Oprah can’t resurrect “A Wrinkle in Time”

By Aaron Reynolds

The Surveyor

2.5 stars out of 5

Once upon a time Disney was the mecca for children’s entertainment. Its animated classics dated all the way back to the 1940s with “Bambi” and “Snow White,” and continued into the ‘90s with “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.” Then a rival company called Pixar emerged onto the scene and conquered Disney, dethroning the pioneer of children’s features.

It sounds like a storybook setting, but the reality is Disney hasn’t been anywhere in the same ballpark as Pixar over the last couple of decades when it comes to producing quality entertainment for the whole family. And, if you agree with that sentiment, you could say its latest science/fantasy epic “A Wrinkle in Time” is a massive effort by Disney to get back on the right track.

With a budget that exceeds $100 million and a stellar cast that features Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine and Michael Pena as well as convinced Oprah Winfrey to take her first noteworthy appearance on the big screen since 2014’s “Selma” – Disney pulled out all the punches for “A Wrinkle in Time.”

The only dilemma is it doesn’t always pack a punch.

“A Wrinkle in Time” tells the story of an intelligent middle schooler named Meg Murry and her brother Charles, who are dealing with the strange disappearance of their father. After being introduced to three celestial guides who go by the names Mrs. Which (Winfrey), Mrs. Whatsit (Witherspoon) and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), Meg is informed they have made the long journey to Earth in order to help search for their father. However, the journey has just began, as Meg and Charles not only must traverse new worlds, but also search deep inside their own souls and confront their biggest weaknesses in order to be reunited with their father.

As expected for a movie that broke ground for becoming the first live-action film with a nine-digit production budget and to be directed by a woman of color (Ava DuVernay), “A Wrinkle in Time” is a visual masterpiece, and worthy of the extra few dollars to catch it in 3D. The film captures the immense imagination of the multiple worlds it explores through a space travel known as “tessering,” but the major problem is it dwells far too much on being visually stunning.

It doesn’t take too long for the plot to get convoluted, not only leaving children, but adults, a little lost. I do not envy writers and directors like DuVernay who must take such an expansive book and attempt to jam it all in a couple hours of screen time. The result is often a murky adaptation that pales in comparison to the original book. “A Wrinkle in Time” is no different, and for a book that was originally regarded as being a little bizarre, the film is only an extension of it.

There are some touching moments, yet for all those big-hearted moments there are others that are just plain strange. It is clear “A Wrinkle in Time” was an ambitious, lofty endeavor for the cast and crew, and it continues to remain one. The story takes us a lot of different places and continues to do so after the lights come on, yet the wandering thoughts are associated more with confusion and disappointment than anything else.

If “A Wrinkle in Time” is about digging deep within to confront your biggest flaws, addressing them head-on, and consequently overcoming your greatest darkness, then anyone can get behind that. It’s an empowering message. But if you use the same formula to critique “A Wrinkle in Time,” you are left with cinematography that is nothing short of gorgeous, yet a story and plots that are head scratching.

Tags: ,