A Wrinkle in Time, C-
Rated PG, 110 minutes
I'll never forget the moment in "National Lampoon's Vacation" in which Chevy Chase's Clark Griswold finally reaches the spectacular Grand Canyon, only to take a quick look and say "OK, let's go." That's how I felt after seeing Disney's disappointing fantasy epic "A Wrinkle in Time," in spite of a bunch of hoopla, a great cast and director along with some sublime visuals. Narratively, it's an all-over-the-place mess and an unfortunate adaptation of the Madeline L'Engle's best-selling novel of the same name, upon which it's based.
Meg Murry (Storm Reid) and her little brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), have been without their scientist father, Dr. Alex Murry (Chris Pine), for five years, ever since he discovered a new planet and used the concept known as a tesseract to travel there. Joined by Meg's classmate Calvin O'Keefe (Levi Miller) and guided by the three mysterious astral travelers known as Mrs. Whatsit (Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon), Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey, pictured above), the children brave a dangerous journey to a planet that possesses all of the evil in the universe.
Sorely lacking in magic, "A Wrinkle in Time" is a lovely but sluggish fantasy tale that ends up a hodgepodge of new agey time travel and action adventure. It's directed by acclaimed director Ava DuVernay ("Selma") and written by "Frozen's" Jennifer and based on L'Engle's novel, all of which make you wonder, what went wrong with the $100 million film that Disney had such high hopes for?
For one, it lacks a strong, cohesive narrative that tends to go in so many directions. Second, "Wrinkle" is mishandled by DuVernay, a skilled director who's a mismatch for the material. She and Lee can't seem to get a handle on the themes, and in spite of some lovely visuals, the plot is more likely to confound than inspire. Its cast sure is game, along with Reid and McCabe, who help carry the film when the three lovely time travelers, played by Winfrey, Witherspoon and Kaling, aren't around to give guidance.
Winfrey and Witherspoon are OK, but "The Office's" Kaling is miscast as Mrs. Who, who annoyingly spouts a lot of quotes ranging from Outkast to Winston Churchill. It turns darker in the second half as the children search for Meg and Charles' lost-in-time-and-space-continuum-father, played by Pine in a part that's much smaller than the trailers will lead you to believe. Along the way, they must battle an evil force, called It (who's not a clown and played by "Gringo's" David Oyelowo), who causes some issues for the children.
The likable "A Wrinkle in Time" has some spirited special effects and some sweet moments, even if you're not entirely sure what it's trying to say. A disappointment considering the talent involved, it's the first big misfire for 2018 and certainly a rare flop for the Disney live-action reboot machine. Even the magic of Oprah can't save this one.
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