Director: Ava DuVernay
Cast: Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Peňa, Storm Reid, Zach Galifianakis, Chris Pine
Runtime: 1 hr 55 mins
Released By: The Walt Disney Company
Official Website: https://www.facebook.com/WrinkleinTimeMovie/
Opening Day: 8 March 2018
Synopsis: From visionary director Ava DuVernay comes Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” an epic adventure based on Madeleine L’Engle’s timeless classic which takes audiences across dimensions of time and space, examining the nature of darkness versus light and, ultimately, the triumph of love. Through one girl’s transformative journey led by three celestial guides, we discover that strength comes from embracing one’s individuality and that the best way to triumph over fear is to travel by one’s own light. Meg Murry is a typical middle school student struggling with issues of self-worth who just wants to fit in. The daughter of two world-renowned physicists, she is intelligent and uniquely gifted, as is Meg’s younger brother, Charles Wallace, but she has yet to realize it for herself. Complicating matters is the mysterious disappearance of Mr. Murry, which has left Meg devastated and her mother broken-hearted. Charles Wallace introduces Meg and her fellow classmate Calvin to three celestial beings (Mrs. Which, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Who) who have journeyed to Earth to help search for their father, and together they embark on their formidable quest. Travelling via a wrinkling of time and space known as tessering, they are transported to worlds beyond their imagination where they must confront a powerful evil force. To make it back home to Earth, Meg must face the darkness within herself in order to harness the strength necessary to defeat the darkness rapidly enveloping the Universe.
Oprah Winfrey wears a cage-like outfit, has glittery eyebrows and is a towering figure in Ava DuVernay’s film based on the award-winning novel A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. She plays Mrs Which, one of the three celestial guides in the story. It would be rude to laugh at how silly Winfrey looks – simply because the “Queen of All Media” is a very well-respected figure who has been an inspiration to many people for being someone constantly focusing on self-improvement and spirituality.
Instead of sniggering, you are awed by her shimmering look whenever she appears on screen. It also helps that Mrs Which has some of the most quote-worthy lines. “The only thing faster than light is the darkness,” she says in a sagely tone.
The protagonist of the the science fantasy story published in 1962 is 13-year-old Meg Murry, whose father has been missing for four years. The mysterious incident happened just as the scientist made a breakthrough discovery of travelling across space via something called a tesseract (yes, we have no idea what it exactly is either).
A series of events leads Meg to an adventure to rescue her missing father, with the help of Mrs Which and her fellow otherworldly beings Mrs Who and Mrs Whatsit. The team is also made up of Meg’s chatty younger brother and earnest male schoolmate (read: love interest). With Disney backing this movie, you can expect a happy ending with the young characters learning precious lessons that will prepare them for the hard-knock life ahead.
Remember how Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther gained worldwide attention for being a culturally-significant? Here, we have DuVernay (Selma) who will be remembered for being the first black woman to direct a live-action blockbuster with a nine-digit budget of more than $100 million.
Get ready as lush greenery, colourful flowers and magnificent skies enchant you, while creepy antagonists, weird universes and intimating tentacles send shivers down your spine.
It is without a doubt that you will be mesmerised by the wondrous landscapes visualised by the filmmakers. Thanks to CGI effects, everything looks stunningly gorgeous on the big screen.
The actors in the star-studded ensemble almost become secondary. Reese Witherspoon (Sing) and Mindy Kaling (Inside Out) join Winfrey as Mrs Whatsit and Mrs Which, creating an impression with their elaborate costumes, heavy makeup and big hairdos. Elsewhere, Zach Galifianakis (The Lego Batman Movie) plays the doped Happy Medium, Michael Peña (The Lego Ninjago Movie) literally falls apart as a strange character named Red, while Chris Pine (Wonder Woman) grows a beard to become a genius scientist.
The real stars of the movie are the kids. Storm Reid may be 14 years old, but she has enough charisma to hold the show together as Meg. Her male co-stars Deric McCabe and Levi Miller are also likeable as the adorable younger brother and the understanding friend.
However, there is a nagging feeling that the project is over-ambitious for its own good. It is evident that there are positive takeaways for audiences, but they somehow lose their impact in the array of special effects, costumes, makeup and celebrity power. There is plenty to look at, but there isn’t enough to feel for.
Because of the troubled times we live in, we need a film brimming with hope and positivity. The movie had the potential and delivers to a certain extent. While it is definitely recommended for its outstanding technical merits, it unfortunately lacks an oomph.
(What could have been an inspiring tale of human strength is instead overshadowed by the production’s dazzling visual effects, elaborate costumes and fancy makeup)
Review by John Li