For all intents and purposes, “A Wrinkle in Time” is not only a critical disappointment but a commercial letdown, and for those who have seen it or read my review, it’s not surprising to see why.
Despite all the hype surrounding it, the film is ultimately the victim of a bad screenplay, adapting a very tricky and esoteric source material for a production set on commercializing a story that doesn’t carry massive appeal helmed by a director that has bitten off more than she can chew while being a tad bit wet behind the ears regarding the use of big budget spectacle as a storytelling device.
I make no effort to hide that I wasn’t particularly fond of the film’s final product, but I honestly take no pleasure in seeing it fail. The movie has a great many things going for it that I hope don’t fade away with its own passing into obscurity. I mentioned in my review that I could see children getting a kick out of the movie and not only do I stand by that statement but I can see it getting a proper cult following of adult viewers 10 years from now when these young viewers grow up.
“A Wrinkle in Time’s” introduction of very real scientific concepts through the lens of a tale steeped in esotericism and metaphysicality carries a lighthearted take on science fiction tales in the vein of “Star Trek” or “Doctor Who,” at a time when neither are really receiving as substantial of a push in the pop cultural spotlight as they used to for adult fans, much less for children. More specifically, it’s a high concept, science fantasy adventure that unapologetically speaks to a demographic of young girls, appealing to their sensibilities without pandering to its more than likely uninterested lowest common denominator or softening the danger of the adventure in question.
Protagonist Meg Murray is a 13-year-old girl, unafraid to pursue feminine interests and play protector to her bullied younger brother, while proudly wearing her intelligence and love of science on her sleeve while embarking on a grand journey that is completed not by how hard she can hit something but by how she comes to terms with her own demons, which allows her to better help those that she puts above herself.
It’s a message that would be important for anybody to hear and its sincere resonance, coming from and for an audience often left behind by big budget genre filmmaking, is more than a little bit moving. Ditto for the casting of Stormy Reid, an African American girl, helping to further include a marginalized demographic within said audience.
Despite the film’s horrendously awkward and sloppy first half, there are several bits and pieces of the back half of the movie in which Ava DuVernay clearly becomes more comfortable with the budget she has been granted and gets to properly display what she has to offer to blockbuster filmmaking, and how that talent not only made her the first African American Woman to direct a feature film of over $100 million in budget but even landed her the director’s chair for a “New Gods” movie, based on the DC comics characters of the same name.
“A Wrinkle in Time” is not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, despite the infectious sincerity and craftsmanship that went into making it. It is, however, one of the best bad movies I have seen in recent history. Not because it’s mesmerizingly inept or unintentionally hilarious, but because it swung for the fences and refused to backpedal on any of its ideas even if going down in flames was possible. I only hope that its ambition doesn’t go unappreciated, especially when its company fronting the bill for production released it in between two guaranteed billion dollar hits.
Graduating from Texas A&M University—Commerce with a bachelor's degree in News and Editorial Journalism, Jordan Wright has lived most of his adult life professionally critiquing films, from major blockbusters to indie dramas, and has no intentions of stopping.