So I saw WRINKLE IN TIME without first reading the book. I can honestly tell you, that upon seeing the movie, I really really want to read the book, now. I’ve heard so many good things about it, it’s been a classic for decades. I spent a couple of days thinking about it, and what I can honestly say about the movie, is that it is well-intentioned turd covered in glitter.
I was excited for this movie, it looked amazing, but most of WRINKLE IN TIME just didn’t work, and had maybe too much thought put into it.
WRINKLE IN TIME was 5% bad physics, 10% artsy nonsense, 15% bad dialogue, 30% costume changes, and 40% of “what in the hell is going on”. Before the movie plays, a short interview with the director Ava DuVernay was shown, in which I can tell that she cared very deeply about the story and probably read it as a kid.
The film is about a teenage girl named Meg and her brother Charles Wallace and her friend Calvin who all go on a mind bending adventure across time and space to find her missing father, a gifted physicist. Pretty cool setup, so what went wrong? SO MUCH!
Let’s start with the cinematography. Many of the shots were very awkward and strange.
It was as if it was decided that instead of doing reshoots: it was fixed with awkward editing. or maybe they did reshoot, but couldn’t get some of the actors to come back for it. For example: there was a scene of a very touching reunion, but it was quite difficult to discern whether or not the two characters were even in the same room for the first minute or so it was happening. Sometimes there were artsy shots that appeared for maybe a second and did nothing for the story other than to just jar the viewer a bit. It went far beyond artsy to condescending pretty quick.
There’s a lot of “what’s happening?” moments in this movie. I understand that they were trying to make it surreal, but you can make scene transitions surreal and still have it make sense. DR. STRANGE has proven that. Often times, the scene changes abruptly, before the previous scene felt completed. The progress of this movie felt pretty forced.
Dialogue was terrible. Especially when the feeble attempts to explain anything about physics was involved. One or two of those points are just downright infuriating with their inaccuracies. In one scene, the kids are riding on the back of this plant-dragon-mantaray creature, when they discover that they can “fly” by pushing themselves off of the creature, and only stay hovering by remaining over the creature’s back. Meg tried to explain this phenomenon by calling it “lift”. I looked to Comics Chad in the theater who was sitting next to me, and we both just shook our heads at that. That wasn’t the only time we found ourselves doing that at something that was said in this film.
For as much poor explaining as there was as physics, there was almost as much of a lack of explaining of the meaning of some characters and major plot points. Who is the man in the colorful coat with the interesting mustache other than an obvious pawn of evil? I don’t know, and apparently we’ll never find out. He was just there, and then he wasn’t, and I was so very disappointed that I didn’t get to know him. What exactly is the It, beyond just evil? I dunno, it’s just UUGHHH EVIL! What exactly are the….Witches? Entities? I’m referring Mrs. Which (Oprah), Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling). The most explanation we got about them was that they were as much a part of the universe as the kids were, and they just like to help. The trio of The Mrses did a fine job in their parts. Zach Galifianakis was a delight for his small role. All of the questions I have, I believe are far better explained in the book.
I think one of the biggest problems was the editing. As I said before, things transitioned quite unnaturally most of the time. Dialogue felt cut off, and small bits of footage that could have stayed were removed for whatever reason. I’m really wondering what the director’s cut will be like, if it’s better. Please tell me it’s better.
There were a lot of cool concepts and visuals, and I wouldn’t mind seeing them again. Perhaps a second watch will allow me to get more out of the story. I’m finding myself saying this over and over again about a lot of modern movies: they look freaking great, but is no masterpiece. You can take your kids to see it, it’s vibrant and distracting.If you’re an adult who read the book, you’ll probably enjoy WRINKLE IN TIME since all of the gaps are filled-in for you already. If you’re an adult and haven’t read the book, just take some drugs and enjoy the visuals or don’t bother at all--read the book instead.