The latest from the director of Selma and 13th (and all around fantastic person to follow on Twitter) Ava DuVernay, in the form of a massive Disney release and a huge departure from her previous projects. After the disappearance of her scientist father (Chris Pine), three peculiar beings (Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling & Oprah Winfrey) send Meg (Storm Reid), her brother (Deric McCabe) and her friend (Levi Miller) to space in order to find him.
First things first, with this review coming several weeks after release and an abundance of very mixed others, the key recommendation would be to approach the film with an open mind, your experience of it will always be perfectly individual. Next, the cast front and centre for this film were utterly well picked, Reid’s Meg may not be overwhelming but for what was being asked of her with this sizable film and the pressure involved, she did an extremely impressive job. The trio of Witherspoon, Kaling and Winfrey are entirely pleasurable to watch interact on the big screen, playing off each other effortlessly but with the film being aimed at such a young age group, it does feel like it will go mostly under appreciated by its key audience; Witherspoon’s perfectly placed sarcasm is likely to be lost on the ears of this feature’s targets.
Another shame being the minimal requirement of Gugu Mbatha-Raw, an incredibly talented actress, hugely sympathetic and emotional on the screen and yet she’s resigned to the role of mother, one who is not particularly involved for most of the story; never giving her a real chance to show her skills. Then there’s Miller, a boy who looks like he could be his own waxwork and isn’t particularly more interesting, with a face that so distinctly lacks range that it’s difficult not to find his attempts fake, not unlike his performance as the titular character in the disaster that was Pan (has there been a film more a waste of Mr. Jackman’s talents, despite his ability to shine in anything?).
In spite of its rather outlandish and not entirely appealing trailer, tending to the more fantastical moments of the film, they respectably manage to keep it reigned in for the most part, luckily avoiding becoming something utterly ridiculous. The film also does have its emotional moments but it remains relatively empty for the most part; regardless it has a great message of self-acceptance and deserving to be loved for who you are, even if it does lack a more subtle way of putting it across than physically saying it out loud.
A Wrinkle in Time hands you a great cast with an important message to its story but there’s something mechanical about it; its lacking in genuine humour and the sadness of the story restricts itself from allowing a real sense of fun on the screen. Despite of anything else, it’s a joy to watch a strong female director taking on a story lead by a strong female character (although DuVernay may have a slightly biased lean towards the use of closeups) but it just doesn’t have enough to offer to get it where it needs to go. Regardless, give it a chance and you can still be entertained despite its faults.