A Wrinkle In Time - This Heavily-Agenda'd Movie Does Not Rock
Dir: Ava DuVernay
Starring Storm Reid, Oprah, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kalling, Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha Raw, David Oyelowo, Zach Galifianakis, Deric McCabe, Michael Pena
This movie is directed by a WOMAN. Not only that, but a BLACK woman. It also cost over $100 MILLION so it’s the first TENTPOLE BLOCKBUSTER directed by a WOMAN. A BLACK woman. And its lead is not only a young GIRL, but a young girl OF COLOUR. And the majority of its cast are WOMEN. NOT JUST WOMEN, BUT EMPOWERED WOMEN. (And Captain Kirk with a BEARD – no, forget the beard bit.) And this is a film that is all about EMPOWERMENT.
We emphasise all of the above not to be churlish but to point out that this is the way the movie has been marketed at us, and your good selves. And so we can say – WE. SIMPLY. DON’T. GIVE. A. SHIT.
It doesn’t matter how a film represents. Or how it’s makers and marketing team want to represent it. All that matters to us – and hopefully to your good selves – is whether it’s any good or not. And, sadly, A Wrinkle In Time, which starts promisingly, it just simply NOT VERY GOOD (our caps that time – they wouldn’t go there.) One leading trade paper went as far as to run an article with the headline (we’re probably paraphrasing, but only slightly) “A Wrinkle In Time Isn’t Very Good. But Does It Have To Be?” Once again, our caps – YES. IT. FUCKING. WELL. DOES!!
And we’re back here in the lower case – Ava DuVerney’s take on the “classic” early ‘60s sci fi kids (they call it YA these days) novel by Madeleine L’Engel, at first engages, largely due to the presence of its lead, Storm Reid, who emerges as the film’s almost saving grace. Her early life is swiftly and stylishly (kudos to DuVernay here) established, as she struggles to cope with her alienation and pent up aggression following the four-years-gone disappearance of her genius scientist father (Pine) who possibly went off to hold hands with the universe (or something.) Then the Missus arrives – sadly, not a Frankie Howard tribute band, but the intergalactic celestial beings that are Witherspoon (as comedicly sound as ever), Kalling (barely registers) and a looming thirty foot tall Oprah (acting like they couldn’t afford to get her in the same room as everyone/anyone else.)
And then the nonsense sets in as all concerned deal with the inevitable daddy issues, plus a plethora of planet-hopping accompanied by more contrived science hokum and bunkum, and spiritual hogwash that you’d find in a whole year of Doctor Who. (Or even 50 years – this timey wimey stuff is relative after all.) It’s a bad script basically, full of sentiment and declamatory statements about love, the universe and – well – nothing, really. Hardly sound and fury, more wimpy, limp sentiment standing in for plot. Visually it takes on the aesthetic of a video game, thematically it seems to want to be The Wizard of Oz, but really doesn’t seem to know how.
It might work for the very young, but you can’t help but think they’ve seen better. It might reach out to the YA audience – but surely they’ll very quickly react to what feels like being lectured to. Starts well, Reid rocks, but very little else does.
In a film full of life lessons perhaps the one to learn here is – it doesn’t matter if you are seen to hire a WOMAN. Or even a BLACK WOMAN, to somehow reinvent the blockbuster. WHOWEVER you hire just needs to make a good movie, IRRESPECTIVE of race, creed, colour, gender or WHATEVER THE HELL.
This isn’t it.
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