A Wrinkle in Time (2018) reviewed by Jonathan Berk

A Wrinkle in Time (2018) has some flaws, but I found the cast and the overall message the film is conveying is too strong to let said flaws bother me. Ava DuVernay brings beauty to the big screen in both the visuals and lessons that its characters learn. There are a few reasons I could see people not connecting with this film, but at a time when there is so much negativity and bullying going on, the optimism shining from this film is needed. Yeah, that is a current trend for me and my reaction to films: if a movie can express the idea of goodness while also keeping me engaged, it is probably going to win me over. It doesn’t take the Misses wisdom to decipher that.

A Wrinkle in Time sells the importance of self-confidence at a time it is needed most

Meg (Storm Reid) is viewed negatively by most of her peers, teachers, and, worst of all, herself. It’s been four years since her father (Chris Pine) vanished mysteriously, leaving her mother (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) to take care of Meg and her brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe). Charles Wallace is a bit weird, which only gets worse when he starts introducing his “friends” Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) to his family.

It’ll be easier to discuss the cast member that was the least impressive…McCabe is a bit on the annoying side. To be fair, it’s not that he does a bad job, as the character is supposed to be annoying (and is also very young). Nevertheless, he’s easily the least likable character in the film. Reid, Pine, Witherspoon, Kaling, and even the underutilized Mbatha-Raw are each very strong. So is Levi Miller, Oprah, Michael Peña, and, most surprising to me, Zach Galifianakis. Each brings something to the film that really emphasizes the message of the film.

Love is powerful. Loving oneself for who we are is even more powerful. It emboldens us and allows us to achieve when others wouldn’t even try. Reid embodies self-doubt at the beginning of the film and throughout much of the middle. Yet, when it’s time for her to deliver on the theme, she is able to do so convincingly. The confidence shows in her smile and her eyes when the film calls for it, and that is such a powerful component to her performance.

It seems this internal conflict is the primary conflict of the film could be where some people are disconnecting. The plot seems rushed if you look at the It as the primary bad guy. Embodied by a few different actors in the film, it really doesn’t take a big antagonist role other than through expositional dialogue; we’re told it’s evil.  However, the true struggle in the film, and in real life, is the internal one we fight with ourselves. It’s here that the film’s greatest strength may also be a big misfire for general audiences.

That said, the structure of the plot does ultimately feel like nothing really happens. Scenes move quickly from one to the next, with little struggle preventing that momentum. The set pieces seen in the trailer of the kids running from the big dust cloud, the suburban cul de sac, and the beautiful hillsides of flowers are all blips in the moderate runtime of the film. While they all offer interesting moments, they also feel uneventful; simply like the moments along a journey at an amusement park ride. The audience is on a tram, just passing by animatronic laden landscapes one after another until it’s time to get off the ride.

Final thoughts…

A Wrinkle in Time is a rare film where it feels an extra ten minutes or so could have benefitted it. However, there is enough in this film to make it extremely enjoyable and valuable, especially to a younger audience. I found the look of the film to gorgeous (despite looking like CG) and it brought a smile to my face many times. The film earns the Decent Watch rating.

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