Each week, locals Cole Schneider and Matt Greene share their different takes on new movies out in area theaters. For podcasts and more, visit MovietownMovieClub.com

 

Cole: 'Wrinkle in Time' embraces clichés

In this irony-heavy, post-modern world of writing, clichés are usually inverted, exposed and dismissed. What "A Wrinkle in Time" does so beautifully is what I’ve been calling for writers to do for a long time, particularly in kids movies — instead of inverting the clichés, it embraces its clichéd message with such fierce determination that it wins you over with a deep-seeded, genuine belief in the power of that message. It has a classical, tasteful approach to writing and the visual imagination to back it up.

The story follows Meg (played by the brilliant, rangy Storm Reid) as she adventures across time and space to chase after her lost father alongside her precocious brother and charmed new friend. So much of this film’s bravery is rewarding, but still it seems that "A Wrinkle in Time" is a classic case of the parts being greater than the sum.

Though there is an impeccable clarity of both messaging and emotional arc, there lacks that same sense with regard to the plotting and pacing of the film, which tends to stammer around between thrills and lulls. It doesn’t kill the movie, but it holds it down from the heights it tries to reach for.

And yet, there remains a nugget of rare inflection being presented in "A Wrinkle in Time," and it’s very likely that there is a generation of 8- to 14-year-olds for whom this will be a landmark event. What it lacks in cynically observed perfection it makes up for with a rare and magical sincerity of heart. "A Wrinkle in Time" has been a difficult film for me to review. It’s flawed yes, but another viewing may open me up to the charm I’m currently (wrongly?) unwilling to fully embrace.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 

Matt: Director wrecks 'Wrinkle in Time'

I’ve often contended that "boring" is the worst thing a film can be. "Wrinkle in Time" makes me rethink that. An exercise in doing, saying and being too much, "Wrinkle in Time" certainly isn’t boring, but it is bad.

It has a lot in common with "Tomorrowland": live-action, visually-heavy Disney fantasy-adventures, headed by lauded filmmakers, which celebrate braininess. But where "Tomorrowland" was simply misguided, "Wrinkle in Time" is a straight-up disaster. It gets credit for being Disney’s most enigmatic, eccentric experiments in years, taking visual and philosophical cues from Jodorowsky and Kubrick. Unfortunately, all intended awe and wonder is swallowed up by good, old-fashioned ineptness.

The story of a girl having to "tesser" across the universe to find her long-lost dad gets some things right, including the critical casting of the lead girl. Unfortunately, this engaging young actress can’t quite right this time-traveling ship. The rest of the oddly-cast actors certainly don’t help. Zach Galifianakis plays a god-like being doing modern, self-aware schtick for some reason ("I like earthtones."); Reese Witherspoon’s comic-relief is more annoyingly repetitve than funny; brilliant ad-libber Mindy Kaling is forced into delivering constant platitudes; and deus-ex-Oprah Winfrey leans into stoicism instead of inspiration.

These obnoxious side-characters disappear eventually, and the film gets better for it, with potent descriptions of the evil "It" and some great, creepy suburban set-pieces. But it’s really too late at that point. So much has gone wrong in so many ways (clunky editing, awful exposition, abrasive music, unearned emotions, prescription drug commercial graphics, ill-timed humor, laughable performances, etc), blame must be placed on normally stellar director Ava DuVernay ('Selma") for how unwieldy the final product feels. A forgettable, messy waste of a great cast and iconic source material.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars