... A Wrinkle in Time is a waste of yours. -- One Guy's Opinion
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 ... 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. -- Entertainment Weekly
DuVernay fails utterly in her search for urgency in this story and cannot concoct a threat any more palpable than the “darkness” of which Mrs. Which speaks. The director loses herself in static conversation scenes and extreme close-ups of her beautiful players. That’s soap opera/TV movie camera work and no, that’s not a compliment. The “Hero’s (heroine’s) Journey” quest takes a back seat, when it’s given any seat at all. The heroine? Meh. Jake Lloyd with curls. -- Movie Nation
A Wrinkle in Time is wildly uneven, weirdly suspenseless and tonally all over the place, relying on wall-to-wall music to supply the missing emotional connection and trowel over huge plot holes. -- Variety
The scenes just drag on and seem to marvel at its special effects — which aren't that strong to begin with — instead of moving the story forward. At times the movie's dramatic moments have the feeling of a cheesy Hallmark Channel movie rather than something that came from the most powerful movie studio in Hollywood. -- Business Insider
...a bad children's version of a Marvel movie sprinkled with Narnia dust. It's about as deep as knock knock joke, introducing ideas it does little if anything to explore. -- Reeling Reviews