First Hit: I love the concepts in the film but the execution was generally very poor.
I wanted to like this film more than I did. Almost from the beginning, there was something not quite right about this film. When Mr. Murry (Chris Pine) is teaching his daughter Meg (Storm Reid) about how vibrations can affect sand on a flat plate, there was a clunky sense to their interaction.
There was little sense or buildup as to why her peers were giving her a hard time. We slowly find out that she misses her dad, who disappeared some 4 years earlier. He just disappeared and the kids made fun of her because of this? Didn’t make sense and didn’t stick with me, given Meg’s attitude and personality on the screen.
Her adopted brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) is a genius and pushes the envelope at their mutual school. He calls people out on their stupidity and Meg has to break up the fight.
Regardless, Charles Wallace believes that their father slipped through a wrinkle in time and traveled to another galaxy (I interpreted this as a different dimension). He finally convinces Meg that something like this happened and introduces her to Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) who is a quirky and a renegade spiritual human presence and form of light.
Meg and Charles Wallace are join by a classmate Calvin (Levi Miller), who says he got “a call” to join them. He struggles at home because his father beats him even though he’s a great student. This part of the film is poorly done and doesn’t work well.
The three kids meet up in Meg’s backyard and Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey) take them through a wrinkle in time and end up on a new planet (new dimension).
The place is made of light as are the three Mrs. However, when they fly on Mrs. Whatsit’s back and encounter The It (the dark forces), the light bearers say that the kids might not find Mr. Murry.
The concepts of light and dark are great to express in written form and in film, but here the direction and substance of this story fails to make this journey compelling.
Pine was good as the scientist first guy, setting aside his family for the sake of science. Gugu Mbatha-Raw was good as Mrs. Murry, there was a sweet genuineness to her. Reid was very strong as Meg. Her passion and intelligence came through. McCabe was excellent as young Charles Wallace. He did a great job of being a smart kid and one that was taken over by the dark side (The It). Witherspoon was funny as Mrs. Whatsit. She brought humor but her character was also inconsistent. How can you be new as a light being and run out of energy so quickly. Kaling was OK as a seer, but I just didn’t buy the role. Winfrey was Winfrey. The extra-large size physical presence might have been more about inflating that it was Oprah than the role. It made little sense and adding the stiff gown she was fit into made her performance stiff. Miller was OK, but I struggled as to why he was part of the journey, the case wasn’t well made. Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell wrote a mediocre script when it could have been great. Ava DuVernay’s direction was poor. But some of this is based on the poorly created script. However, I think she could have made better choices about the story’s direction and how it was constructed.
Overall: This film falls flat when it comes to telling a strong story, but it does have a strong point to make if the audience sees through the uneven film.