A Wrinkle in Time – movie review

by James Robins / 24 April, 2018
RelatedArticlesModule - Wrinkle in Time movie

Reese was in a toga; Oprah 6m tall. No idea what happened in A Wrinkle of Time.

Ava DuVernay’s attempt to adapt Madeleine L’Engle’s treasured 1962 children’s novel A Wrinkle in Time has the best of intentions. A fable with sound morals at its heart, it seeks to empower boys and girls who have been left under-represented in movies aimed at children.

A film’s intentions, however, do not count for much if the basic supporting structure – plot, pacing, character – are so messy as to make the finished product incomprehensible.

The story (as far as it makes sense) centres on Meg Murray (Storm Reid), a disaffected teenager bullied at school and mourning her father (Chris Pine), who disappeared into the ether while proclaiming to have unlocked the secrets of the universe.

Then, a spoof of Macbeth’s witches show up: Reese Witherspoon dressed in university toga party attire; Mindy Kaling spouting scholarly references, and the Queen of the World, Oprah herself (no need for metaphor here: she’s about 6m tall, with sequins in her eyebrows).

But why? What’s it all for? They mutter some stuff about “tessering” and warp to a planet with sentient flowers, and Zach Galifianakis appears as an incompetent zen master, all in the name of defeating a spectral evil. By the time Witherspoon transforms into a flying cabbage, the question is hardly worth asking. If this seems baffling to an adult, it’ll be baffling to kids as well.

The only saving grace is Reid, whose maturity and charisma are our guide to how we’re supposed to feel about, well, anything at all. Oh, and there is South Island scenery.

DuVernay made her name with stories grounded firmly in a sense of time and place: the Civil Rights drama Selma and the documentary 13th. Here, Disney gave her the keys to the kingdom – or at least the keys to the special effects suite – and faced with so much possibility, she got a little lost in space.

Video: Disney Movie Trailers

IN CINEMAS NOW

★★

This article was first published in the April 28, 2018 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

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