We gave it a C
There’s a great scene in Ava DuVernay’s Selma where David Oyelowo’s Martin Luther King Jr. describes his mission. He wants the front page, nightly news. “That requires drama,” he explains, and for a moment the great man becomes a razzle-dazzle PR exec, the Greatest Showman for Justice. DuVernay was a publicist before she became a director, which could explain how she caught something so visceral and meta about King’s brilliance. Calling Selma a movie about brand management is dumb, obviously, but DuVernay found a thoughtful, complex, modern resonance in the subject matter. You almost felt you were watching King film his own biopic.
So Selma was an impressive triumph over the clichés of Hollywood hagiography. With A Wrinkle in Time, DuVernay has set herself another difficult task. Madeleine L’Engle wrote her beloved novel decades ago — before the march in Selma, in fact, and before the whole fantasy genre sprouted generations of tropes: Chosen One, Elder Mystic, the Dark (bad!) and the Light (good!). So this listless film’s real bummer is how dispiritingly it hits the marks of the modern blockbuster. In Selma, you watched a man print his own legend. Wrinkle feels too much like a reprint.
We start with Meg Murry (Storm Reid), sad and lonely like the best teens always are. Her scientist dad (Chris Pine) went missing four years ago. Her little brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), is “brilliant, but odd, so odd,” actual explanatory dialogue from a script that always tells and never shows. They meet three spaced-out fairy godmothers. Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) is exuberant and talkative, a daffy rookie angel like Clarence in It’s a Wonderful Life. Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) speaks only in famous quotes (Shakespeare, Buddha, PG-rated Churchill, PG-rated OutKast), like an insufferable Instagram account brought to life. And Mrs. Which initially appears as a 12-foot-tall titan glimmering with ethereal sun dust. She’s played by Oprah Winfrey; no special effects required, presumably.Read More...