“A Wrinkle in Time,” the much anticipated movie, may score with some moviegoers, but those who have read Madeleine L’Engle’s classic 1962 childrens’ book may come away profoundly disappointed. Most critics feel the same way.
The movie, which opens tomorrow domestically, has received only a 43 rating on rottentomatoes, which tracks reviews. It fares a little better on Metacritic, a similar site, tracking a 54 rating there.
At first glance, the movie has everything going for it, an appealing cast, super sharp special effects and a popular story upon which to craft a script.
“But as an emotionally satisfying experience, it’s a bust,” writes Calvin Wilson for the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
Overall, the movie is being described as “visually gorgeous, big-hearted, and occasionally quite moving, but wildly ambitious to a fault,” according to rottentomatoes.
That may be due to Ava DuVernay’s direction. Sometimes you have too much material to work with.
Others say Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures watered down the movie, compared to the book, to appeal to the broadest possible tween audience.
The all-star ensemble cast includes Alexia Rae Castillo, Andre Holland, Bellamy Young, Chris Pine, Daniel MacPherson, Deric McCabe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Levi Miller, Michael Peña, Mindy Kaling, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Rowan Blanchard, Storm Reid and Zach Galifianakis.
The story centers on Meg Murry (Reid), a typical middle school student struggling with issues of self-worth who is desperate to fit in, according to the official synopsis.
She’s a typical nerd. Her mom and dad are world-renowned physicists. Both she and brother Charles Wallace (McCabe) share the same gifts. The movie kicks into gear when Mr. Murry (Pine), mysteriously disappears, leaving mome (Mbatha-Raw) heartbroken.
Charles and Meg set off to find him along with classmate Calvin (Miller) with the help of three mystical guides Mrs. Whatsit (Witherspoon), Mrs. Who (Kaling) and Mrs. Which (Winfrey).
“Traveling via a wrinkling of time and space known as tessering, they are soon transported to worlds beyond their imagination where they must confront a powerful evil. To make it back home to Earth, Meg must look deep within herself and embrace her flaws to harness the strength necessary to defeat the darkness closing in on them.”
How could the movie go wrong? But it does. The picture falls short in a number of ways, especially for those who are familiar with the book.
“Let me put a more positive spin on a negative review. The book is still out there for everyone to read: Please do so,” writes David Edelstein of New York magazine.
Critic Gregory Wakeman seems to hit the nail on the head: “Condensing all of L’Engle’s novel into the film proves to be much, too, as the need to establish the various planets, worlds and rules with an abundance of exposition dilutes any of the nuance or impact desired.”
But Wrinkle in Time fans should take some heart. The New York Times and Rolling Stone have both given the movie positive reviews.
“Fans of the book and admirers of Ms. DuVernay’s work — I include myself in both groups — can breathe a sigh of relief, and some may also find that their breath has been taken away,” writes The Times A.O. Scott.
You just have to believe.
Our advice: Forget get the atmospherics and focus on the characters.
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