Having seen the trailer for Disney’s A Wrinkle In Time numerous times at the cinema prior to other films, I found myself feeling more and more apprehensive with each viewing. At first, I felt happiness at seeing an upcoming major picture led by Storm Reid, a young black girl, and made by a black woman, Ava DuVernay (the first directed by a female POC to cost over $100 million). This sense of progress should be celebrated, as well as the message of self-love that permeates the narrative, and that I’m sure will prove encouraging to many young people who watch the film. However, these positive elements were not enough (for me at least) to cover various potential faults that I hoped would not remain issues in the full film: poor CGI, unimaginative areas, and an abundance of distracting pop songs.
Unfortunately, these issues and many others became clearer and clearer as the film went on. From the opening ten minutes, I found the cinematography somewhat aimless, the camera floating around characters with little purpose, or zooming unnecessarily close into their faces from offputting angles. This didn’t help to inject any excitement into the relatively dull mise-en-scene, that ranged from familiar high school environments to inconsistent and generic CG areas (which, dare I say, reminded me of the less inspired locations from the Star Wars prequels).
The disappointing visuals were not held up by spectacular sound either. Brand shiny new pop songs seemed to be randomly inserted into the soundtrack regardless of the tone of the scene, distracting from otherwise emotionally engaging moments. Even the script, whilst delivered to the best of each actors abilities, came across as unnatural and could have conveyed the real emotion lurking beneath the film’s confused surface much more effectively.
However, it definitely wasn’t without its good points. Each character was well acted, with emotive and sincere performances. In fact, sincere is the best word for each positive trait of this film. The narrative, whilst having some points that felt unnecessary, was heartfelt and easy to become drawn into. The story of Meg Murry travelling through space with three fantastical beings (Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling and Reese Witherspoon) to find her missing father (Chris Pine) allowed for a surprising level of emotional depth. If the focus had remained on the relationship between Meg and her father the film would likely have maintained its flow and been more consistently immersive. Because this wasn’t the case, characters like Meg’s brother Charles Wallace and her friend – whose name I genuinely forget because he was written so blandly – only serve to weigh the film down.
Coming out of A Wrinkle In Time, I was surprised by how much certain scenes had affected me, and yet dissatisfied with how fantastic the film could have potentially been. With a greater range of environments, a slightly reworked script, more of a focus on Meg and her father and a grand, orchestral score, this film could have been truly special. And I’m certain that to many children, this film was, is, and will be special for its encouragement and message alone. However, a more cynical adult will have more of a struggle getting past the numerous faults. I can only hope that the same crowd who rallied against the similarly average and harmless Ghostbusters reboot don’t use the unfortunate turnout of this film to justify their bigotry towards female and POC filmmakers.