Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Disney's A Wrinkle In Time Movie Review

image copyright Disney Studios, used with permission
My 9-year-old read "A Wrinkle In Time" last year in school, so she has been eagerly awaiting the release of a film version! I've been a fan of the adult actors in it, so I've been following along enjoying the sneak peeks on Instagram too!
Disclaimer: I was given free tickets to attend an early screening of this film for review purposes.

Just from the previews and sneak peek images, I could tell that this movie as going to be very visually stimulating, and it did not disappoint in that regard! The costumes, hair, and make-up for The Mrs Ws were detailed and stunning, and changing so fast it was hard to appreciate all the detail! Every actor was pleasant to look at, and there were lots of great visuals throughout the movie.

image copyright Disney Studios, used with permission
As for the plot, I'm torn. It's been a few decades a while since I read the book, so I don't know how the movie compares, and I purposely did not read it again before the movie, since judging by my daughter's indignation at all the changes made ("basically just the names are the same! And sort of the idea of the story") I'll enjoy reading the book better with these visuals and a richer world and plot, rather than starting with the whole story and different expectations in my head and watching it get hacked to bits and patched over with pretty visuals...

image copyright Disney Studios, used with permission
The premise of the plot is that a father disappeared 4 years before by using his mind to travel across the universe using the correct frequency, or a "wrinkle" in time and space. So once I shake off all my eye-rolling, I can follow along. Some magical light beings, the Mrs Ws, just called "The Mrs" in this movie, help his children Meg and precocious Charles Wallace and a friend of Meg's, Calvin, travel across the universe using a "tesseract" to "tesser" through time and space to find their missing father.
That's pretty much it. Except, of course, for The It, a darkness that tries to sneak inside each of us from a place called Camazotz. The Mrs are part of the Light, finding warriors to fight The It. Oh yes, and helping Meg and Charles Wallace find their father.
image copyright Disney Studios, used with permission

Understandably, Meg gets into a lot of trouble acting out and getting teased and bullied at school after the disappearance of her father, so she has difficulty trusting The Mrs - and herself. So her personal development in this story is pretty predictable. But a great social story for grade-school kids, tweens, and teens! I'm constantly trying to show my oldest how the things she dislikes about herself can also be her strengths. Mrs Which gives the most powerful line in the movie - (paraphrasing here) "Do you know how many choices and events had to happen since the beginning of the universe to lead to the creation of you?" I'm always telling my kids that I never regret all the mistakes made and lessons learned, choices changed or delayed, and opportunities missed, because they led to the amazing children I got, and made me the mama I am. I may have annoyed my 4th-grader by interrupting her movie to indicate that this line defined how I feel about her.
image copyright Disney Studios, used with permission

Overall I enjoyed the movie, but I did have some issues with it, other than the cheesy sci-fi premise from the book (I asked my kid.) First off, my 6-year-old hated it. To be fair, she gets scared and anxious during the suspenseful or scary scenes in pretty much every modern movie. But my mommy-radar was going off for the characters when The It was dragging them away and they were screaming in terror. So I wasn't surprised that my sensitive little one was terrified and had to climb into Daddy's lap until the end. She did not feel that the rest of the movie was worth the terror of the It scenes. Before that point though, she was excited about the movie having Jack Frost (Chris Pine in Rise of the Guardians,) the mama pig (Reese Witherspoon as Rosita in Sing,) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling in Inside Out!)

I can't attest to this either way (other than I know they changed the winged horse to a magic flying carpet lady, since the book cover shows a horse,) but my oldest says the movie is pretty much nothing like the book. (So for those of you experienced with The Bourne Identity who have both read the book and watched the movie, sounds a lot like the similarities and differences there in the movie versus book.) Being a rigid thinker, my 9-year-old was outraged at the changes, however loved all the beautiful eye candy, and that there was a dog in it (she loves animals,) so gave it 5 stars.

I personally really hated the choice the father made at the end, but my daughter assured me that it was in the book [a lot of the film was spent with me annoying her like when I watch any Marvel movie with my husband - *poke poke* "Did that happen in the books? Was that character in the books? Did they do that in the book?"] So I'm not holding that part of the plot against the movie. Maybe they just didn't do a good job of justifying why his character made that choice, which is why it bothered me so much. I don't like wanting to slap a protagonist at the end of the film. Mixed feelings about a character should all be resolved by then!
The biggest issues for me though was that the pacing and cinematography felt off. Like this was made to be seen on TV versus the theater. I also got the impression they didn't do a lot of extra takes when filming the high-end stars. Little things like flyaway hairs blowing across a face of a magical being made of the light of the universe. Really? Couldn't do a re-take and spray down that hair? And a lot of creative angles and shots with unusual focus. Just gave me the impression that this was a TV or straight-to-DVD movie with a high special effects budget and a cast full of big names. It was a bit distracting for me, being pulled out of being lost in the experience to remember that I'm a viewer watching a movie, and why did they do that with that camera shot? But definitely still worth seeing in the theater with my kids!
image copyright Disney Studios, used with permission
A WRINKLE IN TIME opens in theatres everywhere this Friday March 9th!

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