There’s no doubt that A Wrinkle In Time is historic as director Ava DuVernay is the first black woman to direct a film with a budget of over $100 million.
That said, is the Disney space odyssey any good?
Most critics say “yes,” if you take the blockbuster for what it is: a bright, beautiful children’s movie that (for the most part) captured the magic of its source material.
Most reviewers felt that the plot was uneven, over-explained, and tonally in multiple galaxies at once. One critic even went as far to say the film felt more like a New Age self help book than an adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle‘s beloved sci-fi novel. Snap!
Angie Han, Mashable: “A Wrinkle in Time is for all the girls – and boys, and non-binary kids, and teens and adults and the elderly – who’ve ever been a Meg. It’s a flawed film that entreats us to love flawed things, up to and including our very own selves. Maybe that sounds like a hoary cliché now. It didn’t feel like one when I was watching the movie, which is so disarming[ly] earnest that I fell completely under its spell.”
A.O. Scott, The New York Times: “This is, unapologetically, a children’s movie, by turns gentle, thrilling and didactic, but missing the extra dimension of terror and wonder that would have transcended the genre. Thankfully, though, Ms. DuVernay has dispensed with the winking and cutesiness that are Hollywood’s preferred ways of pandering and condescending to grown-ups.”
Kevin Fallon, The Daily Beast: “It’s the rare live-action family film to feel like a bonafide kids’ movie, with all the trappings of a screenplay catered to that demographic — albeit one that can at times feel on-the-nose, or more didactic than wondrous. It’s a film with lots of Disney-sparkled bells and whistles. It’s also a film that is so pure, to the extent it’s almost jarring to take in given all that’s going on in the world and how jaded we’ve allowed entertainment to become.
, Fobes: “Its splashy cast all seem to be acting in slightly different movies, with few of them (among the children and adults) hitting the right tone for the admittedly challenging source material. Even with strong imagery and its value beyond profits or IP extension, it barely holds together as a stand-alone 109-minute feature.”
Darren Franich, Entertainment Weekly: “You feel some hesitation in the storytelling here. The three Mrs. W’s overexplain every wonder with PowerPoint precision. Anything they don’t explain gets covered by Pine, trapped in a series of horrid flashbacks, including one where he delivers an actual PowerPoint lecture about the film’s psycho-spiritual cosmology.”
Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter: “Only the faintest glimmers of genuine, earned emotion pierce through the layers of intense calculation that encumber Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time… 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.”
Peter Bebruge, Variety: “Despite such bold choices as casting Oprah Winfrey as an all-wise celestial being and rejecting the antiquated assumption that the lead characters ought to be white, 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.”
Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times: “Whisked alongside the characters through one space-time wormhole after another, I found myself wishing that this Wrinkle were more focused, more disciplined — that its ceaseless flow of fantastical images cohered into a revelatory new application of L’Engle’s themes and insights, rather than an earnest, sometimes awkward reiteration of them.
Matt Singer, ScreenCrush: “One scene bleeds into the next with little flow or tension; the kids are told they can’t jump (or ‘tesser’) to a specific location and then they immediately do it anyway; characters go missing and then return without explanation. And the whole time Calvin, Charles Wallace, and Mrs. Which constantly pepper Meg with compliments, reminding her that she is talented and brilliant and beautiful… They’re not wrong, and as a young woman of color, [Storm Reid]’s Meg is a refreshingly unusual protagonist for a studio blockbuster. Still, the affirmations are so heavy and so persistent (‘Love is the frequency!’) that it sometimes feels like A Wrinkle in Time is adapted from a New Age self-help book instead of a classic science-fiction novel.”
A Wrinkle in Time blasts into theaters Friday.
[Image via Disney.]
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