'A Wrinkle in Time' review: Never lacking in color
Ava DuVernay's A Wrinkle in Time is a film that is never lacking in color.
Every frame is awash with the brightest of hues, compensating perhaps for the absence of authentic heft. The film relishes in appearances, with its characters boldly adorned in garish costumes and lavish ornamentations, but its barely subtle message is one that falls flat because of its unhindered broadness.
Adapted from the supposedly unfilmable Madeleine L'Engle novel of the same title, DuVernay's film starts off in a rickety manner.
It briskly tells the history of Mr and Mrs Murray (Chris Pine and Gugu Mbatha-Raw), married scientists who are discovering a means to travel light-years by the power of thought, before plunging into the meat of its core quest which involves Meg (Storm Reid), the scientists' daughter, attempting to rescue her father with the help of her younger brother (Deric McCabe) and her classmate (Levi Miller). The trio is guided by mysteriously magical beings Mrs Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), Mrs Who (Mindy Kaling), and Mrs Which (Oprah Winfrey), who teach their wards to teleport from one universe to another just by thinking it.
A Wrinkle in Time has all the makings of a delightful adventure film. It has intriguing worlds where flying flowers communicate, where suburban moms ape suspiciously perfect suburban lives, where strangers offer delicious snacks while sunbathing in the perfectly crowded beach.
Sadly, DuVernay doesn't seem too keen on latching on to the adventure's potential for guiltless fun. She guns for relevance, for some sense of contemporary correctness. There are times when her message becomes affecting, but within the scope of the film's overall silliness, it all feels tenuous.
The result is a film so alarmingly wooden that it rarely generates any sense of wonder, even amidst the abundance of spectacle.
Relying on the stars
If anything, DuVernay knows the impact of icons.
She doesn't start from scratch. Instead of simply trusting her tale to do her talking, she recruits Winfrey, who, just by appearing in the film, becomes the film's exclamation to its message. She first appears literally larger-than-life, her bedazzled figure suddenly and bombastically appearing in the middle of Meg's unspectacular backyard. She mouths all the quotable words of wisdom. She lends all of her advocacies to the film that badly needs to evoke inspiration.
It's quite a smart move. Within the moments that Winfrey generously walks among the film's impressionable youth, the film rests upon borrowed heft. In the same way, even the involvement of DuVernay, whose previous works like Selma (2014) and 13th (2016) are not just pieces of entertainment but indelible political statements, has become a tool for the film to seem to be more than what it really is, which is just a weakly told but heavily glittered parable.
Simply put, A Wrinkle in Time unabashedly relies on the stars.
Feast for the eyes
Make no mistake, A Wrinkle in Time is a feast for the eyes.
At times, it delivers a powerful message. However, it really is quite a mess, burdened by a story that never really escalates to the point of being exciting all on its own terms. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' Tirad Pass. Since then, he's been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.