The first film of the 2018 blockbuster season is here. After weeks of trash and leftover Oscar films populating the theater, Disney kicks off the summer season with their second adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time. Hoping to follow-up the hype of Black Panther and feed off the box-office tear, A Wrinkle in Time is another first for Disney and the Hollywood industry being the first Disney film to be helmed by a black female with a cast primarily filled with people of color. Director Ava DuVernay (Selma, 13th) attempts to grow off of her early success with this film. Tons of hype has built around this film with all of the news surrounding pre-production including DuVernay's budget of $100 million, another first for a black female director. With the demand for representation in cinema at an all-time high, DuVernay and Disney hope A Wrinkle In Time can be another brick in the foundation for the future of cinema.
A Wrinkle In Time stars Storm Reid, Chris Pine, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Michael Peña. After the disappearance of her father, Meg Murry (Reid) has fallen into a depressive slump that has affected her life around her. Fellow students make fun of her while she struggles to keep up her grades in school. After an incident at school, her brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) and fellow student Calvin O'Keefe (Levi Miller) come to her aid as well as the three mystical women (Winfrey, Witherspoon, and Kaling). The three women know as "The Mrs." inform Meg that her father is not dead but still alive somewhere in the cosmic universe. It is up to Meg and her companions to help find him before it's too late. After gaining the trust of The Mrs., Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace decide to follow them on their journey across time and space.
My first takeaway from Wrinkle in Time is the film's ambitious attempt at world building and the visual direction of the film. In today's cinema, it is very easy for films to throw tints on top of their images and dull the colors out. DuVernay strays away from the norm and floods her film with tons of color and saturates the screen to take you to worlds that are truly eye-catching. While the film parades visual eye-candy, I believe that A Wrinkle In Time fails to fully deliver on its intentions due to the film's reliance on CGI. So many times in the film I was taken back by seeing poor feathering along actors and poor motion tracking. Not only that but some of the details within the landscapes seem somewhat dated with prior films doing a better job at creating CGI scenery. You would think that Disney would put more dedication in that department when it comes to creating a top-billing film such as A Wrinkle In Time. Having a bigger budget to enhance the CGI and creating more practical sets could have gone a long way in making the film much more breathtaking.
The acting of the entire cast throughout the film is also very exceptional. While Oprah, Reese, and Mindy did what you would expect from their castings, what you will not expect is the chemistry between Chris Pine, Storm Reid, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Pine and Mbatha-Raw's relationship as husband and wife throughout the film is definitely believable and you honestly believe their love for their work and each other. Pine continues to grow as an actor and show audiences that he is more than just Captain Kirk and the emotional scene between Pine and Reid is the defining moment of their performances. The weight that they can convey to their story on-screen is one of the brightest parts of the film and the raw emotion they project is undeniable. The only part of the cast that I could have seen improvement in is Levi Miller's performance. While Reid delivers a truly genuine performance, Miller definitely comes across as very "Disney Channel". Instead of acting like a teenager, he performs like what Hollywood thinks teenagers are.
While there are bright spots in the film, A Wrinkle In Time is an uneven at best that tries to use its visual aesthetic to distract from the failures to deliver a cohesive plot. The first act is flooded with bad tropes in terms of extremely dated adolescent interactions, adult characters failing to understand youth, and talking down about children in ear-shot of who they're talking about. The second act struggles with trying to drag out scenes to increase a runtime that ruins the pace of the film. There is literally a 5-10 minute scene that completely haunts the film's plot in order for you to look at the pretty pictures. The final act tries to right the ship but a majority of the audience might be checked out by the time the story gets there. While the film sits at 1 hour and 49 minutes, 20-30 minutes could have easily been cut and nothing from the story would have been missing.
After watching A Wrinkle In Time, I left the theater wondering "Who is the target audience for this film"? On one hand, the film showcases story-elements that come across as very cheesy and quite childish. So, if the film is aimed at children, then how are they suppose to comprehend complex plot details such as tesseracts and M.C. Escher-esq paradoxical loops? The density of the science and the childish tone made me really conflicted as to who this film is made for. Then I realized that I might not of connected with this film because I was not a woman of color. The director of this film is a woman of color, a majority of the cast is females of color. Younger women of color should be able to relate to the protagonist easily and maybe older women can see their younger selves inside of Meg. If Wrinkle In Time is meant for women of color, is that really a bad thing? People of color have had to deal with countless films about white men that we force them to relate to. Maybe it should not that odd for a film to be produced and not have male figures at the target audience. I feel like A Wrinkle In Time has problems in multiple areas but you cannot fight the emotional connection you get when seeing a film and this film can definitely invoke that connection. I can't guarantee that you will like A Wrinkle In Time but I can it is worth a shot if you're interested in the story and the message the film is trying to push forward.